Former LSU coaches and their likelihood to be asked back

With the now-expressed interest in Les Miles by Michigan (he”s awesome, guys! – please don”t take him away!!!), attention must be turned to a potential successor should Leslie leave for the semi-retirement of being the Michigan coach. And, of course, a name that has and no doubt will continue to pop up is Nick Saban. As laughable as the notion of Fonzie bailing out of Alabama after one season to return to LSU is, people will argue that it makes great sense. LSU is where Fonzie had his greatest success; it”s the job that made him love college football so much he had to come back; the job is somewhat less burdened with crazy fan expectations; etc.

With that in mind, I”d like to offer my list of former LSU coaches ranked by the potential that they would be asked to return to coach the Tigers.

1) Bill Arnsbarger – Sure, he”s 81 and has been out of football for 12 years. But he won.

2) Paul Dietzel – Sure, he”s 83 and has been out of football for 25 years. But he won.

3) Bo Rein, should be be found alive on a deserted island in the Caribbean

4) Mike Archer – Actually a viable head-coaching candidate again.

5) The Corpse of Charles McClendon

6) Jerry Stovall

7) The Corpse of Bo Rein, should it be found

8) Gerry DiNardo

9) Nick Saban

10) Curley Hallman

SEC Week 13 Recap

Between the huge letdown of LSU blowing the Arkansas game and tending to the YouTube phenomenon that was the Auburn dog bite, my energy being directed toward last weekend”s action went down quickly. But to recap: Leslie and Fonzie agree on one thing – overtime isn”t real football. And they”re right. It”s a crapshoot of made plays, missed plays and luck. If alternating possessions from the 25-yard-line was how football was always played, the college landscape would be very different.

But there”s a solution: Win the fucking game over your inferior opponent before it gets to overtime. LSU couldn”t do that against 8-4 Arkansas, they couldn”t do it against 7-5 Kentucky and they almost didn”t do it against 3-9 Ole Miss, 6-6 Alabama or 8-4 Auburn.

I said going in that the Arkansas game could be a wild affair. Darren McFadden has the ability to totally screw up your gameplan (although Auburn had the ability to hold Arkansas to 67 rushing yards). And LSU”s defense is banged up enough that some slack has to be given there. I want to rant about Bo Pelini”s horrible coaching and strategy, but I do think a lot of the defensive collapse has been due to injuries. Still, LSU should have been able to hold Arkansas back more than they did last Friday.

Offensively, I”m not sure where Matt Flynn”s head was, but going 19 for 43 for 176 yards (in regulation) … against the SEC”s No. 8 passing defense … at home … in the game to keep you in the BCS hunt in inexcusable for a 5th-year senior. Ryan Perrilloux did not play in the game despite Flynn”s ineffectiveness and apparent shoulder injury. And – assuming this was ongoing punishment for the incident at The Varsity and not Leslie simply forgetting Ryan is on the team – I support that. This, Ryan, is what you”ve done to the team by your immature and irresponsible behavior – helped keep us out of the BCS title game. That consequence should be allowed to play out; letting the idiot come save you is not a good message.

Of course, the game would likely have been put away if Early Doucet had stood in the right spot on one particular play. Is Doucet so stupid that he doesn”t understand the rules about how to line up, or is this a symptom of really horrible coaching? It”s hard to say, but stupid procedural penalties are the hallmark of Leslie”s teams, so it”s hard to ignore that history.

In any case, LSU (once again) should never have been in the position of needing to win this one late. But we were. The bad wins (and losses) of Leslie”s tenure are adding up: Kentucky, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas this year; Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas last year; Arizona State, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia in 2005.

Three years, 32 wins, 6 losses. By my count, one of those losses (Florida last year) is a “quality loss”, five were poor losses. Fifteen of the 32 wins were expected victories over poor teams, 11 were close-call wins that never should have been close and just 6 (Va. Tech, South Carolina, Florida this year, Notre Dame last year and Florida and Miami in 2005) are what I would call “quality wins” – either hard-fought battles won against strong teams or domination of decent teams. And you could certainly argue about the Miami and Notre Dame wins.

LSU is a highly-talented and completely unprepared team. I hear Michigan might be scheduling a press conference for Monday. I welcome that.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Tennessee / Kentucky was wilder than I could have imagined. The “Cats should have won this one, but I”m happy to have the Vols to face in Atlanta, not the Dawgs. Missed the pick.

Coach O ushered himself out the door – and Houston Nutt in (great hire) – by blowing the Eh Bowl and my pick there.

Fonzie was suitably embarrassed by Auburn, but offense was not to be found there.

Georgia rolled, as did Florida, and Clemson almost made my blow my pick against the Cocks.

For the week: 4 – 3

For the season: 75 – 17

Police dog bites Auburn player during Alabama game

This one’s too good to let pass. Auburn player defending an Alabama pass late in tonight’s game gets bitten by a security dog at the back of the endzone. Reminds me of Uga snapping at an Auburn player during a Georgia game a few years back – but Uga missed.

Previous video: Les Miles – I’m The Head Coach

See also: Oregon / Arizona – Poon Fight

Les Miles – he’s the head coach

I published this last night at the tail end of my coverage of Leslie’s brilliance in the Arkansas game, but I don’t want it getting lost in the shuffle. So I give you “I’m The Head Coach” starring Les Miles:

Previous video: Oregon / Arizona – Poon Fight

Les Miles unable to save LSU this time

LSU Head Coach Les Miles – one of the most brilliant coaches to ever walk the sidelines – was unable to pull his untalented Tigers through to another victory Friday, as No. 1 LSU fell to Arkansas in triple overtime Friday. Not even the best coach in college football could save the Tigers on this day. It was not, though, for a lack of effort on Miles” part. Coach Miles out-strategized Arkansas coach Houston Nutt and nearly coaxed an 11th win out of what is clearly a weak set of players for LSU.

With the game tied at 21 mid-way through the fourth quarter, Miles sensed the momentum Arkansas had and knew a quick score would just give the Hogs the ball back with Big Mo on their side. So – very shrewdly – Miles had Early Doucet line up in the wrong position to negate what would have been a 54-yard touchdown pass that would have played right into Arkansas” hands.

The discipline of Doucet to stay on the line of scrimmage when standard coaching techniques would surely have taught the senior not to stand there is a testament to Miles” brilliance. Clearly this is a program with strong leadership.

Miles and his coordinators then willed their team to overtime, first by allowing Arkansas to move the ball at will to go up 28-21, and then by devising an unlikely gameplan for the final drive – including a fourth-down swing pass so inept-looking that it had to succeed.

And then, in the most brilliant strategy move executed this day, Miles used two timeouts before the game-tying score to leave one minute on the clock and force Arkansas to take the ball back one final time in regulation.

But in the end, Miles” incomparable leadership, Bo Pelini”s strategy of wearing down the Arkansas offense by making them move the ball 437 yards in regulation and Gary Crowton”s brilliant three-play offense was not enough to overcome LSU”s obvious lack of talent. So these Tigers will fail to win a national title for Coach Miles this year, and that”s a shame. He deserves better.

And after a season of pulling his team through close games, not even the brilliant mind of Les Miles could save the Tigers today.

Les Miles is the best coach in college football I sure hope no other teams try to lure him away, as any team would be lucky to have him.

SEC Week 13 Predictions

It’s a great weekend for SEC football. The weather (at least in Atlanta) is finally brisk, and a lot is on the line. The way it should be. Except that I’m not in Baton Rouge gearing up to go to LSU / Arkansas. A concession for the baby and wife, who deserved a quiet, stress-free Thanksgiving more than I deserved a Friday of LSU football.

And away we go. I’m not even going to try to analyze the LSU / Arkansas matchup. On one side you have a team that gives up 78 yards per game on the ground but let a team that averages less than 125 yards get 200. On the other side you have a team that whose rushing output has ranged from 67 yards in one game to 542 in another – with the same guys carrying the ball.

If Arkansas puts together a good game, No. 1 LSU could be in trouble. Brent Schaeffer of Ole Miss is like a bad Darren McFadden, and he would have beaten LSU last week if Coach O wasn’t stupid enough to take him out of the game.

I expect Bo Pelini to game-plan heavily around a running Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. I would think the idea is to play single-coverage on receivers and make Arkansas run past more of the defense or let McFadden or Casey Dick throw it. I hope the planning and execution is solid this week.

Offensively, the Tigers should be able to move the ball and score, so I predict a wild one.

Tigers 45 – 43

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 18 Tennessee at No. 28 Kentucky – I’ll be pulling for the Vols here, but this one’s set up for Kentucky to win. The ‘Cats carry the SEC’s top passing offense and the Vols have the SEC’s second-worst passing defense. However, the ‘Cats also bring a bad defense, so this one could get out of hand. Kentucky 49 – 48

Alabama at No. 26 Auburn – I don’t remember the last time I pulled for Auburn in this game, but I’ll be doing that this weekend. The irrational arrogance of Alabama fans early in the year (woo-hoo! we beat Arkansas!!), is getting vomited back in their faces, and I’m enjoying the hell out of that. It’s not a Fonzie thing, but I now wish for nothing but bad to come down on Bama. War Eagles 24 – 10

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – Also known as the Eh Bowl for it’s lack of significance. But this year it’s a 7-win season on the line for MSU vs. avoiding a winless SEC season for Ole Miss. I think Coach O will take lessons from the LSU game. Ole Miss 27 – 20

No. 7 Georgia at Georgia Tech – I don’t know much about the Jackets, but I think UGA has figured it out. And they’ll probably come out in white helmets and red pants for good measure. Motivation! Dawgs 31 – 17

Florida State at No. 12 Florida – Mop-up duty for Tebow’s Heisman push. Gators 45 – 20

No. 22 Clemson at South Carolina – Also an ACC/SEC matchup I don’t have much analysis on. But the Cocks have looked very bad of late. I’ll give this one to Clemson. Tigers 21 – 17

Poon Fight – Better Late Than Never

From last Thursday’s Oregon / Arizona game, a nice poon fight captured in the stands by ESPN. Slowed to 1/15th speed with blow-by-blow account and set to Loretta Lynn & Jack White’s “Portland, Oregon” (Yes, I know the University of Oregon is in some city that’s not Portland – song just works great with the clip):

Leslie on the Michigan job

Les Miles set the record straight at his weekly press luncheon today: – Bo Schembechler is dead. Funeral was a year ago today, in fact.
- Lloyd Carr”s retirement timing is funny.
- Leslie is not talking jobs, not looking for jobs, doesn”t want a job. But he has a great job.

- It”s not “suppose” that Michigan will call. They haven”t called. It”s not fair to say they should.
- What he”s doing is what we should do, which is to “let it rest”.
- He”s playing football for LSU.

- He”s preparing for “ar-KAN-sas”.
- He loves this team (choking back tears) and will not do anything to hurt it.
- He doesn”t want to talk about jobs, doesn”t care about jobs, doesn”t want to involve himself in that thought process, which is counterproductive to preparation. Please don”t ask again.

He”s so on the first flight to Ann Arbor after the BCS title game (or maybe the SEC Championship Game if we lose that). That is, of course, if Michigan wants him.

Everybody”s saying Michigan will look like fools if they pass on Miles and the guy they do hire washes out. But if Michigan has the chance to hire a true Michigan Man who played and coached for Bo, who dearly loves the university and is currently coaching the No. 1 team in the country … and passes … what does that say about Leslie?

Michigan not offering Miles the job is a much scarier thought than us having to find a new coach.

The video:

SEC Week 12 Recap

Who was LSU”s Most Valuable Player yesterday? Bryant Hahnfeldt – Vanderbilt”s kicker. By missing a 49-yard potential game-winner against Tennessee, Hahnfeldt kept alive Tennessee”s hopes for an SEC East title and LSU”s hope to make the BCS Championship Game.

If Hahnfeldt makes that kick, Georgia wins the SEC East and LSU”s chances of winning the SEC Championship drop to between slim and none. LSU beat Ole Miss yesterday – in the final score and in turnovers. But the Rebels out-gained, out-passed, out-protected and out-played the Tigers on well over half of the game”s 132 snaps. If not for five key plays – Ole Miss” fumble near the goal line, an interception in the endzone, two more interceptions and Trindon Holliday”s 98-yard kickoff return for LSU – the Rebels would likely have sent LSU to the trash heap of BCS contenders yesterday.

Just as LSU”s 58-10 win over La. Tech last weekend wasn”t as strong as the score would indicate, this 41-24 win over the worst team in the SEC hardly gives me warm fuzzies about LSU”s chances to win the SEC Championship Game, much less get past Arkansas this Friday.

Thankfully – again – the football world is looking the other direction and not really examining how the Tigers are playing. With Oregon losing Thursday, LSU has become the consensus No. 1 and is exempt from the “who should be No. 2″ questioning. And that”s a good thing, because I sure wouldn”t vote this LSU team No. 1 right now.

Where has the defense gone? The Tigers gave up 466 yards to the Rebels and registered exactly one sack the entire game. When Ole Miss had the ball, the line of scrimmage looked like a barn dance, with LSU”s defensive front rarely getting into the backfield and leaving Schaeffer plenty of time to find open men or scramble out for a nice ground gain.

I hate to agree with Lee Corso, but LSU”s defense has just faded away during the season.

In the first six games of the season, LSU”s defense gave up an average of 9.3 points and 198 yards per game. Teams averaged 3.3 yards per play in this stretch, which included games against the Tigers” two highest-ranked opponents (9-2 Va. Tech and 8-3 Florida).

In the last four games (discounting the 3-OT Kentucky game”s stat-busting nature), LSU”s defense has given up an average of 23 points and 318 yards per game, with opponents averaging 4.6 yards per play. The strongest team in this stretch has been 7-4 Auburn.

To put it bluntly, the defense has gone bad.

Offensively, the Tigers have gotten better late in the season, averaging 42.5 points, 489 yards and 6.9 yards per play in the last four games compared to 37.8 points, 432 yards and 6.0 yards per play for the first six games. And that stands to reason with the softer schedule of late, and clearly it”s the offense that”s been saving LSU”s bacon.

So now there”s Arkansas, horribly inconsistent but carrying the potential to drop 650 yards of offense on an unprepared foe. That”s worrisome, but the offense should be able to bail out the defense this Friday.

More important this week will be what happens Saturday in Lexington. If Kentucky beats Tennessee, Georgia”s new-found offense will run LSU off the field in the SEC Championship Game. LSU”s only hope to make the BCS title game is pulling Tennessee – not the Dawgs – in Atlanta.

… then let”s hope somehow Ohio State rises back to No. 2.

And this defensive collapse has softened my support for Bo Pelini to take over should Leslie head back up to Michigan in the next couple of months. I still think Bo is a strong candidate, but the recent collapse of his defense takes him out of slam-dunk status should we have a vacancy at head coach.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Alabama lost to UL-Monroe. Man, that”s fun. Just such a good time knowing the “Saban is God” crowd has to swallow that one. And now Alabama has to beat Auburn to avoid a 6-6 season. That makes me happy. And the loss Saturday ensures that Saban”s first year at Alabama will be worse than any year he had at LSU. The man took an LSU team that was 3-8 the year before he arrived and flipped them to 8-4 in his first year. At Bama, they were 6-7 last year … can Fonzie even improve that record this season? Bring back Shula!

Georgia again looked strong in shutting down Kentucky in the second half. Deciding to run the ball and not have Stafford throw (interceptions) was a smart move. And no obvious manufactured motivation required, it seems.

Tennessee nearly lost to Vandy, showing why I desperately want to draw the Vols in the SEC Championship game.

Arkansas isn”t good, but Mississippi State is worse, as expected.

Tebow wins the Heisman.

For the week: 5 – 1

For the season: 71 – 14

SEC Week 12 Predictions

Ooh, no … the correct answer is “don”t lose to Arizona.” Sorry, Oregon; but thanks for playing. Here”s the Holiday Bowl as a consolation prize.

More on the BCS picture in a bit, but we”ve got SEC business to settle this weekend. The No. 1-ranked Tigers travel to Oxford to take on 3-7 (0-6 in the SEC) Ole Miss. What you”ll hear about this game is that four of the last five meetings have been close games, so watch out, LSU. Not many people give Ole Miss a chance to win it, but plenty of folks expect a close game.

If that”s the case, it won”t bode well for LSU getting to the BCS Championship Game. The Rebels are last in the SEC in scoring offense and scoring defense. LSU is second in scoring offense and first in scoring defense. There”s less pressure now for LSU to win with style, but this one should be no contest. If it”s a contest, that”ll worry me for Arkansas and the SEC Championship Game.

LSU 42 – 10

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 23 Kentucky at No. 9 Georgia – OK, so let”s all see what Mark Richt pulls out of his Inspiration Closet to get the Dawgs past Kentucky and keep hope alive for the SEC Championship Game and / or a BCS bowl. Richt is dangerously close to becoming the Dr. Phil of college football. The key to this game, though, will be Knowshon Moreno, not what color socks Georgia is wearing or what kind of chant they do at midfield before the game. Moreno is averaging 163 yards per game over the last four games and Kentucky has given up an average of 217 rushing yards in their last four games. The “Cats” rush defense can be had, and Moreno seems like the man to have it. Georgia”s weak spot is passing defense, however, which is where Kentucky”s opportunity lies.

But with at least a BCS bowl on the line for Georgia, revenge from last year”s loss to Kentucky and no doubt some awesome motivational scheme in the works by Richt, I like the Dawgs here. UGA 31 – 20

Vanderbilt at No. 20 Tennessee – Vandy is not in a great position to end Tennessee”s SEC East title hopes. The “Dores have a strong defense, but they have no offense to take advantage of the Vols” horrible defense. I wouldn”t be surprised to see Vandy win an ugly game here, but I”ll go Vols. Tennessee 10 – 9

Mississippi State at Arkansas – About as intriguing of a game as you”ll ever see between a pair of 6-4 teams. Sly Croom is clearly on the rise, having scored wins over Alabama, Auburn and Kentucky. Arkansas is the embodiment of chaos, having the guns to drop 542 rushing yards on South Carolina but not able to put anything together against Tennessee. But there”s just not much to love about Mississippi State – last in the SEC in total offense, eighth in total defense. The only thing they really do well is stop the pass, but Arkansas would rather not throw, anyway. Hogs 24 – 13

Alabama and Florida win against their patsies, and Auburn and South Carolina have the week off.

And on the to BCS suppositions.

I have mixed feelings about Ohio State losing to the Zooker last weekend. On the one hand, I”m really happy to see the Buckeyes exposed as the nothing of a team they are, and their loss leaves other teams fighting for No. 2. But on the other hand, college football could have used another embarrassing blowout of Ohio State in a title game to help end the Big Ten”s undeserved perception as a real conference.

But it”s all clear for the moment. If LSU wins out, the Tigers are in. There”s a very strong chance that either Kansas, Missouri or Oklahoma will be in the title game. Barring upsets this week, Kansas and Missouri will play an elimination game next week before likely meeting Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game – assuming Oklahoma does not stumble against Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. So it”s probable that the Big 12 title game will be No. 2 vs. No. 3 (or No. 1 vs. No. 2 if LSU loses to Ole Miss or Arkansas) with the winner going to the BCS title game. It”s still to early to know that is how it will go down, but at most one of those three teams will stay at the top of the BCS rankings, and chances are the winner of the Big 12 will be in BCS title position.

West Virginia is essentially sitting at No. 3 right now, needing some chaos among the Big 12 teams or an LSU loss to make it in. The Mountaineers have to get past Cincinnati and Connecticut (yes, top teams in the Big East) as well as Pittsburgh to keep their hopes alive. A fair requirement, because those are all very winnable games for a serious BCS contender.

Ohio State and Arizona State aren”t out of it yet, as they are essentially the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the BCS. Ohio State, of course, will play Michigan tomorrow and then disappear from competition while real conferences play two more more games and the Pac-10 plays on conference championship weekend to make people think they have one. If Ohio State beats Michigan tomorrow and Arizona State beats USC and then Arizona, I”d love to see the Sun Devils move ahead of the Buckeyes in the BCS. In any case, both Ohio State and Arizona State need a good bit of help at the top of the standings.

A West Virginia / Arizona State BCS title game is not out of the question, however. The two teams at the top have that pesky extra game to win, and anything can happen there.

So, seven teams are sitting in striking range of a top-two BCS spot. I”d estimate each team”s chances of winning out and remaining in the chase thusly:

- LSU: 70%; 50% if Georgia makes its way into the SEC Championship Game.
- Kansas: 20%
- Missouri: 40%

- Oklahoma: 70%
- West Virginia: 90%
- Ohio State: 40%
- Arizona State: 30%

Put a gun to my head and make me say who”ll play for the title, and I”d say Oklahoma and West Virginia. There”s something just a little shaky about LSU, but I could also see the Tigers running the table – especially if it”s Tennessee we”re playing in the SEC Championship Game.

But imagine this nutty potential scenario:

- Tennessee beats LSU in the SEC Championship Game
- Oklahoma loses one of its two final games, but still goes to the Big 12 Championship Game, where they beat the winner of Kansas / Missouri
- Ohio State loses to Michigan
- Arizona State loses to USC

Each of the above potentialities are reasonable, although all of them happening might be a stretch. But if they do, and depending on where Oregon settles in next week”s BCS, there”s a very slight potential for the current No. 9 BCS team to make their way to No. 2. That team? Georgia. An SEC team making the BCS title game after not even making the conference championship game? That would get the BCS haters talking.

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