USAA mobile deposit restrictions – the full idiocy

So after hearing such good things about USAA from friends and learning that they had opened up their banking products to the non-military-connected, I figured I would give them a shot as my checking / savings provider. A big part of that decision was because of the home scanning / mobile app deposit options USAA offers.

Before I rag on USAA for what I’m about to rag on them for, I’ll say that I should have noticed before signing up that this idiotic policy was in place. But I assumed theirs was a logical operation, which is my fault. And I should say that this mind-numbing bit of idiocy will not keep me from remaining a USAA customer. Overall I like them so far.

The idiotic, illogical policy is this: USAA welcomes your checking / savings business no matter who you are, but they will only allow you to use their Deposit@Home or Deposit@Mobile services if you are eligible for the services they restrict to military-types.

Let’s go beyond the supposed “trustworthy” nature of people who qualify for other USAA services (I’m not aware that my father had a USAA policy, but as a veteran he could have. And if he did, I could deposit checks via my iPhone. He skipped town on $2 million in debt and left our family nearly destitute. But if he had USAA insurance at some point, I could deposit checks via my iPhone) and the company’s disinterest in evaluating the creditworthiness of individuals (the wife and I have excellent credit, verified in February in refinancing our home. But I’m not “qualified” to deposit checks via my iPhone).

Whatever risk is involved in allowing scanned/mobile deposits is not mitigated by being “qualified” under USAA’s rules, it’s mitigated by being a good credit risk, which I am. But I can’t deposit checks via iPhone because I’m not a “qualified” USAA member.

And let’s go beyond the stupidity of this policy from a business perspective. Obviously they want to get new customers (or they wouldn’t have opened checking / savings up to non-”qualified” people), yet they deny the biggest differentiator they have (remote deposits) to this potential new market. I’ve been a customer of “online” banks since 1998, and the deposit issue has always been the biggest drawback. And here USAA has solved it … except they won’t let me use it because I’m not “qualified” to buy their life insurance.

No, let’s get beyond all that to a point of real stupidity / hilarity.

When I discovered that I will never be able to deposit checks via my iPhone with USAA (verified through an email exchange with customer service), I was directed to the place where I can order postage-paid deposit envelopes to use with the free box of deposit slips I ordered when I set up my account. That’s how I managed deposits with NetBank, so it’s acceptable. And I toyed with the notion of moving our money from our E*Trade account through a series of $10 deposits mailed in using those free deposit slips and postage-paid envelopes. USAA will send me 10 envelopes a week and I have 40 or so E*Trade checks left. It’s what they want, after all.

But, of course, the first thing that struck me was how stupid it is for USAA to push me toward a deposit method that no doubt costs them a lot more money than accepting Deposit@Home or Deposit@Mobile deposits … which is what I would like to do … but they won’t let me.

Consider the flow and ponder the costs:

- They provide me with free deposit slips, which they pay Harland-Clarke to produce and mail to me.
- They provide me with free deposit envelopes, which they pay to have produced and pay to mail to me.
- They pay for the postage required for me to send back the deposit.
- They incur costs to handle and process the mailed-in deposit.

No doubt what USAA ends up with is a scanned image of the checks I’m depositing – the exact same thing I would like to give them without all of the things required to mail in a check.

That’s the stupidity. Today I got the hilarity with my first batch of postage-paid envelopes.

USAA sent them to me in a big “flat” mailer (which costs more to mail than a standard envelope with envelopes in it) so they could include an informative letter (which cost them money to print, of course). The letter contained this message (emphasis added):

As you requested, we have enclosed envelopes to assist you in making your deposits. Please keep in mind we offer other deposit options that will save you time and money. Log on to usaa.com to learn more about:

* USAA Deposit@Home
* Direct Deposit (Payroll)
* Electronic Funds Transfer
* Web Bill Pay

Pure hilarity. Apparently USAA isn’t quite as dumb as I thought – they realize that directing customers away from mailing in deposits is a good business move. They’re just not smart enough to actually offer the service to the new customers they are trying to attract.

The Quotable Les Miles

I just put the wraps on an amusing (to me, at least) new Bet-R Sites project – The Quotable Les Miles. As you might have guessed, the site features quotes from LSU head football coach Les Miles.

If you don’t follow LSU football, the concept probably won’t make much sense to you. But if you’re an LSU fan, you’ll probably understand why the world needs a collection of Les Miles quotes. The man says interesting things, and he says them in interesting ways. I’ve noticed this for a long time – in fact the first thing I wrote about Miles after he was hired was about his quotes at the introductory press conference. So a site with nothing but Leslie quotes seemed like a good idea.

My stepfather had a predictable (as a man who takes pride in defending Les’ reputation) but on-target observation when I showed him the site last week – Les Miles talks like a football coach. More specifically, he talks like an old-school football coach. He doesn’t talk like Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll or many guys who have found themselves on the “highest-paid coaches” list.

A certain degree of media savvy seems to be a prerequisite for big-time coaching gigs these days, but Miles … well … lacks it. But as a big-time college football coach, he’s put in front of the media pretty often, and the result is often funny, head-scratching or just plain bewildering. The Quotable Les Miles just wants to make sure all of this is preserved.

I launched the site with 352 quotes going back to his hiring in 2005 and add more as I find them. The quotes are taken from published articles and transcripts of his press briefings posted on LSUSports.net. As a reformed journalist, I do take care to only use quotes that make sense on their own and stay away from things in transcripts that might be typos and the like. I’m looking for Miles’ actual own words in snippets that make sense as a pulled-out quote.

And I should note that drawing attention to the fact that Miles says interesting things in interesting ways isn’t meant as a criticism of his abilities as a football coach. I’ve been critical of him for years, and I do hold the view I repeat often that he seems like “kind of a dumb guy.” But he was saying as many interesting things in interesting ways when he was winning 12 games and a national title as when he was self-destructing against Ole Miss last year. The rest of the world may have a new view of Miles after last year, but I’ve long recognized the entertainment value of what he says.

I’ve kept the site really simple – just click through the big button with Les’ head on it to view new quotes. New quotes and Quote of The Day posts are also made on the @tqles Twitter account and The Quotable Les Miles Facebook Page. Following or Fanning is obviously something you should do.

How USAA sees occupations in 2010

Now that USAA has opened up its banking products to non-military types, I’m in process of moving our checking and savings accounts over there (refunded ATM charges, good bill pay, free checks, convenient deposits, etc.). So in setting up my profile I was prompted to select an occupation from a pull-down menu. The list of occupations (359 of them) that USAA believes one might be engaged in is pretty good.

Best of it is they have “Dancer” as well as “Dancer (exotic)” and “Dancer (oth exotic)” – not sure which strippers see themselves as “other”.

Yet for myself I guess the right category is “Cmptr related prof”, which I take to mean “Computer related profession”, which I take to mean that USAA sees everybody who has an occupation related to computers as a single type of person whereas there is a great distinction between “Writer” and “Poet”.

The full list:

Accountant
Actor
Actuary
Administrative assistant
Administrative specialist
Administrator
Advertising
Aircraft Maintenance
Analyst (except systems)
Analyst/researcher
Anchorman
Anesthesiologist
Appliance repair
Appraiser
Architect
Artist
Assayer
Astronomer
Attorney general
Attorney/lawyer
Audiologist
Auditor
Bail bondsman
Bailiff
Baker
Bank/fin/invest
Barber
Bartender
Beautician
Bio-chemist
Biologist
Bookkeeper
Botanist
Brick layer
Broadcaster, radio/tv
Building contractor
Bursar
Business executive
Butcher
Buyer
Camera operator
Carpenter
Carpet/floor installer
Cartographer
Case worker
Certified accountant
Certified financial planner
Certified Financial Planner
Certified public accountant
Chef
Chemist
Chief executive officer
Chief financial officer
Chief operating officer
Child care provider
Chiropodist
Chiropractor
Civil servant
Claims adjuster
Clergyman
Clerical/secretary
Clerk
Cmptr related prof
Coach
College instructor
Columnist
Commentator
Company officer
Composer
Comptroller
Congressman
Conservationist
Construction worker
Consultant
Consultant (business)
Consultant (software)
Consultant (tax)
Contractor (other)
Controller
Copy editor
Correctional officer
Cosmetologist
Councilman
Counselor
Counselor-at-law
County commissioner
Courier
Creative arts
Crew member (aircraft)
Crew member (other)
Cryptographer
Curator
Custodian
Customer service
Dancer
Dancer (exotic)
Dancer (oth exotic)
Data entry
Data processor
Day care worker
Dean
Dental hygienist
Dental surgeon
Dentist
Dermatologist
Designer
Dietician
Director
Disc jockey
Dispatcher
District attorney
Doctor
Draftsman
Driller
Driver
Economist
Editor
Education administration
Educator
Electrician
Electronic technician
Endodontist
Engineer
Engraver
Entomologist
Environ researcher
Ethnologist
Examiner (financial)
Executive
Executive assistant
Farmer
FBI agent
Federal agent
Film
Film Crew
Financial examiner
Fireman
Flight attendant
Flight instr (civ)
Flight instr (mil)
Florist
Food scientist
Forester
Formsetter
Furniture maker
General manager
Geologist
Geophysicist
Geriatrician
Gerontologist
Governor
Graduate assistant
Graphic designer
Greenskeeper
Gynecologist
Hairdresser
Head resident
Historian
Homemaker
Housekeeper
Hygienist
Illustrator
Importer/exporter
Information specialist
Ins sls/agnt/brkr
Instructor
Intelligence officer
Interior designer
Intern
Internist
Interpreter
Interviewer
Inventor
Inventory
Investor
IRS agent
Jeweler
Journalist
Judge
Juvenile probation officer
Key punch operator
Landscape architect
Landscaper
Law enforcement
Lawyer
Lecturer
Legal assistant
Librarian
Licensed vocational nurse(lvn)
Linguist
Loan officer
Locksmith
Logger
Machinist
Maintenance worker
Manager
Manager trainee
Manual laborer
Manufacturing representative
Marine biologist
Marketing
Mason
Mathematician
Mechanic
Med sup/health
Media specialist
Medical doctor
Metallurgist
Meteorologist
Micro-biologist
Military enlisted
Military officer
Miner
Mineralogist
Mortgage broker
Mortician
Music director
Musician
Naturalist
Network administrator
Neurologist
News reporter
None
Nurse
Nurse practitioner
Obstetrician
Occup therapist
Oceanographer
Oculist
Office administrator
Office manager
Office worker
Ophthalmologist
Optician
Optometrist
Oral surgeon
Orthodontist
Osteopath
Otologist
Painter
Paleontologist
Paralegal
Paramedic
Park Ranger
Partner
Pathologist
PBX
Pediatrician
Periodontist
Personal trainer
Pharmacist
Photographer
Physical therapist
Physician
Physician assistant
Physicist
Pilot
Planner
Plant manager
Plastic surgeon
Plumber
Podiatrist
Poet
Politician
Postal worker
Preacher
Principal
Printer
Probation officer
Procurement officer
Producer/director
Product manager
Professional athlete
Professor
Programmer
Project manager
Property manager
Proprietor
Prosecutor
Psychiatrist
Psychologist
Public relations
Purchasing agent
Radar technician
Radiodontist
Radiologist
Receptionist
Recreational worker
Recruiter
Refused
Regional manager
Registered nurse
Research scientist
Researcher
Resident
Retired
Rl est sls/agnt/brkr
Roofer
Sailor
Sales manager
Sales retail/mkt rep
Sanitation worker
School administrator
School president
Scientist
Sculptor
Seamstress
Secret service agent
Secretary
Secretary-treasurer
Security guard
Sheet metal worker
Singer
Skilled laborer
Social worker
Sound technician
Speech pathologist
Sports professional
Staff judge advocate
Stagecraft technician
Statistician
Steeple jack
Stenographer
Stock broker
Student
Superintendent
Supervisor
Supply manager
Supply technician
Surgeon
Surveyor
Systems analyst
Tailor
Tax consultant
Teacher
Technician
Telephone Operator
Teller
Theater
Therapist (health)
Tool maker
Trainer
Treasurer
Trust officer
Tutor
Typist
Undertaker
Underwriter
Upholsterer
Urologist
Veterinarian
Videographer
Waiter/waitress
Welder
Wholesaler
Woodsman
Writer
Youth worker
Zoologist

SECCG Pick & Week 13 Recap

I suppose I shouldn’t wait until kickoff to make my SEC Championship Game prediction. I’m going with Alabama, mostly based on what I think with be Fonzie’s ability to get his guys to finish this year’s game after throwing away a perfect season, SEC Championship and BCS title game shot last year.

Bama 20 – 17

Last week I was about as good as the ACC division champs, going 4-3 on the week. I’ll take that to see both participants in the ACC Championship go down to mediocre SEC teams. For the season: 79-15.

LSU / SEC Week 13 Picks

For Les Miles’ sake, I really hope there’s no drama in the LSU / Arkansas game Saturday night. No drama in the sense that Arkansas wins by 30 wouldn’t be a good thing, but a nice, uneventful last few minutes would be a good thing for the coach.

I really don’t know what I expect out of this game. I can’t say the Hogs are particularly impressive. Yes, they are No. 1 in the SEC in passing and total offense, but their big numbers are weighted heavily toward their least challenging games. They have broken past 500 yards in total offense three times this season, against Missouri State, Eastern Michigan and Troy. They have been held under 400 yards by Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The closest Arkansas has come to an impressive win was probably their 33-16 win over 6-5 South Carolina.

So I don’t know that I fear the Arkansas offense – which pretty much means their passing offense. I’m surely not impressed with their defense (No. 95 nationally in total defense; No. 63 in scoring defense). The questions, then, are whether LSU’s defense can contain Arkansas’ offense and whether LSU’s offense can exploit the poor Arkansas defense.

And I think the Tigers can contain Arkansas’ pass game. But it’s not rational to project a big day on offense by LSU, which sits at No. 106 in total offense nationally and No. 76 in scoring offense. We’re down to one true running back – Stevan Ridley – who has any carries this season, and we could well have a coaching staff that thinks “run” first, second and third after getting in so much trouble calling passes last week. The logical thing to do against this Arkansas defense is to throw early and throw often (they are No. 108 in pass defense), so we’ll see if Miles and Crowton have the balls to run the game plan they (hopefully) know they need to run.

How will this play out? I have no idea. About the only thing that would surprise me is if Les Miles isn’t super-quick to call his timeouts. I’ll help Miles get over Ole Miss with a bit of a homer pick.

LSU 26 – 20

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 2 Alabama at Auburn. Pointless to analyze this particular rivalry game. A better shot for an upset in this one than in Florida / Florida State. Wouldn’t shock me, but I got no specific case to make for Auburn.

Bama 24 – 13

Florida State at No. 1 Florida. I don’t see how the Gators could come this far, be this close and then have a weak FSU take it all away in Tebow’s final game at home. Not a likely rivalry upset.

Gators 49 – 21

Georgia at No. 7 Georgia Tech. Hard to imagine the Dawgs can pull themselves together on the road against a strong Tech team the week after UGA lost at home to Kentucky. Georgia could have a shot in this one since their rush defense is fairly strong and all Tech has on offense is the run. If they hadn’t screwed the pooch against Kentucky, I might actually pick them here.

Jackets 31 – 27

No. 18 Clemson at South Carolina. The Cocks have lost four out of five, with their sole win coming over Vandy by four points. Clemson has won six straight, and apart from a regretful loss to Maryland only has a three-point loss to No. 7 Georgia Tech and a four-point loss to No. 4 TCU blemishing the record. Quite a nice season for Clemson; yet another one falling short for Spurrier and his chickens.

Clemson 35 – 24

No. 25 Ole Miss at Mississippi State. If Nutt were to drop this one after the roller-coaster year, I’d be mighty surprised. Ole Miss fights its way back into respectability.

Rebels 41 – 20

Tennessee at Kentucky. Well, well. Kentucky sits at 7-4; Tennessee at 6-5. Kiffin needs this one bad to finish out the season on a non-sour note. A .500 season wouldn’t look good after the promise the Vols have shown at times. I think the Vols have it together more than Georgia, which is probably the difference in this one.

Vols 27 – 26

In the frenzy of hideous uniforms and inexplicable coaching performances, I let last week’s tally get past me. I only missed Kentucky beating Georgia after picking Ole Miss to win – but not the way they did. For the week: 5-1; for the season: 75-12.

I have to defend Les Miles on something

LSU head coach Les Miles has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past three days because of his inexplicable mismanagement of the final minute in LSU’s loss to Ole Miss Saturday. And that scrutiny is well-deserved.

Miles has a history of questionable and poor game management during his tenure at LSU. It’s infuriated me quite a lot in the past and I haven’t been shy about calling him out. There are plenty of examples, dating back to his second game in 2005 against Tennessee to ill-advised timeouts he took against Arkansas in 2007 to give the Hogs a final chance to score before overtime to the little-noticed lunacy of timeouts called at the end of the first half against Washington this year that led to an extra three points for the Huskies.

But in cataloging Miles questionable football capabilities, the media is dragging up a Miles myth from the Auburn game in 2007. That myth says Miles went all-in on a pass play as time expired instead of kicking a field goal that would have won the game. Glenn Guilbeau of The Shreveport Times reports that ESPN’s Chris Low cited the 2007 Auburn game in chronicling Miles questionable decision-making:

ESPN.com’s Chris Low included all levels of football in his ranking of Miles’ late-game performance.

“You could watch football for a long time (on any level) and not see a worse butchering of an end-of-game situation then you saw from LSU,” he wrote. “Miles seemed as lost in trying to explain it all as he did when it was all melting down around him on the sideline. And let’s face it: Les Miles has played with fire before in the same situation.

“He got away with that one (the 2007 Auburn game), but not this time. There was zero direction on the LSU sideline. There were so many mistakes by the LSU’s offensive staff that the hardest part is trying to figure out where to start.”

Yes, Les Miles displayed an unfathomable level of incompetence at the end of the Ole Miss game. It’s inexcusable that
a $3.8 million man could be so incompetent. But what happened in the 2007 Auburn game is the Myth of The Last Second, as I explained two years ago.

Was it a ballsy call? Yes. Can I say with any confidence that Miles and his staff were fully aware of the game clock and simply calculated what they would need to run that play? No. I think they figured they would have enough time, but also might have expected to get the snap off with more than eight seconds left to play.

But regardless, it was a brilliant call that caught Auburn (and the world, apparently) off-guard and gave the Tigers an extra shot at winning the game before trying a field goal.

And, of course, Demetrius Byrd caught the ball with four seconds left; not one. I invite you to relive it:

Miles may well be a year or two and another embarrassing mistake or two from being fired. And if he is, moments like the Ole Miss fiasco will get heavy coverage in his epitaph highlight reel. But the 2007 Auburn call doesn’t belong there.

LSU’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms – the full abomination

Nike is set to unveil the next worst moment in LSU football history today. And though they can’t top Les Miles’ performance in the last minute of the Ole Miss game, they come sort of close.

I give you the LSU Nike Pro Combat uniform in all its abominable glory:

LSU's Nike Pro Combat uniform

LSU's Nike Pro Combat uniform


So let’s break this ugly mother down.

Nike’s “theme” for the uniform is “Cochon de Lait” because it’s being worn for the Arkansas game. The concept is described on Nike’s Pro Combat site thusly:

The Bayou Bengals are planning an old-fashioned pig roast, complete with an updated dress code inspired by the legendary LSU teams of the 1940s.

As I pointed out before, of course, there wasn’t anything particularly legendary about LSU football in the 1940s. No national titles, no SEC titles, one bowl win, .600 winning percentage. So in the press release that goes out today, Nike has changed the notion of this “tribute” somewhat:

The uniform draws inspiration from LSU teams of the 1940s, led by legendary Tigers quarterback Y.A. Tittle. A dark gold helmet is a similar tone to the look worn by the Tigers during Tittle’s era. The color also represents the Golden Boot that LSU will play for on November 28, as it does annually.

So now the teams weren’t legendary, just Y.A. Tittle. At least they seem to understand history a little better now.

OK, so a top to bottom examination of this monstrosity.

The helmet:
lsu_pro_combat_helmet

Hey, hold on a second. Something’s a little off between the helmet shown in the full uniform shot and the one in the helmet detail.
helmet_compare

Did LSU’s administration grow a spine? The helmet shown in the detail looks pretty familiar, and it’s definitely not the Washington shade of gold. Interesting. We’ll have to see what’s officially rolled out today, I guess.

But the concept is this tribute to the storied years of the 1940s … I mean Y.A. Tittle. That gold (edit: the “old gold”, not the current gold), of course, is closer to the gold worn by the legendary teams of the 1940s … I mean Y.A. Tittle. Mr. Tittle, of course, didn’t have the current LSU helmet logo on his helmet; that didn’t come along until 1977. If what we see is the old gold helmet with no logo (which seems like what’s in the full-uniform shot), then that’s probably Nike’s original concept. If we see the helmet that’s the current LSU color (or close to it) and logo, I guess that means LSU balked at the wholesale change. And I guess that’s a good thing, but the results would be even uglier than the full Nike concept.

If they are going to bill this as a tribute to the storied 1940s Tigers … I mean Y.A. Tittle (as opposed to, say, the 1958 National Championship team), at least be true to the history. This just comes off as a hideous compromise of Nike and LSU’s ideas.

UPDATE: Photos are in from the “pep rally” on campus today unveiling these things. The helmet is I guess the “old gold” (looks a little different in natural light?). Hey, I only posted what Nike provided, and they still show the yellower version in their media material.

LWEMEGXASZRTCEU.20091123205034

The jersey:
lsu_pro_combat_jersey

Below the helmet, there’s really nothing at all that would identify this getup as an LSU uniform. Those aren’t our shades of purple and gold. We don’t outline our numbers like this. Our stripes stand proudly on our shoulders, not crammed in to the tiny remnants of sleeves modern jerseys have. And our stripes are gold in the middle with purple borders, not the other way around.

Again, they’re selling this as a tribute to the jersey Y.A. Tittle wore. Yeah, OK. It’s true that in the 1940s we had stripes on our sleeves instead of our shoulders. But back then, they actually had sleeves. With no proper sleeves to speak of, the notion of this as a “tribute” falls apart. And, again, if they had gone with a “tribute” to the 1958 team, we’d not only still have our proper colors, but we’d have stripes on the shoulders. But that would get in the way of the “high tenacity yarn” on the shoulders that Nike sells as a major feature of this uniform. Can’t get in the way of Nike marketing, you know.

The pants:
lsu_pro_combat_pants

White pants. Enough said there. Never should happen with LSU. And, of course, Nike feels the need to stylize the stripes. And the “L” on the leg? I’ve never seen just an “L” linked to LSU except for in Everybody’s All American, when LSU officials didn’t want our actual name associated with a dirty movie. edit: comments here and elsewhere about the use of “L” with LSU apart from the uniforms specifically have changed my mind. I’m OK with the “L”, but still think LSU was stupid for not letting Everybody’s All American call its team “LSU”.

Shoes:
lsu_pro_combat_shoes_profile

lsu_pro_combat_shoes_detail

lsu_pro_combat_shoes_top

If Nike is honoring Y.A. Tittle with this uniform, they must be honoring M.C. Hammer with these shoes. Just … wow. These don’t look like shoes that would actually, you know, perform well on the field. But I suppose Nike does know what they are doing there. Before they became a fashion house, they used to make shoes.

The getup also includes gloves with fancy designs, but those aren’t worth the bandwidth. The gloves do carry the sole appearance of LSU’s stupid “eye of the tiger” logo, and the only good news about this hideous uniform is that the “eye” doesn’t seem to appear elsewhere.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m really not happy that LSU is turning over its season finale this weekend to Nike for an infomercial. You can count on a segment in the broadcast Saturday night where the sideline reporter talks about the technology of the uniform, how it’s lightweight, how modern players are more like track stars, etc. It’s a marketing gimmick, not a “tribute”. And shame on LSU for participating.

It should also be noted that LSU appears to be the program that’s allowed Nike to screw with its identity the most for this infomercial series. The historically-inaccurate helmet logo (and color?) is really the only thing that would identify these players as being an LSU team. I don’t think any of the other 10 teams (Clemson apparently is a part of this, but they aren’t on the promo site) had their colors changed, and I know none of them allowed both a color change and radical change in uniform design.

It’s sad. You’d think a head coach that’s been with the program for just under five years, an athletic director that’s been with the program for 17 months and a chancellor that’s been with the program for 15 months would be better guardians of LSU’s identity. Actually, I guess you wouldn’t think that.

LSU / Ole Miss: The Judgment

If Les Miles could change the outcome of one play in LSU’s loss to Ole Miss, it might be his Tigers’ onside kick in the final minute. If Dexter McCluster grabs the ball instead of jumping away from it, Leslie would only be facing questions about his team’s performance from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth. Instead, he’s facing very real and justified questions about his competence and even his character.

Without the kick recovery, LSU would not have stood at the Ole Miss 32-yard line (after an excellent screen pass to and run by Brandon LaFell), within range of Josh Jasper with 56 seconds and two timeouts remaining.

Without the kick recovery, Miles and Gary Crowton would not have been able to call the first-down pass play that put LSU (No. 105 nationally in sacks allowed) in a position to be nearly sacked by Ole Miss (No. 25 nationally in sacks). Nor would Miles and Crowton have been able to call another pass play on second down, which did result in a sack, taking the team out of field goal range and forcing the use of its second timeout.

Without the kick recovery, Miles and Crowton would not have been able to put their team in a third and 19 situation with 32 seconds and one timeout left. Nor would Miles and Crowton have been able to call a slow-developing swing pass (to Stevan Ridley, the running back Miles and Crowton weren’t comfortable handing the ball off to) that lost another seven yards and six seconds.

Without the kick recovery, Miles could not have failed to call a timeout (or instruct his players during the previous timeout to do so) for 16 seconds after the third-down play ended, leaving only nine seconds remaining for LSU’s fourth-and-26 play.

Without the kick recovery, we would not know that Miles and his staff were completely unprepared for any outcome of a long pass other than a touchdown, incompletion or interception.

And, most significantly, without the kick recover we would not have seen Miles flat-out lie about his actions following the Hail Mary completion:

There is no other way to put it. Miles lied when he said he was not calling for a spike after the long completion. He lied, and he shifted blame to Jordan Jefferson. The game footage also clearly shows LaFell motioning for a spike after looking to the sideline. Jefferson looks confused but also seems to believe he’s being told to spike it. And he was. Those who blame Jefferson for any of this are very much misguided. He was given no plan, just orders from the sideline after the catch. There was no time to take a snap, anyway.

Update: There is a school of thought that Miles was signaling that Toliver was down after an Ole Miss player came up with the ball. That is a plausible explanation, but there are a couple of problems with that analysis. First, watching the YouTube clip in sync with the CBS telecast, you can see that Miles is still making that motion after the referee has indicated LSU possession. Second, LaFell clearly got the “spike” signal from the sideline and D.J. McCarthy is seen doing it as they get to the line. And finally, the first shot of Miles shows him going back to who I think is special teams coordinator Joe Robinson, saying something and making a kicking motion as the offense lines up for the spike. Clearly he wouldn’t think they would be able to get the kick team out before a spike play is run.

Miles lied about the spike call, and I strongly suspect he’s lying about trying to call a timeout when the previous play ended. Of the timeout situation, Miles said:

“I heard the timeouts being called verbally and I’m repeating it but not getting it to the officials apparently,” Miles said.

Only players and the head coach can call timeouts. So I guess Miles is saying his coaches were telling him to call a timeout; he was calling for a timeout … but the officials didn’t hear him?

If you recall from my award-eligible 2007 video “I’m The Head Coach”, Miles is both not shy about making sure the refs know he’s calling timeouts (even when he shouldn’t) and sometimes clueless about the game situation:

I would really love to see video of what was going on with Miles and the coaches after the third-down play. It’s inexcusable that his players were not instructed during the previous timeout to call another one if the play ends inbounds. It’s unbelievable that Miles would have been unsuccessfully asking for a timeout for 16 seconds. He seems to be claiming that he’s calling for a timeout, but not in a way where the officials can hear it. I can’t believe that’s what happened.

So, because of the kick recovery, we’re left with an ugly reality. Les Miles and his staff are incompetent when it comes to basic game management. Any sort of advanced game strategy (for instance, not trying two pass plays when you’re in range of a winning field goal, your team gives up a ton of sacks and you’re facing a team that gets a lot of sacks) seems way too much to ask from this group.

I’m not surprised by Miles’ incompetence. I’ve been pointing it out since his first game as LSU’s coach and have never been swayed from my opinion that he seems like kind of a dumb guy. But I’m surprised and more than a little concerned that he seems willing to lie about what takes place during his demonstrations of incompetence. That’s a really big deal – gets to a man’s character.

The “fire Les Miles” calls seem to have really come out in force after this debacle. I don’t think he should be fired because of his decisions in the last minute of yesterday’s game. I think it’s fair to question the direction of the program at the end of the season – and next week’s game against Arkansas will be important in that regard. And I think LSU has seen its best days under Les Miles. Because he Forest Gumped his way into a National Championship two years ago, he’s got a lot of padding to absorb questions about his current performance. And I don’t know that I would fire him this year if we lose to Arkansas, lose a bowl game and end up 8-5 again. Even if it’s the right call, it would still seem very reactionary. Unless LSU had a hugely solid guy in mind to succeed him, it probably isn’t the right time.

However, what I think is absolutely in order is an internal investigation of Miles’ statements and documented actions that seem to indicate he’s lying about what went down at the end of the game. Miles’ contract has a “Standards” clause that states the following:

COACH shall perform his duties and personally comport himself at all times in a manner consistent with good sportsmanship and in accordance with the high moral, ethical and academic standards of the Athletic Department and the UNIVERSITY.

And violation of those Standards are cause for termination. I would assume lying about your actions on the job would be a violation of the high moral and ethical standards of the Athletic Department and LSU. I’m not saying Miles should absolutely be fired if it’s determined that he lied about what happened in the Ole Miss game, but I think there’s clearly cause for the university to look into his statements and conflicting evidence of what happened. And if it’s determined that he lied, at least a suspension would be in order.

I’ll be interested to see how all this plays out. I don’t think it can just go away. Miles, I’m sure, will want everybody to focus on the super-awesome new uniforms Nike is putting his team in for the Arkansas game and “finishing strong”. But there’s a really dark cloud over Miles right now.

If only McCluster didn’t jump away from that ball.

More details on the LSU Pro Combat Nike uniforms


Update: The LSU Nike uniforms in their full abominable glory.

The super-marketeers of Nike are still waiting until Monday to officially unveil the abomination of a “Pro Combat” special uniform they’ll inflict upon Tiger fans who attend the Arkansas game next weekend, but they continue to drop clues in their source code.

Nike's LSU abomination

The theme is, in fact, “cochon de lait”, which Nike explores thusly:

The Bayou Bengals are planning an old-fashioned pig roast, complete with an updated dress code inspired by the legendary LSU teams of the 1940s. Toggle through the views below to explore the innovation and heritage behind the new uniform. Then get the “Cochon de Lait” T-shirt in time for gameday.

OK, so we’re wearing this for the Arkansas game, and they are Hogs. Ha, ha – good one. Nike produces audio descriptions of the uniforms (and accompanying theme t-shirts – on sale soon!), and LSU’s is embedded below.

Biggest problem I have with their description is “it says winners get to wear gold, and they also get to wear white. And it says no one can hold them Tigers when they’re wearing this getup.”

Yeah, we already wear gold and white guys. And that’s “gold” as defined by LSU in the 1950s, not what some Nike designer in Oregon perceives as “gold”. We’ve done just fine without the help of your “getup”, Nike. Real winners would tell Nike to shove off when they talk about messing with a 50-year-old uniform design to promote the company’s new line of football gear.


Update: Hat tip to And The Valley Shook for digging around in Football Fanatics and uncovering a t-shirt that shows the full design of this horrible helmet:
LSU abomination


This really has me incensed. Nike is trying to play this off as a 1940s “tribute” (because of the different type of gold color), but uses the helmet logo that LSU adopted in 1977. What they are doing, in fact, is saying they like the shades of purple and gold used by Washington better than the shades LSU uses. And LSU let them do it. Absolutely inexcusable. My anger level is up 300% now.

It’s hard to say whether the worst thing LSU is letting Nike to do our program is this helmet or this uniform that inverts LSU’s purple and gold stripes and reduces them to an almost-invisible element.
h_u_12h_u_10

On the gold helmet, Nike says:

Gold helmet is a tribute to the storied LSU teams of the 1940s, and a nod to the “Golden Boot” which LSU battles for.

Let’s just back up a bit. Nike says the uniform is inspired by the “legendary LSU teams of the 1940s” and the gold helmet is a tribute to the “storied LSU teams of the 1940s”. Really?

If you’re not well-versed in LSU football history, this is what the 1940s looked like:

1940: 6-4; 3-3 in the SEC
1941: 4-4-2; 2-2-2 in the SEC
1942: 7-3; 3-2 in the SEC
1943: 6-3; 2-2 in the SEC
1944: 2-5-1; 2-3-1 in the SEC
1945: 7-2; 5-2 in the SEC
1946: 9-1-1; 5-1 in the SEC
1947: 5-3-1; 2-3-1 in the SEC
1948: 3-7; 1-5 in the SEC
1949: 8-3; 4-2 in the SEC

National titles – 0; SEC titles – 0; Bowl Games – 3; Bowl Game Wins – 1; Years finishing in the Top 20 – 3; Highest ranking – 8 (1946); All-Americans – 0; All-SEC picks – 8; Decade winning percentage – .600.

The only really notable year of the decade was 1946, with a team that featured Y.A. Tittle that ended the season with a 0-0 tie in the “ice bowl” Cotton Bowl game – against Arkansas. Maybe Nike could build their marketing gimmick around that, but they’re going with “legendary” and “storied” for LSU’s very forgettable decade of the 1940s.

If Nike wants “legendary” and “storied”, LSU has it. They could have gone with a “throwback” (a generous term for this uniform) to 1959 and rolled that out on Halloween for the 50th anniversary (to the day) of Billy Cannon’s punt return. Or a tribute to the 1958 National Championship team. Those seem like the obvious choices, especially given that the Ohio State “throwback” is to their 1954 National Championship and the Oklahoma “throwback” is to their 1955 National Championship. The 1958 & 1959 LSU teams would be in that mold, but I guess a “throwback” to our same-colored helmets with numbers on them isn’t enough of a change for Nike (their “throwbacks” of Ohio State and Oklahoma both mean the helmet color changes).

Likewise, a tribute to the Tigers of the 1960s (SEC championship, four Top-10 finishes, two Sugar Bowl; two Cotton Bowl and one Orange Bowl win; 10 All-Americans) wouldn’t be a radical enough shift for Nike. And if they wanted a cool “throwback”, the Bert Jones-era helmet logo was pretty sweet. But also on the same-color helmet we wear now. That wouldn’t pass Nike muster, I guess.

But the “throwback” notion is a joke anyway. And Nike doesn’t try to call it that – just a “tribute” or a “nod” in this “updated dress code”. Kind of an oxymoron, but we don’t need our “dress code” “updated” anyway.

So what else will be worked into LSU’s Nike commercial next Saturday? It says “Tigers” on the back of the pants and “Team” inside the jersey collar and on the gloves.

h_u_11

“Team” is a current LSU mantra, but it would be cooler if they put “Damn Strong” or “Have a Great Day” inside the collar – seriously, that would be cool.

The undergarments of this uniform do contain a pretty cool design element. It’s the face of a tiger with “LSU” above it:

h_b_06

Hey, where have I seen that before? Right – it’s the logo Nike took off of LSU’s helmets. Good enough for the underwear but not for our helmets? Put it back.

Then there is what I guess is the whole point of this – the t-shirt Nike wants you to buy.
page_bg_shirt

Oh yeah, that’s awesome. Dude can wear that to a Nickelback show after the season is over.

So those are so more details. I expect full images of the uniforms to be findable before the official release, so I’ll put ‘em up when I get ‘em. Hat tip again to Friends of The Program for initially sniffing out this stuff.

LSU / SEC Week 12 Picks

What’s the difference between the 2008 LSU Tigers and the 2009 LSU Tigers? Georgia sucks this year.

Well, it’s not quite that simple, but after suffering through a very poor LSU patsy win last Saturday, this season is feeling a lot like 2008 – except that Georgia sucks. Last year, Georgia didn’t suck and LSU stood at 7-3 going into the final stretch against Ole Miss and Arkansas. And we suffered through a very poor LSU patsy win against Troy right before that.

But Georgia sucks, so LSU is 8-2 right now, not 7-3.

What’s really interesting is that ten games in, LSU isn’t much different defensively this year, giving up 311.8 yards per game compared to 311.1 yards per game ten games in to 2008. We’re 22 yards per game worse against the rush but 22 yards per game better against the pass. Minus the gifts of Jarrett Lee, however, LSU’s scoring defense is much improved at 13.7 points per game (compared to the pick six-aided 24.9 points per game of 2008).

Remember how the 2008 LSU defense was so horrible that Les Miles’ ridiculous “co-coordinator” experiment was ended and the high-profile John Chavis was brought in as the defensive savior? Kind of interesting that LSU’s defense hasn’t actually improved under Chavis this year but you don’t hear much grumbling.

I guess it’s hard to focus on the defense when your offense is this bad.

Last year at this time, LSU was averaging 394.2 yards per game. We are now averaging 310 per game, with rush yards down 44 and pass yards down 40 per game. Scoring has dropped off from 32.1 to 25 per game. And we’ve gone from allowing 1.2 sacks per game to allowing 2.7 sacks per game. And this, of course, with a “more experienced” quarterback, most of the skill guys back and the best offensive line Les Miles says he’s ever had.

Clearly there’s something wrong there. Some say Gary Crowton is over-complicating things; others say Jordan Jefferson just isn’t up to the task of leading an SEC offense. And others say the offensive line just lost too much this year (a theory I tend to agree with). But whatever the cause, it’s a glaring problem.

Which brings us to the No. 8 Tigers’ matchup with Ole Miss on Saturday. Last year, this game marked the beginning of the end for LSU’s season. The Tigers were still clinging to a No. 18 ranking with the prospect of finishing the season 9-3. It didn’t work out that way, of course.

Last year LSU managed a season-low 215 total yards against the Rebels and gave up 408 yards, which was behind only the totals given up to Florida (475) and Georgia (443) that season. And we lost, 31-13.

As I mentioned, LSU’s defense this year is about the same as it was last year; our offense is much worse. Ole Miss’ offense is about the same as last year (405 yards per game compared to 407 last year) as is their defense (313 yards allowed compared to 307 last year). The Rebels are coming off a 41-17 thrashing of a Tennessee defense that’s ranked right behind LSU, and they held the Vols to 112 fewer yards than their average production.

All of this, quite frankly, does not bode well. Even if LSU can contain McCluster and the Ole Miss offense, the Tigers will be throwing a gimpy offense (literally, with Jefferson, Dickson and Hebert semi-healthy at best and Scott out for the season) at a good Rebels defense that also happens to produce a lot of sacks (LSU gives up a lot of sacks even with a healthy quarterback and offensive line).

Ole Miss and LSU both have motivation in this game – the Tigers can finish in the top 10 with two wins to close out the year; the Rebels can reach nine wins by closing out strong. But I don’t see any advantage for LSU, especially on the road.

Rebels 31 – 9

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Kentucky at Georgia. A battle of two 6-4 teams (no, really), but these teams really aren’t comparable. Kentucky is a bad game by Auburn away from having one SEC win (over Vandy), and they’ve been generally pretty unimpressive. And while I say Georgia sucks, they are a much better team than Kentucky. Georgia needs this one bad. A win puts the Dawgs at 7-4 going in to a tough rivalry game against Georgia Tech; a loss leaves them scrambling for bowl eligibility – a term made for teams like Kentucky. I don’t see a ‘Cats win in Athens here.

Georgia 38 – 20

Mississippi State at Arkansas. The Bulldogs are staring at another 4-8 season if they don’t get past the Hogs. Arkansas still has a shot at 8-4. I don’t think MSU has the defense to slow down Mallett & Co. or the offense to fully exploit a weak Hogs defense.

Arkansas 45 – 31

Vanderbilt at Tennessee. Remember early in the season when LSU’s 23-9 win over Vandy was considered to be a great performance? Oh, right, the ‘Dores are 2-9 now and 0-7 in the conference. You have to figure Lane Kiffin and his daddy aren’t real happy with last week’s bad loss at Ole Miss. And Tennessee needs this one (and Kentucky next week) to reach 7-5 and claim bowl eligibility.

Vols 52 – 17

Patsies at No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama.

Florida and Alabama

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