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blacksaint 12-03-2007 10:28 PM

LSU’s Miles now the big man on campus
Coach made all the right moves with Michigan rumors, rise to title game

By Michael Ventre
MSNBC contributor

Yes, it’s Les. He’s The Man. College football usually has one. Sometimes it’s Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Jim Tressel, or a host of others. Right now it’s Miles, by a mile.

In the beginning of the season, Miles made headlines by taking jabs at the Pacific 10 conference, noting to a bunch of alumni that USC had a relatively easy path to the national title game. Well, he was wrong about that. USC didn’t get there. But his LSU Tigers did, and when you combine that with Georgia’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii and the fact that Tim Tebow of Florida is a strong candidate to win the Heisman Trophy, you can conclude that Miles was right.

He also seems to have played the Michigan job opening into a lucrative contract upgrade for himself in Baton Rouge. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the American way. And he deserves it. But he certainly played that hand about as well as a guy can play it.

On top of all that, he’s still a Michigan man, which means that if he beats Ohio State in the national championship game, he will make a lot of people in and around Ann Arbor so ecstatic that they’ll forgive him for not taking the coaching job there.

His Tigers aren’t a great team, but to be fair, there isn’t a great team out there this year. LSU didn’t get to the title game along the expected path, and its defense isn’t as good as advertised. But the Tigers reached their goal, and they have a superb chance to come away winners.

Miles isn’t a blowhard, or a pompous ass. He’s a football guy. He loves his players, loves the game, and loves to compete. If he took a few swipes at the Pac-10, it may have irritated some people on the West Coast. But there was some truth in what he said. Aside from USC, which may be playing the best football of anyone right now, the rest of the conference disappointed, for various reasons.

It may not be admirable for a coach to lob grenades at another coach, another team or another conference. But Miles backed it up. Advantage, Les.

And if he does happen to beat the Buckeyes, he would be wise to stay put and avoid the mistakes Nick Saban made by succumbing to wanderlust. If you win a national title, it’s not like getting a lifetime exemption after winning the Masters, but it’s as close as you can get in college football. Michigan’s 1997 national championship was one reason why it was so hard to push Lloyd Carr out the door.

If Miles’ LSU team beats Ohio State, he will bank a lot of good will among fans and earn interest on it, which might come in handy in down years.

Yes. It’s Les.

Advantage, warm weather
Notice that the programs that seem to be having the most success in recent years are mostly located in warmer weather, or at least moderate climates. I’m talking about Florida, Georgia and LSU in the South, along with Texas and Oklahoma, and USC, to name a few.

Notice that the schools that are having the toughest time are based in the Midwest. That would include Notre Dame as well as most of the Big Ten schools, with the possible exception of Ohio State, which has been dominating that relatively weak competition.

Notice that Urban Meyer turned down the Notre Dame job, where it’s cold (and where the academic standards are rather high), to take the Florida job, where it was much easier to recruit kids who wanted to play in the sunshine and be around girls in bikinis.

Notice that Les Miles passed on the chance to take his “dream” job at Michigan, where it’s chilly, to stay in Baton Rouge.

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