"In the game of life nobody -- repeat, NOBODY -- is playing with more house money than Les Miles." -- Me on Twitter just after LSU's 16-14 win over Tennessee
As Homer Simpson would say, it's funny because it's true.
The truly funny thing about that tweet actually isn't its veracity, it's the fact that I had typed that and was about to hit "SEND" before the referee went to the replay official and found out that Tennessee had too many men on the field during the final play of regulation in LSU's improbable win over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon.
The initial spirit behind the tweet, when it appeared LSU was going to lose the game 14-10, was that Les Miles is such a boneheaded clod that he should feel fortunate to continue to pull a seven-figure check after a game where the ending, at least in its chaos if not its score, was something we all saw coming from a mile away.
Yes, even in what would have been defeat at the hands of a 16-point underdog at home, my thinking was that this guy was the luckiest sonofabitch on the face of the earth.
And then, as usual, divine football intervention occurred.
In a classic case of overcoaching, with the game clock winding down and an opposing quarterback (and coach, for that matter) acting more like a panic-stricken five-year-old lost at the mall food court than a Division I quarterback, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley decided to switch defensive personnel groupings when, in retrospect, all he needed was the guys that were already out there to stand still while LSU spontaneously combusted.
The end result -- Tennessee had 13 men on the field, LSU got a second chance, Steven Ridley barreled in from one yard out, and the Book of Miles added another improbable chapter. LSU 16, Tennessee 14.
Hit "SEND" on a now even more applicable tweet.
Look, you don't become a head coach of a prominent college football program without doing a few things right, I get it. But has anyone ever been more ill-prepared for big moments and come out on the other side clean than Miles? When you have the 91st-ranked offense in the country and you start the season 5-0 (all over BCS conference foes, by the way), you'd like for people to talk about how you're finding a way to win. The fact of the matter is Miles has found new ways to lose games this season, it just so happens his team ended the game with more points than the other team, if that makes sense.
At this point, I've decided to stop trying to explain the Les Miles Phenomenon. Further, I've decided to go ahead and embrace it. Any position of leadership that requires a quick fix, let's stick Lucky Les in there and let him do what he does -- try to find new and exciting ways for him to impale himself on the wall of common sense and fall ass backwards into a solution.
Ryder Cup team? Your new captain for 2012 is Les Miles. Club selection, yardage books, match play selections, none of it will matter. Les will find a way.
Economy? Make Les the head of the Federal Reserve. Dude probably doesn't know prime rate from prime rib, but we'll be booming again by next March.
Fuck, send him to the Middle East. He'll probably trip over Bil Laden on his morning walk. Make him President of the United States. The homeless will be eating lobster and the sick will be healed by Thanksgiving.
I would even go so far as to say he could clean up the Gulf oil spill, despite his documented views on the topic providing all evidence to the contrary.
Indeed, it's Les Miles' world, we're all just trying to be slightly less incompetent in it.
1. House money! To be clear, there are two types of "house money" -- there's the horseshoe-up-your-ass kind (Miles) and then there's the kind where you make even more out of a bad situation than should have been deemed possible. Say what you will about Gary Kubiak's conservative nature and his positively Washington General-esque record on replay challenges, but the fact of the matter is he took his team on the road yesterday without the best receiver in football, the 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year, his starting left tackle, the leading rusher in the NFL for most of the first half, and his starting safety and won a football game. And truth be told, the Texans never trailed and it really never felt like a game they were going to lose. In some sense, this game -- not Indy, not the comeback in Washington, not last week against Dallas -- was the game that was the best yardstick for where the Texans are. "Next man in." They exemplified that yesterday.
2. The St. Raphael's Texans. If you're wondering who they are, it's my son Sammy's 11-year-old football team in Naperville, IL. (Yes, my son who lives in Chicago is on a team called the "Texans." Go figure.) Anyway, I was talking to his coach last week and he was telling me that he was having trouble with a couple kids on the team listening during practice. So I offered up getting a couple actual Houston Texans to record a message to the kids on the importance of listening, teamwork, and coaching. One of the players I had record something was Arian Foster, who was awesome in his message. Of course, then he gets benched for being late to a team meeting, at which point I'm wondering "Do I still send the sound to the coach?" Of course, Foster would up with 187 total yards, so I'm now pondering going back to Foster for a "do over" and just have him say "Listen, don't listen, whatever. Just go get your yards, fools!"
3. Jake Locker. Until Saturday night, when we last saw Locker he was busy revealing his overrated-ness to the nation, going 4 for 20 in a 56-21 drubbing at home at the hands of Nebraska. (Even with that wretched performance and a resume that previously consisted of a win over USC in 2009, some serious athletic gifts, and not much else, draft "experts" still kept Locker in their top 10 on NFL Draft big boards.) Well, Locker got some of his mojo back this weekend, throwing for over 300 yards and rushing for over 100 yards in a 32-31 win over USC that led to the following assessment from Locker's coach Steve Sarkisian:
"What a performance by number 10," Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian said, referring to Locker. "Legendary. That's where legends are made. He showed how big his heart is, that's for sure."
Against a probation-strapped, Lane Kiffin-coached team that will probably finish with five losses. That's where legends are made? Brutal, Sark.
4. EA Sports NCAA 2012. Remember when Vince Young threw for over 200 yards and ran for over 200 yards in the national championship game? (Actually, that's how legends are made, Sark.) Well, that's become a typical Saturday for Denard Robinson who did it again this past weekend, throwing for 277 yards and running for 217 in a win over Indiana. Granted, Indiana isn't USC 2005, but still. So I pose this question, if he keeps doing this week in and week out, does Denard Robinson deserve to be the first player on NCAA 2012 with a rating of 100 or more? Discuss.
5. Taco Bell Mild sauce. Mild finally got its first win of the season in the Taco Bell sauce packet races at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. Long time coming, good to see good things happen to hard workers. No one's been grinding harder than Mild.
1. Discipline. So Arian Foster misses one meeting, shows up late for another, gets benched for about 20 minutes of game time, and then promptly rips off a 74-yard touchdown run while getting nearly all the touches the rest of the game en route to 187 total yards. Uh, message sent. I guess.
2. Boise State. So it begins, the weekly beauty contest to see who will play opposite of Alabama in the BCS Title Game (and truth be told, no one is in the Crimson Tide's league right now, close shave versus Arkansas notwithstanding). This week it was Oregon sliding past Boise State, soon it will be Nebraska, TCU, maybe even Oklahoma, because other than a Thanksgiving weekend game against Nevada, Boise's argument is pretty much closed. There's nothing left on their schedule that will give them any equity. (NOTE: In the past four years, Boise State has actually beaten Oregon, TCU, and Oklahoma on the field. Oh, the irony.)
3. Bud Selig. Just when it seems like Selig is making progress in at least quelling the furor over performance enhancing drugs in his sport, along comes Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. If you had never heard of him before the second half of this season, don't feel bad. Hell, some of his teammates may not have even known who he was. A nondescript, 14-home run per year guy coming into 2010, Bautista nearly doubled his entire pre-2010 career output in one season, hitting 54 bombs. As suspicion-arousing seasons go, Brady Anderson hitting 50 bombs thinks this looks a little funny. Luis Gonzalez going yard 57 times thinks something stinks.
Remember the scene in Rounders where Worm is clearly cheating in a game of poker with some Russian mobsters and his pal Mike McD encourages him to "give a little bit back to them" just to make it look like he's not cheating? Of course, Worm didn't listen, and neither did Bautista. Fifty-four home runs, Jose? Really? You couldn't just hit 34 or 38? You had to hit 54? Hell, the day after he hit his 50th which resulted in the expected eye-rolling, Bautista basically said "EFF YOU" and hit his 51st and 52nd. I'm not saying Bautista is a cheater, I'm just saying that people questioning it is not out of line at all.
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4. Doug Gottlieb. The interview of the weekend was Jim Mora interviewing Michael Vick. Just an incredibly well-done conversation with plenty of backstory. Peter King correctly compared it to a father interviewing his returning son. Well, if that's the case then Gottlieb's interview this week with Mora was kind of like me as a teenager interviewing my dad after he found beer in the trunk of my car. Enjoy....
5. Taco Bell Hot and Fire sauces. Really, guys? Mild? Really?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.