If I was Les Miles, I would have faked the field goal at the end of regulation. Kicking it was the right call. LSU has a great kicker, it was relatively easy, and it gave them a chance to win in OT. Still, how awesome would a fake have been? Yeah, if it failed Miles would be gone. But if it worked? I can’t think of any better way for him to have reasserted his authority over the team. After all the heat he’s taken – deservedly – for screwing up the end of last week’s game, it would have been cool to see him basically say “F**k all you haters, I’m Les Miles and I coach my way.”
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Bill Simmons has a less expensive solution that lets LSU keep Miles’s recruiting skills but solves his biggest problem: Making decisions at the end of games. Simmons is talking about Eagles coach Andy Reid, but everything in this column applies equally to Miles and LSU.
First, an e-mail to Simmons suggests the idea:
“Andy Reid is a great coach for 3 and a half quarters. In baseball, most starting pitchers do their job really well for most of the game, then need a little help to finish it out. I think you see where I’m going with this. The Eagles need a closer. A coach that they can bring in at the end of close games when they’re trailing, or winning by a touchdown or less (save situations). As asinine as this sounds, tell me Eagles fans wouldn’t strongly consider it.”
How about it Tigers fans?
Now Simmons expands the idea:
Consider it? Are you kidding? They just broke their necks nodding violently. It’s a fascinating idea and I spent way too much time thinking about it. Every coach has a flaw or two. It’s impossible for them to be perfect. In Andy Reid’s case, he knows how to handle the media, build a roster, come up with game plans, delegate to assistants, get his players playing hard for him, keep them prepared and keep them motivated. It’s a eight-step job and he nailed seven of the steps. But he’s helpless with clock management — as we saw last Sunday in painful detail — and since he’s been doing this since the mid-90s, it sure seems like he will always be helpless. It’s his Achilles’ heel. So why not fix it? Either have the Clock Management Closer come in and stand next to him, or even better, just have Reid actually leave the sideline and head into the locker room like a baseball pitcher. He could even get a standing O on his way out. I would love this. Who wouldn’t love this?
As Miles leaves, they could even have a big ceremony for the closer. Like how Bevo precedes the Longhorns or Chief Osceola and Florida State, only it would be one guy, the fourth quarter and Mike the Tiger. Think Mariano Rivera and Enter Sandman, but with the LSU fight song and a 600 pound carnivore escorting the closer. Not only would we have someone who knows how to call the end of a game, but think of the intimidation factor! Especially if they could leave Mike on the field for the rest of the game. Genius, I say.
That’s all I have to say about the most ridiculous, stupid, unbelievable, f’d up ending to a football game I have ever seen.
Well, that and I wonder how many remote controls flew across rooms around this state at about 6:30 tonight.
O.K., and also how about benching Jefferson and Lee and playing without a quarterback? LSU couldn’t be any worse. How the hell you take a sack like Jefferson did in that last drive just blows the mind.
Running out of time, though, was all Les Miles.
First, and most obviously, can we please have a playoff? Unless the teams play each other, no one can say with certainty that Florida is better than Utah, USC, or Texas. The whole idea of voting for a champion is ridiculous. This is football, not synchronized swimming.
Failing that, and this is my second point, how about just making the SEC title game the BCS championship? Or at least banning Oklahoma and Ohio State from BCS games.
Third, and finally, once again, I cannot possibly explain how happy I am that ESPN will be taking the BCS series from FOX after next season. The whole FOX production is terrible. Too many graphics, too much crammed onto the screen at one time, the pointless shots of the sidelines and coaching booths, all of it gets in the way of the reason we’re watching: The Game.
The worst of all is the announcing. I mean, gawd awful bad. Mostly, I guess, because FOX doesn’t normally cover college football, so most of these guys have no clue about the game. The other problem is that they don’t even put their top NFL announcers in the college games. Last night, for instance, was Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis. They’re like third or fourth string NFL guys. The result is some truly horribly, mute-the-t.v.-bad announcing. Like last night, when both Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis lost track of downs after Oklahoma had a first and goal at the Florida nine, and on an Oklahoma third and goal began urging Oklahoma to “go for it” rather than kick the field goal. Here it is, see the stupidity for yourselves:
Good: Fox Sports – like the website, hate the broadcasts – has dropped out of the bidding for the BCS games after 2009. ESPN in the favorite. That would be a huge improvement in everything from pre-game, to announcers, to camera angles. Now if we could get Fox out of baseball and the NFL, too.
Now for the bad.
As everyone knows, especially if you’re a gambler, Sunday the Steelers beat the Chargers 11-10. On the last play of the game, the Chargers tried a crazy Cal-Stanford type lateral play, only to have Pittsburgh’s safety intercept one of the laterals and return it for a touchdown, to make the score 17-10. Only the officials reviewed the play and – based on a mistaken understanding of a rule – overruled the touchdown, leaving the final at 11-10. To the great displeasure of everyone who had taken the Steelers and four points, the officials admitted after the game that they blew the replay; the touchdown should have counted.
The NFL’s response? Not to get rid of replay, a system that probably results in the same amount of blown calls as there were prior to it. Nope, now they want replays of replays. We’re going to have five hour games before too long.
I’m not really mad at them. In a way, last night’s “game” was kind of like a time in high school I asked out a girl who was about three levels higher than me in both looks and popularity. I’m not a bad looking guy, and I wasn’t a dork; she was just smokin’ and everyone knew it. Meanwhile, I didn’t even have a car. But we always got along well, and that gave me false confidence. When she said no, my main reaction was “what the heck was I thinking? No way she was going to say yes.” Ditto last night: My main reaction is to wonder why myself or anyone else was thinking LSU had a serious chance to play for a championship this year. They aren’t a bad team, but they’ll be out of their league against the serious BCS contenders. Two extremely green quarterbacks, neither of whom are very good, and a even more inexperience in the secondary means this won’t be the LSU’s year. The margin for error in the SEC is razor thin, and these two weaknesses will – did – make a huge difference. Everyone should have known that. But we let a few insignificant wins (Hey Aubie!) cloud our good judgment. Florida just revealed what we all ought to have known anyway.
Because having the SEC champ play in the BCS title game seems kind of anti-climatic, now that the only team in the country that looked like it could have stayed withing three touchdowns of LSU, Florida, Georgia or even Alabama, just lost to Oregon State.
I wanted get on the record before the so called big game. I know the networks have to pretend it’ll be close. But anyone not from Columbus who’s watched Ohio State be a beat-on-boy for the SEC the last few years knows they have no prayer against good non-conference teams. It’ll be ugly.
A few thoughts on the first weekend.
Game I enjoyed most? Tech beating Mississippi State. Good game. Tech has great uniforms.
I still hate instant replay. During one of the games (Florida-Hawaii?) the announcers said only a quarter of challenged calls are reversed. Why? There’s no disincentive to stop the game. Coaches should only be allowed to challenge a call if that call resulted in a change of possession or points. And if they lose the challenge, they ought to lose a possession, not just a timeout.
As a Nebraska fan watching Michigan lose to Utah, I kept thinking “Rich Rodriquez is going to be to Michigan as Bill Callahan was to Nebraska.”
When will the ACC lose its BCS status? As USC – both of them – Alabama and East Friggin’ Carolina demonstrated over the last few days, that is one sorry excuse for a football conference.
Other than the one for the SEC and national championships, the race I’m most interested in watching is Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden for most career wins. Ten years ago it looked like Bowden was going to leave Paterno in the dust. Now they’re tied. Given that Joe Pa is the essence of all that is good about college football, while Bobby Bowden is as sleazy faux-good ‘ol boy who runs a corrupt program, I’m sure everyone not named Bowden is with me rooting for Joe Pa to win.
Was any upset more predictable than Bowling Green over Pitt? How does Dave Wannstadt still have a job? He’s been a loser at every head coaching job he’s had. He’s spent the last decade and a half living off his time as an assistant in Dallas.
A four point win over Western Illinois? It’s going to a long season for Hogs fans.
This was my first college football weekend with the DVR. It.Was.Awesome. Miss a key play that the network doesn’t show again? Rewind it yourself. Feel like taking a nap during Va Tech and East Carolina? Just pause the game. Wife says we have to go to the store, but Michigan and Utah are still playing? Recordify it. Time to eat, but not in front of the tv? Pause it. The best part is that when you go back to the game, you can fast forward through all the commercials and instant replays.
All in all, a great day.
The constitution’s guarantee of due process protects all of us from arbitrary and capricious government actions. Unfortunately, there is no similar protection for college football fans.
Really, other than Ohio State, there is no rational way to choose which among the top ten teams in the country ought to be playing for the national title. West Virginia and Missouri both lost their second games last night. The team that was right behind them, Georgia, also has two losses and did not even win its conference, the SEC. ACC champs Virginia Tech? Two losses plus they got spanked by SEC champ LSU, who also has two losses (and several very narrow victories), one of them just last week. Big Twelve winners Oklahoma? Lost to unranked Colorado and unranked Texas Tech. USC? Stop me if this sounds familiar, but they have two losses. What about Kansas, they’ve only got one loss. Yes, but it was last week, they did not even reach their own conference’s championship game, and they played the weakest schedule of any top ten team.
There is one undefeated team: Hawaii is 11-0. But because they don’t play in a BCS conference, they are not going to play Ohio State for the national title. Like I said, “arbitrary and capricious.”
Really, everyone can debate this as much as we want, but it’s like Justice Scalia once said of similarly multi-factored and subjective standards, once you reach a conclusion “it is always possible to disagree with such judgments and never to refute them.” The folks in charge of choosing the teams for the championship game ought to save themselves a lot of time and energy and just choose the teams the same way law professors grade final exams: Put the teams names on paper, throw the papers down the stairs, and whoever makes it the farthest wins.