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Wednesday Morning Dawg Bites

These are busy times in Bulldog Nation, so much that is afoot requires our attention. Consequently, and without further ado, I offer you a quick run-down of events of note, on the field and in the blogosphere, complete with a rare admission of error on my part, so you'll want to be sure to read all the way to the end:

O.K., not so much with the shaving for me lately, but still. . . .

I hope...'ll be ready to post something giving Les Miles a little credit if LSU wins a conference title or more this year.

I wrote in reply:

You may rest assured that I will give credit where credit is due if Coach Miles leads the Bayou Bengals to a conference or national title. If he manages not to say anything along the way that makes us all look bad as S.E.C. fans, he will win points with me for that, as well.

Thanks for visiting Dawg Sports and for taking the time to share your views.


T. Kyle King

I sent that e-mail on July 15, 2007, and Louisiana State went on to win the national title, on my BlogPoll ballot as well as in all the major polls. Thereafter, I received the following e-mail from Billy, which arrived on Valentine's Day 2008 and comes to you accompanied by a strong adult language advisory (not to mention a serious need for some proofreading):
I'm sending you this email now with your response from last summer inclosed [sic.] to basically call [sic.] bullshit on your whole "Les Miles is the dumbest coach to ever win [sic.] a national title" idea. You said this summer you'd give him credit. So he's got a national title, but he's still an idiot? Then I guess you must not think much of the following coaches:

Nick Saban
Urban Meyer
Tommy Tubberville [sic.]
Bob Stoops
Jim Tressell [sic.]
Charlie Weiss [sic.]
Steve Spurrier

Miles has beaten them all in his 3 seasons in Baton Rouge. I know its [sic.] hard to admit when you're wrong, but for him to truly be [sic.] this dumb, I guess the rest of the SEC is filled with people who are even dumber. Either that or coaching must REALLY not matter, because Miles is winning 11 games a year despite being apparently a functioning retard. Are you seriously that deluded to believe this? Georgia's been recruiting at a pretty damn comparable level the last few years, so if talent can really overcome coaching that badly, why doesn't Mark Richt have more to show for it?

If Miles is a bad coach for "going 10-2 with 12-0 talent," as you've said, what does that make Mark Richt last season? Given that he lost at home to a 6-6 South Carolina team and got skullfucked by Tennessee? Or how about in 2004 when he couldn't win the East despite Greene, Pollack, Davis, Pope, Thurman, Brown and Gibson? How many NFL guys were on that team?

In general, I find you to be a decent analyst regarding football, but this continued bashing of Les Miles is so one-sided and ignorant of the facts that it's really getting pretty sad.

Give the man his due. He obviously knows how to do something right.

Surely every denizen of the blogosphere, whether blogger, commenter, or lurker, knows by now that I stand resolutely in the camp that believes you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so I cannot claim that I cotton to Billy's approach; he might have gotten a more favorable reaction from me, and one accompanied by fewer qualifications, had he gone about his objective a bit less brusquely (and with fewer split infinitives). Accordingly, ere I concede his basic premise, permit me to add a couple of caveats.

Really, has getting a Southern lawyer riled up ever been a good idea?

If I were making a case for Les Miles's coaching acumen, I don't think I'd be hurling animadversions and imprecations regarding another team's success against the Tennessee Volunteers. (Mark Richt has a winning record against the Big Orange and his assistant coaches have never had to dissuade him from attempting frantically to call a time out during a clock stoppage.) Likewise, if I were an L.S.U. fan, I don't know that I'd be too terribly critical of Georgia's 2004 team.

I likewise don't know that my basic criticism of Les Miles---that he guides 13-0 talent to an 11-2 record---necessarily has been debunked by a 12-2 season, particularly in light of his decision to throw the ball in the final seconds against Auburn, which (as noted by Orson and by Sunday Morning Quarterback) was an ill-considered move, no matter how much MGoBlog tried to justify it when defending the man Brian Cook then mistakenly believed would be Michigan's next coach. (To Brian's credit, he knew in more temperate and less error-prone times that the Miles-to-Michigan movement was worse than orthogonally wrong.)

Nevertheless, a promise is a promise; I wrote last July that I would give Coach Miles credit if he led L.S.U. to an S.E.C. championship or a national title, and he did both of those things, guiding the Fighting Tigers to victory with a series of gutsy fourth-down calls against Florida. He may have needed a heck of a lot of help to do it, but do it he did, and, although I'm glad to know that my head coach is not so desperately in need of defending that I'd have hung onto an e-mail for seven months just so I could tell the author of it that I told him so, the fact is that Billy told me so, and I am a man of my word.

Billy, if you're out there reading this, you were right and I was wrong: Les Miles is a better coach than I gave him credit for being, and he has the national championship to prove it. Personally, I don't think he's in a class with Mark Richt---who, unlike Les Miles, has (a) a season with fewer than two losses in his ledger, (b) more than one conference championship to his credit, and (c) a 1-0 record in head-to-head competition with the other guy---but, like Sunday Morning Quarterback says, the crystal ball cures all.

Go 'Dawgs!