Cavalcade of Whimsy - Oh That Wacky Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles
Posted Oct 5, 2010

Les Miles might be a disaster when it comes to clock management, but his team is 5-0 and in the thick of the national title chase. Alabama's brutal schedule, Denard Robinson's special season, Ohio State's big concern, and much, much more in the Week Five Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Oct. 5 - Week Five

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season 
- Jan 19, Part 1 - Oh those wacky coaches 
- Jan 19, Part 2 - The sucky 2009 season 
- Sept. 7,  The Marcell Dareus Issue
- Sept. 14, The Boise State Issue
- Sept. 21,  MSU's Wild Weekend
- Sept. 28,  Is Boise State the new Florida State or Miami?

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- Week Five, Part 2 - How to fix Texas, Florida, and more 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … outside of Steve Sarkisian's children being born, this is the best column ever.

"From what I hear, you couldn't hit water if you fell out of a f***ing boat." … I want that Jake Locker. He'll never be Mr. Completion Percentage, and it took a USC missed field goal to pull off the win, but still, Locker's game against USC (24-of-40, 310 yards, one touchdown, 12 carries, 110 yards, mostly while partially concussed), on a different level, was almost as impressive as anything Denard Robinson has done this year. Almost.

How many Tennessee defensive players does it take to screw in an LSU win? None. Apparently, according to Dooley, the officials will take care of the screwing all by themselves
… There's no truth to the rumor that Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley will get to name the new 12-team Big Ten Conference and the new ten-team Big 12 Conference.

"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you gentlemen, but you seem to have me confused with a character in a fictional show. Now, if you'll excuse me, my fondue is just about ... "
… Who could be that inept at the end of a game and come out looking like Stephen Hawking compared to Captain Mensa and his band of 13 merry men on the other side of the field?


Ya damn right!

Who could lose two regular season games, tell everyone he's taking the Michigan head coaching job, and then fall assbackwards into a national championship?


Can you dig it?

Who else could be on the right side of an awful celebration call to set up last year's win over Georgia?


Right on!

Who, when down by one and in easy field goal range, gets a win over Auburn in 2007 by throwing for a touchdown with time ticking out and one time out left in the pocket?


Shut your mouth!

He's a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman

There have been times when the Tigers have been burned by Miles' inability to think clearly down the stretch, like last year when they gacked away the final moments in a loss to Ole Miss, but for the most part they've gotten away with it. For all of the wackiness and all the horrible mismanagement, Miles still produces.

College football is a results business, and there are plenty of very smart head coaches who'd love to go 56-15 over the last 5+ years with two SEC West titles, one national title, a No. 3 finish in one of the years without a championship, and with four very good bowls wins and almost a fifth last January, However, as cute as this all might be, it LSU starts losing, the track record of flakiness will be used as a convenient excuse to push him aside.

In case you were wondering, the Toledo – Boise State showdown kicks off a 8 … Is it possible to make the Iron Bowl the SEC Championship game so we can all find something better to do on December 5th?

But here's the crazy part about the possibility of a rematch between Florida and Alabama, especially after the dominant 31-6 Tide win in Tuscaloosa, the Gators might be more of a lock to play for the SEC title than the Tide.

For all the talk and all the scrutiny about the Boise State schedule and how bad it is, that's how much focus and respect needs to be given to the Alabama slate, which might be among the harshest in college football history.

Florida isn't all that great, but it should win the East by default. Vanderbilt and Kentucky are Vanderbilt and Kentucky, Tennessee is awful, Georgia is the million dollar team with ten-cent production, and South Carolina, as good as it is, has to go to Gainesville and still has to face Alabama and Arkansas. The Gamecocks can beat Florida and still not play for the title. Meanwhile, Florida has a goofy LSU team at home, Mississippi State, the free space against Georgia, at Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. The Gators can probably lose once more and still to book rooms in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Alabama, who has already beaten Penn State (I know, that's not a big deal, but it's still a brand name win), won at Arkansas, and went through the motions to beat Florida. That would be enough to send Boise State fans into a BCS Championship tizzy, but that might not turn out to be the easy portion of the program.

There's no question that Alabama is better than every team left on the schedule by two touchdowns, but it's asking a lot of any team to go unscathed in the SEC with the cumulative effect of this (remembering the three big games the team has already played): at South Carolina, Ole Miss, at Tennessee, at LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn. That might not seem that daunting a task on a game-by-game basis, but all six of those teams get two weeks to rest up and prepare. All six.

While the Tide will get a bye week before the LSU game, it's impossible for any team to stay mentally sharp week after week after week and not have one clunker in the bunch. Fine, so the SEC is more reputation than talent right now with a slew of mediocrity across the board, but it will still be a feat if Alabama gets to the SEC title game on a 26-game winning streak.

A few gift-wrapped Ryan Mallett passes don't hurt, either … To Texas, Florida, and all other superpowers who can recruit anyone they want, there are no excuses anymore. The Alabama defense proves that losing almost all the starters from a national championship team shouldn't matter for the elite of the elite programs.

"Again. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. So what happens then? Pandemonium." … Ohio State, here's a game tape of the 2010 BCS Championship. See Colt McCoy getting crunched … rewind … and again. And again. See Colt McCoy walking into the locker room. See the hot mess that ensues as the national championship season goes bu-bye. You could take any one player off Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Boise State, TCU, or Nebraska and they'd survive. If Joe Bauserman has his hands under Michael Brewster's hotplate for any appreciable length of time, Ohio State isn't winning the national title.

"When you shoot. you adjust for the wind. Out at the beach, the wind can push the ball six to eight inches. You wouldn't know about that." … Actually, Ohio State isn't winning the national title until Terrelle Pryor can hit a receiver 14 yards down the field on a 3rd and 8. I don't want to hear about the wind, I don't want to hear about how Pryor was hurting, and I don't want to hear about how the offense is working out the kinks. Ohio State isn't going to win both road games against Wisconsin and Iowa unless the offense is better than 38.8% on third downs and Pryor starts to threaten with a downfield passing game.

3rd and 13 late in the third in a tight game against Illinois … running play. 3rd and long in the fourth, and the pass was safe and underneath forcing OSU to kick a field goal to keep the Illini alive. It's interesting that when the slightest bit of adversity struck, Tressel Ball was in full effect.

According to the calculations … carry the three … you're a NERD … It's at this point in the program when many stat guys will hit me with reams of numbers trying to prove that third down conversion percentage is overrated. Of the teams connecting on 45% or more of their third down plays (32 teams), North Texas is the only one with a losing record and 11 of the teams are unbeaten. Of the 54 teams connecting on fewer than 39% of their third down chances, like Ohio State, only the Buckeyes, Arkansas, Michigan State, UCLA, Toledo, Maryland, South Florida, SMU and Fresno State have winning records.

"That's it. Th-th-th-that's all? The most intimate record of... every detail about Pat's life and not a single clue about Pat's sex? Why? Why, that's so unfair!" … We're going to have to quickly adjust how Denard Heisman is viewed over the second half of the season. While rolling up Connecticut, Notre Dame, Massachusetts, Bowling Green, and Indiana might not seem like it's that big a deal, Robinson is doing something that college football has never seen before with two games so far (Notre Dame and Indiana) with 200 yards both passing and running. But that will stop.

Up next is Michigan State, Iowa, and Penn State, and there are games down the road against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Robinson will still be fantastic as long as he's healthy, bit it'll be interesting to see where he is in the Heisman chase if he's running for 78 yards and throwing for 178 against the better defenses. We all ask for game-winning drives out of Heisman caliber quarterbacks, and his gut-check moments against Notre Dame and Indiana, and to some extent, UMass, have changed around Michigan football.

To put what Robinson has done in perspective, former West Virginia QB Pat White, who's considered the prototype for what Rich Rodriguez likes to do with his spread offense, completed 66% of his passes for 1,842 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he ran for 974 yards and eight touchdowns in his 12-game senior season, the finest of his great career. Five of those touchdown passes came against Villanova in what was one of just three games on the year with 200 or more passing yards. In 2006, his best rushing season, he tore off 1,219 yards with 18 touchdowns, and threw for 1,655 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 12 games. In just five games, Robinson has rushed for 905 yards and eight scores and has thrown for 1,008 yards and seven touchdowns.

"Now the night of the fight, you may fell a slight sting, that's pride f***in' wit ya. F*** pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that s***. 'Cause a year from now, when you're kickin' it in the Caribbean you're gonna say, "Marsellus Wallace was right."" … What makes a great color analyst is the ability to easily explain the technical aspects of why something happened on the field the way it did, and how, while not bogging down too much in the X and O jargon. For all his faults, John Madden was brilliant at this early on, Jon Gruden is phenomenal at it once he strips away all the "this guy" and "that guy" garbage, and Jesse Palmer does a nice job of this.

We all know the clichés at this point, so there's no excuse for an analyst to do anything but explain the ins and outs of the action to better educate Joe Viewer. Also, if you're not at the game, the analyst will see things the viewer can't and can put the big play into proper perspective. Do anything else and the moment is ruined.

Up 20-17 with five minutes left in the third, and with a fourth and goal from the one, Michigan State was trying to take control of the battle against Wisconsin in what appeared to be a possible defining early moment in the Big Ten season. The Badger defense did a great job of getting into the backfield and stuffing the play for a huge stand, and instead of providing an explanation of why the stop was made, Craig James came up with this nugget.

"Pride. Pride keeps ball carriers out of the end zone."

No, it doesn't.

Wisconsin's defense was better on that play because the defensive front sniffed it out and got the necessary penetration on a call that took a wee bit too long to develop. The Badger D didn't have any less pride late in the game when Kirk Cousins threw a brilliant touchdown pass on fourth and goal to seal the Spartan win. Michigan State simply executed better, and James was able to show why as the play call that turned out to be a risky one-man route didn't really work and needed the perfect throw.

There's no reason to dumb things down with things like "they wanted it more" or any variations in lieu of actual analysis. Just explain what happened and why, and then viewers can appreciate the greatness of the moment that much more.

"No, what I see is a jealous old machinist who can't stand that his son's become more successful than himself." … Over the next decade, as the son becomes a regular part of our weekends, let's make this clear; football-wise, Oliver Luck is Andrew Luck's dad. Andrew Luck isn't Oliver Luck's son.

Fine, so I think Oregon should be ranked ahead of Boise State, too, but … … Pollsters, here's the deal. You can move Oregon ahead of Boise State based on the win over Stanford, but if the Beavers beat the Cardinal in Palo Alto on November 27th, and if Virginia Tech blows through the next month or so with four straight home wins against Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke, and Georgia Tech, and then wins on the road at North Carolina to go 8-2 before the date against Miami, you have to recalibrate your belief system.

But you can remember there was a time when Pryor threw the ball down the field … Why stop with Oregon at three? If you think Ohio State is a better team than Oregon right now, then by all means put the Buckeyes higher. But if you have them No. 2 partially because the 2010 Rose Bowl is still fresh in your head, then you also have to account for the 19-8 pee-dribbler the Ducks came up with against Boise State to start last season. Neither game from the 2009 season should factor into the equation for 2010, but the humans use the previous year as the foundation for the initial rankings. Never reference what happened last season as any evidence for what's happening on the field right now (guilty as charged over and over again on that) because everything changes so drastically.

"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to." … I've never served in the military and, if ever forced to go, I'd be the first one to either 1) pretend to be gay and try to wuss out of my duty, 2) die in battle in the most gutless way possible after the gay thing didn't take, and/or 3) instantly get hit by "friendly fire" after annoying everyone with my incessant whining about the slightest discomfort, so I'll freely admit that I don't pretend to have the first clue what it's like to have any sort of commitment or honor in that way.

With that said, Air Force using the school's Thunderbird flying team design for the helmets made sense and was sort of cool, but putting the words Freedom and Service in place of the names on the backs of the jerseys for the Navy game seemed a little too forced/Big Brother (no, not the dumbass CBS show)/propaganda/jingoistic, and it seemed a little We've-Got-Spirit-Yes-We-Do considering Navy wore its normal road uniforms. They looked even worse when Jordan "Freedom" Waiwaiole almost ripped Gary Myers' head off on a brutally violent facemask penalty.

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but like the Oregon mascot, I'd wait around in the background for an uncomfortably long time, get too close to Erin Andrews and make fake fawning motions, and wouldn't take the hint that I should leave … It's Year Two, Week Five of my open lobbying of the ESPN College Football Final show guys to give me a helmet sticker and the signed T-shirt, suitable for framing. Why do I deserve one this week? I sat through all seven hours of The Blind Side and only fell asleep six times. Inspired, I provided shelter for a 19-year-old wayward blonde cheerleader. Yes, I am good people.

- Week Five, Part 2 - How to fix Texas, Florida, and more