5 Thoughts - Miles to Michigan?
LSU head coach Les Miles
Is Les Miles really going to go to Michigan when Lloyd Carr steps down? There's already one 2,000-yard rusher this year and another on the way ... can you name them? Clemson, unsung players, and more in the latest 5 Thoughts.
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But if you're looking
for the anti-Lloyd Carr ...
all you LSU fans worrying about the distractions with
the Michigan head coaching job opening up, let me help
you sleep well tonight.
Les Miles absolutely, positively will NOT be the next
head football coach at the University of Michigan.
We’re talking about IBM here. We’re talking about North
Carolina basketball. We’re talking about a football
program that’s the equivalent of a dish of vanilla ice
cream topped off with a vanilla wafer while being
cheered on by 111,941 fans about as boisterous as a
glass of warm milk. Miles would be a double dose of
rainbow sprinkles, and that's not Michigan football.
Michigan basketball changed the way the college game
looked and acted with the Fab Five, but again, that’s
not Michigan football. Miles speaks his mind in a fun,
harmless way and is never afraid to stir the pot a
little bit. While that might be what Michigan needs,
it’s not really what it wants. Unless Miles can prove he
can be a bit more button-down, like 1992 David Letterman
moving from late night to 11:30, he’ll be keeping his
Baton Rouge address.
I’m a Miles fan. He stepped into a nearly impossible
situation at LSU and took what Nick Saban did and made
it better. I don’t care if Saban left behind the New
England Patriots; if you’re 32-5 with (what will be) two
BCS appearances and two SEC Championship games in three
years, you’re doing just fine. However, it seems like he
should be doing more.
As good as LSU has been this season, should it have
needed a miracle late play to beat Auburn? Shouldn’t it
have blasted Kentucky? Do you really trust this team in
a huge road game under Miles after struggling so much
with Alabama, getting a fight from Ole Miss, and losing
two of the four road tests last year? With all the NFL
speed and athleticism, and all the experience, shouldn’t
this be an epic juggernaut of a team rather than the
default BCS No. 1?
It might sound harsh, but we might be talking about Dale
Brown here; a superior gatherer of talent who’d probably
get his coaching doors blown off by a Bobby Knight. Put
it this way; if Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban were
coaching this LSU team, and Miles was coaching this
year’s South Carolina or Alabama teams, what do you
think would happen? Would the games be as close as they
were? Remember, whoever takes over at Michigan will be
judged by what he does against Jim Tressel, who has
turned into the Florida version of Spurrier.
Raise your hand if you had heard of Tressel seven years
ago? Remember, at the time, Glen Mason was a main man in
the running for the Ohio State job before it went to a
(gasp) D-IAA coach, and don’t be shocked if Michigan
goes for a star-in-waiting who doesn’t have the big-time
name recognition. No, it’s not going to be Les Miles
wearing a Maize and Blue mock turtleneck, but it’ll be
someone else who's really, really good losing to the
Buckeyes every year while LSU is hanging out in the
The next time I
naively hop on the Clemson bandwagon, no matter how much talent the
school’s housing, don’t hold back in reminding me that the program is
never getting over the top under Tommy Bowden. Ever. After nine
seasons with Bowden on the sidelines, the Tigers are still waiting for
an ACC championship that’s eluded them since 1991. Oh, they’ve been
good over the last decade, twice winning nine games, but never quite
good enough when it matters most. Bowden’s teams have become known for
their patented inconsistency and inability to deliver sustained
excellence. Pulling the rug out from under fans and observers is now a
part of the Clemson playbook. In 2004 and 2005, the Tigers couldn’t
overcome three-game losing streaks, while last year, the school finished
1-4 after raising expectations with a 7-1 start. And then there’s this
fall, one more disappointment to add to the resume. Clemson came into
Saturday’s game with Boston College smoking hot. The Eagles were
reeling and hurting on defense. Death Valley at night. A sea of
orange. The Atlantic Division at stake. No way the Tigers lose this
game, right? Wrong. Two blown leads in the fourth quarter, and a
horribly blown coverage with 1:46 to go sealed their fate once again.
Clemson figures to be loaded next season with a ton of returning
starters on both sides of the ball. It could be the year that the
Tigers put it all together. It could be, but I refuse to make that
suggestion until the final vote is counted. I’ve seen the script when
Tommy Bowden is in the director’s chair, and it too often includes a
Yes, they're playing
You’re a die-hard college football fan, right? After
all, you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. Okay,
now name the two running backs that’ll hit the
2,000-yard mark this year.
What’s that? Yes, really, one FBS/D-I running back has
already gotten there, one is a mortal lock to do it this
week, and you’ve never heard of them. The ESPNers have
yet to acknowledge their presence, we haven’t done a
good enough job on CFN of pumping them up, and they’ve
managed to fly completely under the radar all season
They’re joining an exclusive club of Barry Sanders,
Marcus Allen, Troy Davis (twice), J.J. Arrington, LaDainian Tomlinson,
Mike Rozier, Larry Johnson, Ricky Williams, Byron
Hanspard, and Rashaan Salaam. That’s five Heisman
winners, four finalists, Hanspard, who finished
sixth, and Arrington, who wasn't close to getting any
Heisman love, yet you’ve probably never seen these two
stars of 2007 play, and they’re not going to come within
sniffing distance of the Heisman in a year when there
isn’t anyone other than Tim Tebow who’s making any claim
to the prize.
Tulane senior Matt Forte ran for 194 and five touchdowns
against Rice to get to 2,007 yards on the year with 22
touchdowns. A picture of consistency, he has rushed for
more than 200 yards in three games, more than 300 yards
in two games, and more than 100 yards in his last seven
outings. He wasn’t bad against LSU with 73 yards on 16
carries, but the Green Wave had to start throwing after
Ironically, Forte might have a hand in the second player
getting to 2,000 as he goes against East Carolina this
week. UCF will clinch the East with a win over UTEP, or
will get to play for the Conference USA title with a
Green Wave win over the Pirates, giving Knight junior
Kevin Smith an extra shot to hit two bills if he doesn’t
gain 55 yards against a Miner team that’s 100th
in the nation in run defense.
One of the league’s best backs over the last two
seasons, Smith has rushed for over 100 yards in every
game but one this year, the 64-12 loss to South Florida,
but he was great against the big teams he faced with 217
yards and two scores against NC State and 149 yards and
two scores against Texas.
So among the greats, you now have to include Forte and
Smith. Watch for the adulations to finally come over the
next few weeks, but it’ll be too late. You missed their
And on the topic of
great players flying under the radar ...
4. As the season grows to a close, postseason awards are due to
be handed out to many deserving candidates. But, as with any other
season, there are names you won’t hear that deserve some sort of
recognition. You’ll hear Tim Tebow’s name, what a few thousand times;
you won’t hear Matt Forte’s name once, a guy who just hit the 2,000 yard
rushing mark – one of only eleven guys who have hit that mark in college
football history. Here are some other names you may not hear this
December who have had strong seasons.
Tulsa quarterback Paul
Smith has thrown for 3,886 yards and 34 touchdowns with a game left to
play. No one has said a thing about Boise State quarterback Taylor
Tharp, who has thrown for 2,839 yards, 27 touchdowns and is seventh in
the nation in passing efficiency. LSU safety Craig Steltz has been
tremendous all season long and is tied for fourth in the nation with six
picks. Most people have seen the light on Texas Tech’s Michael
Crabtree, but how about senior receiver Danny Amendola who has 103
catches for 1,177 yards (not to mention conference mate Jordy Nelson
from Kansas State who has 107 receptions and 1,441 yards)? Wake
Forest’s Kenneth Moore played tailback in 2006 when every single Wake
running back was injured and this year has 78 receptions at receiver.
Missouri freshman Jeremy Maclin has 2,309 yards of total offense, but
we’ll be talking about him in the future, so he may not count on this
list. This list should be much longer, but it’s time people recognize a
few standouts, even if the award circuit won’t.
One unknown player, one huge play
5. Okay, college football
fans (and SEC fans in particular): we, the media, spill gobs of ink,
use forests worth of newsprint, spend hours gabbing on the
radio, and strain mightily to produce preseason publications with
all their attendant items--picks, rankings lists, player profiles,
and everything else you can think of.
Long story short, a lot of time and resources are devoted to the
coverage of this industry. You spend a lot of energy reading up on
college football, and your school (assuming it's in a BCS
conference) invests a great deal of capital in this enterprise as
Yet, after all the tumult and the shouting, the difference between a
great season and a mediocre one can often be found in one play
involving the unheralded actions of one young man who improbably
rises to the occasion.
SEC fans, as you greet the new week, do you know who Dennis Rogan
Don't look up the answer just yet. Think. Reflect. Rack your brain.
Okay, here's the revelation (if you immediately knew this answer,
you really care about college football): Dennis Rogan is a freshman
defensive back assigned to the Tennessee Volunteers' kickoff
coverage unit. It was Rogan who stood alone in the face of two
Vanderbilt blockers while Commodore return man D.J. Moore ran
downfield with the pigskin in the final minutes of Saturday's
intrastate rivalry game in Knoxville. Outnumbered and outweighed,
Rogan faced long odds in his attempt to prevent Moore from getting a
touchdown or, at the very least, reaching the UT 25 for a makeable
field goal. With Vandy down by a single point, Rogan was placed in
his own personal version of "Mission Impossible": fend off two
blockers to tackle an onward-rushing ballcarrier, or face the
prospect of another disappointing loss that would significantly
affect the trajectory of Tennessee's entire season.
While Vandy's two blockers slowed down and lost focus, Rogan
continued to play at full speed. He knifed through a gap and steered
the hesitant Moore to the sideline, shoving him out of bounds at the
Tennessee 42. Accounts of this play didn't make the standard-issue
game stories cranked out by the Associated Press. Even the
Knoxville News-Sentinel didn't mention the episode in its
initial report on the contest.
But at the end of the day, the main reason why Phil Fulmer isn't
getting buried in the press can be summed up in two words: Dennis
Rogan. The reason why Tennessee is still alive in the race for the
SEC East title and a spot in the prestigious SEC Championship Game
against LSU? Dennis Rogan. The reason why a football season still
matters in Knoxville? Dennis Rogan.
Sometimes, football analysis doesn't require hours of talk or large
sections of cyberspace. Sometimes, a season is defined by people
like Dennis Rogan. These quiet and obscure young men need to be
given the credit and praise they deserve.
At your own school, find the unsung heroes who toil for your
enjoyment on Saturdays. Be sure the Dennis Rogans on
your team receive due recognition and gratitude.