Les Miles: “It must have been the shoes”; SEC teams in the CWS

In College Baseball, College Football on June 22, 2011 at 5:39 PM

I’ll get to the shoes, but before that even came up again, I was planning to write about Les’ coverage by the Oklahoma St. media. After last season, I wrote this blog about Les Miles’ tenure at LSU so far as compared to previous coaches. I didn’t write anything about that other school where he was the head coach. (By the way, let me know if my links are not to your liking. I know some people like to know where they’re going before clicking on a link.)

I found this tribute by “News OK”/The Oklahoman interesting. Check out the video and the article.

Miles “only” went 2-2 against “Bedlam” rivals Oklahoma, including a 52-9 loss, but a few notes about that series that the Oklahoma St. media didn’t care to remind people about (and I don’t blame them). The Cowboys have only beaten the Sooners 16 times in 97 games. Only 7 of those Oklahoma teams had winning records (1917, 1930, 1944, 1966, 1976, 2001, and 2002), so the only two of those instances in the last 34 years were under Miles. 1976 was the only other time Oklahoma had what I would call an impressive record (9-2-1). The best Oklahoma record in the other seasons was 6-3-1. The Oklahoma teams that the Cowboys beat under Miles were 11-2 and 12-2, respectively. You would never hear Les call this a success, I’m sure, but the Cowboys only lost to the Sooners by three points in 2004, a year Oklahoma would finish 12-1 (the only loss being in the national championship game). The Sooners have won every game against the Cowboys since, and 4 of the 6 games were by 20 points or more.

I don’t understand what he did in leaving to upset the Oklahoma St. fans, but maybe some of the resentment is because they miss him a little, at least during one game a year. Despite the one blowout, there had to be a better feeling going into Bedlam then than there is now or than there has been any time in memory. He told people goodbye? That seems like a nice thing to me. Maybe someone could explain to me what he did. It’s not like he pulled a Saban and started coaching another Big XII South team (the only ones comparable to Alabama would be Oklahoma or maybe Texas) a couple of years later.

Mike Gundy had his tirade (“I’m a man, I’m 40”), but I prefer a guy being funny because he doesn’t take himself too seriously rather than because he’s prone to drama. It might have even been somewhat calculated too. He had to show he was just as committed-to-the-point-of-insanity (or at least a high level of eccentricity) to his program and his players to replace Miles in people’s eyes.

The three consecutive winning seasons in Les’s last three years were the first such string since Barry Sanders and the 1988 campaign.

But I’m not sure a coach has to have a pulse to win a majority of his games with a running back who averages 7.6 yards per carry and over 200 yards per game. There was only one winning record (1997) between Sanders’ time as running back ended and Miles’ tenure as head coach began.

Something else that’s interesting is I didn’t know who Les was back then, but I knew his team, and I knew they were going to fight hard no matter the opponent. I don’t know if he really aspired to be in the spotlight to the extent he is right now, but he seems to be embracing it as a way to promote his team and the school as a whole.

Les Miles had a bit of a media blitz yesterday at ESPN. But there has been some interesting banter between Les and Scott Van Pelt as a background to this, so I’ll show it all in order.

This radio spot began the whole thing during the week after the Florida game last year:

Then came a later addition to the Scott Van Pelt Show, this one with video (I couldn’t find it on YouTube, so I can’t embed it) after Van Pelt received a special delivery from Les:

This is another interview with Van Pelt after the Cotton Bowl and the Michigan speculation where Les bargains for a return gift (which where this is headed):

And that led to this amusing video that Les shot with two of his children:

Les’ style and grace just speak for themselves.

Then, these are just highlights of his meanderings around ESPN. Jordan Jefferson (via recording) got into the shoe discussion with Les as well: (linked to immediately above)

I also liked how Les talked about how he tries to keep players out of trouble with boosters and the like. He can be a loose cannon at times, but given that, it’s incredible how he avoids singling out people for criticism. That was also mentioned in the “News OK”/The Oklahoman link.

College Baseball

They also talked about how insane the SEC is in football. A little bit of a change in topic (Les Miles is apparently a baseball fan though), but the SEC is not so bad in baseball either. The only losses by any SEC team in the Super Regionals or College World Series (CWS) going into today were to other SEC teams (Florida to Mississippi St. once, Mississippi St. to Florida twice, and Vanderbilt to Florida). Vanderbilt leads North Carolina, 5-1, going into the 9th inning (UPDATE: now final). Only two other conferences had two CWS teams (Texas and Texas A&M of the Big XII, and Virginia and North Carolina of the ACC), and the SEC has three. The Aggies and Longhorns were were both swept out of the CWS, with one loss each to an SEC team. The ‘Hoos (loss to South Carolina) and the Heels (loss to Vanderbilt…twice now) were both 1-1 going into today. The Pac-10, like the SEC, had four teams in the Super Regionals, but only one (the Cal Bears) made the CWS. Cal is 1-1, with a loss to Virginia and a win over Texas A&M.

Admittedly, the SEC did suffer some losses to other conferences in the regionals, but the three SEC teams who were seeded first in their regionals (the same who are in the CWS) all made it through without a loss, as did Mississippi St., who was actually seeded third in its regional.

Unlike in the BCS, an SEC team has only won the last two College World Series (LSU in 2009 and South Carolina last year), but if things keep going as they are, a third seems in reach. It’s very possible that the potentially three-game championship round will be played between two SEC teams.


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