Les Miles got a contract extension and raise from LSU on Wednesday. In the wake of an SEC championship in 2011 and a 10-2 regular-season in 2012, that LSU decided to reward Miles for a job well done is no surprise. But one can not ignore the timing, just one day after reports surfaced that Arkansas was prepared to offer Miles a five-year, $27 million contract to move one state to the north. It just wouldn't be Les Miles if there wasn't an oddball factor complicanting things.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva stated that the Arkansas report had nothing to do with Miles' extension although, to his credit, he also said that he knows the media won't believe him.
"It has been my plan all along to give (Miles) a raise, and that's what we're doing," Alleva said.
LSU won't win the SEC this season, but Alleva is most pleased with Miles' ability to keep the Tigers in contention year after year.
"It's not always about winning championships," he said. "It's about being in the hunt to win championships."
Miles, whose 85-20 record makes him the fifth-winningest coach in SEC history, said that he has spoken with Araknsas AD Jeff Long, but not to the extent that was reported. According to Miles, there conversations were preliminary and "fell short of major interests." Miles denied he was offered the five-year, $27 million deal. Miles said he talked with Long to recommend other candidates for the Razorbacks' vacant head coaching position. The two worked together at Michigan where Miles was an assistant coach and Long was an assistant athletics director.
Speaking of recommending other candidates, Miles was asked about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis' candidacy for the Tennessee head coaching job.
"John Chavis is a tremendous coach who has a good overview of what a successful program looks like," said Miles. "If Tennessee was looking for a quality candidate, John Chavis should be one."
After yet another wild Saturday of college football, which coaches stood above the rest and gave their teams the biggest advantage? Find out in our Week 12 FootballScoop Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week - Art Bries, Baylor: In his fifth season in Waco, Art Briles continues to transform the DNA of Baylor football. Briles' team earned its first victory over a No. 1-ranked team, and first sub-.500 team to beat a BCS No. 1, and did so by 28 points. Baylor controlled the game for all 60 minutes, scoring first, constructing a 28-7 lead and, when Kansas State pulled within 35-24, ripping off 21 straight points to put the game out of reach. Kansas State, which had imposed its will physically on 10 straight opponents, was dominated at the line of scrimmage as Baylor out-rushed the Wildcats 342-76. Phil Bennett's defense also forced Heisman Trophy front-runner Collin Klein off his game as he threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but needed 50 passes (and 23 incompletions) to get there, with a season-high three interceptions.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Michigan: The Wolverines didn't do anything spectacular in their 42-17 win over Iowa, but this award honors their methodical demolition of the Hawkeyes defense. The Wolverines' first six drives of the game went as follows: 12 plays, 70 yards, touchdown; seven plays, 79 yards, touchdown; eight plays, 85 yards, touchdown; seven plays, 87 yards, touchdown; 11 plays, 81 yards, touchdown; and six plays, 60 yards, touchdown. That's 452 yards on 51 plays (8.86 yards per play) of unrelenting execution from Al Borges' offense. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner got the start and completed 18-of-23 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and an interception while rushing nine times for 37 yards and three more scores. With regular starting quarterback Denard Robinson nursing a wrist injury, Michigan utilized him at running back (13 carries for a team-leading 98 yards) and wide receiver (two catches for 24 yards).
Defensive Staff of the Week - Stanford: Not since Chip Kelly's first game had Oregon been held to 14 points or less, a span of 50 games. In fact, the Ducks came in to Saturday night riding an NCAA-record streaks of 13 straight games of 40 points or more and 23 straight games of 30 points or more, but none of that mattered in Stanford 17-14 overtime win in Eugene. Over four quarters plus overtime, Stanford held Oregon under its 2012 first quarter scoring average. Derek Mason's defense forced Oregon to punt eight times, matching a season high and held the Ducks to a season-low 405 yards of total offense. Stanford committed three turnovers, but the Cardinal's defense limited Oregon to no points off those takeaways.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - LSU: Trailing 35-28 in the fourth quarter, a sputtering LSU offense faced a long field ahead of it until Odell Beckham returned an Ole Miss punt 89 yards for a game-tying touchdown. "Everyone had their block, everyone had their man and everyone covered their assignments," Beckham said following the return. Beckham's score completely swung momentum of the game as LSU would eventually win the game, 41-35. Drew Alleman nailed two-of-three field goal attempts and, despite another Les Miles coming up empty on another gamble, made all three of the extra points he actually attempted. Brad Wing boomed five punts for a 44.8-yard average with three pinned inside the 20, and the special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey's coverage units did not allow Ole Miss any significant returns.
Call of the Week - Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: It may not have resulted in a win, but Oklahoma had no answer for Holgorsen's decision to play wide receiver Tavon Austin at running back. Austin, who had carried the ball 14 times for 103 yards thus far this season, rushed 21 times for a school-record 344 yards and two touchdowns. Coupled with his four receptions for 82 yards and his eight kickoff returns for 146 yards, Austin's 572 all-purpose yards were school and Big 12 records and came just six yards shy of tying the NCAA record.
Les Miles led LSU to a 41-35 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, Miles opened his post-game press conference in a display of emotion that only Miles can pull off. Plenty of moments will surely be added to the Les Miles lexicon, but it's up to you to pick your favorite.
ESPN The Magazine went all in on coverage of November 3 LSU-Alabama game, giving readers (and viewers) and inside-out look at the LSU program.
Writer Wright Thomspon was embedded with Les Miles throughout the week of the game. His feature is quite a long one but worth your time.
My favorite Miles anecdote comes at the beginning with Thompson at Miles' home watching football on TV during LSU's bye week. A snippet:
As Bob Stoops rants at a ref on this rare free Saturday, Miles grins and says, "Give 'em hell, Bob!" Just before the kickoff of the Alabama game, he did frenzied circles in the kitchen, opening the freezer, drawers, looking through the pantry and bellowing in his Coach Voice: "I know there's candy around here somewhere. Where is the Halloween candy!?"
The majority of the piece focuses on just how much the Alabama game means to Miles, especially in light of January's National Championship, and how much big games like the one in question take out of Miles. A regularly cited figure throughout the feature, Alabama marked LSU's 11th game versus a top five foe since its 2007 national championship.
ESPN The Magazine also took viewers inside three three parts of the body of LSU football.
Now that Week 7 of the college football season has come and gone, which coaching staffs did a standout job of getting their teams ready to play? We highlight those stood out to us with our Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week: Gary Patterson, TCU
One week after suffering his first loss in nearly a full season and four days after announcing that his team will play the rest of the season without its starting quarterback, Gary Patterson's team submitted its most complete performance of 2012. That is what coaches look for when they talk about responding to sudden change. After his first full week of working with co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rusty Burns as a starting quarterback, Trevone Boykin completed 22-of-30 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Dick Bumpas' defense forced Baylor into six turnovers while holding the Bears to its season low in total yardage and less than 40 percent of its scoring average. Patterson's team broke the game open with a 21-0 fourth quarter and posted 509 yards of total offense, its most versus FBS competition in 2012. Gary Patterson's team is now 22-6 following a loss in his tenure and has amazingly won 14 straight conference road games.
Offensive Staff of the Week: Oregon State
Credit the work of Mike Riley, Danny Langsdorf and staff, because no one would have ever known Beavers quarterback Cody Vaz was starting his first college game on Saturday. Taking his first snaps since 2005, the Oregon State quarterback connected on 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Langsdorf's offense also ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns, nearly doubling the the total allowed by BYU's third-ranked rush defense (2.23 yards per carry allowed). Oregon State's 42 points were by far the most scored on a BYU defense that entered Saturday with just 49 points allowed for the entire season. Seamlessly replacing the nation's sixth-most productive passer allowed Oregon State to move to 5-0 for the first time since 1939.
Defensive Staff of the Week: Texas Tech
How's this for perspective of just how dominant the Texas Tech defense was versus West Virginia - coming into Saturday, the Mountaineers' offense had scored 14 or more points in 13 separate quarters this season (that's 65 percent on the year), including seven of eight quarters in Big 12 play. It took West Virginia over 57 minutes to reach that number in Lubbock. Despite not posting any turnovers or sacks, the Red Raiders defense got off the field by holding West Virginia to 9-of-21 on third down and 2-of-7 on fourth down. Art Kaufman and co. held Heisman Trophy favorite Geno Smith to nearly half of his season averages - 52.7 percent completion rate (down from 81.4 percent), 275 passing yards on five yards per attempt (down from 399 yards and nearly 10 yards per attempt) and one touchdown (two below his season average). Texas Tech also held the West Virginia ground game, which so befuddled Texas a week prior, to 133 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. With 50 percent of the schedule behind them, Art Kaufman's crew has halved their 2011 averages (486 yards per game in 2011, 243 in 2012; 6.45 yards per play in 2011, 3.89 in 2012) while jumping 110 spots in the in total defense. A group that finished last season No. 114 in the country currently stands at No. 4.
Special Teams Unit of the Week: Iowa
Kirk Ferentz's team hardly ever does anything spectacular, instead winning with balance, execution and efficiency. Iowa's special teams were exactly that Saturday in the Hawkeyes' 19-16 win over Michigan State in double overtime. Kicker Mike Meyer nailed all four of his field goal tries, including the game-winner from 42 yards in double overtime. Iowa punted eight times, allowing only two returns - one for a yard and another for minus-2 yards. Under the direction of special teams coordinator Lester Erb, Iowa held the Spartans to an average of 17 yards on four kickoff returns while taking their lone kick return 45 yards. In fact, Jordan Cotton's 45-yard kick return in the second quarter sparked the drive that got Ferentz's team on the scoreboard after trailing 10-0.
Call of the Week: Les Miles, Greg Studrawa and Frank Wilson, LSU
With a stable of running backs that boasts Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Spencer Ware, you wouldn't think LSU would have to call on his No. 5 tailback, true freshman Jeremy Hill to pull him out of a tight spot Saturday night in Death Valley. But Hill, who entered the South Carolina game with 13 carries on the season, provided the spark that the Miles' team needed with 17 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-21 win over South Carolina. Credit for this move also must go to offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa and running backs coach Frank Wilson - first for getting such running back depth on the roster, and also for keeping all that depth ready to play. "I think that's something the coaches preach," Hill said after the game. "They do a good job of keeping everyone patient. This team has a lot of depth. They recruit well every year. Once you come here, you know you're going to have to wait your turn to play. Once you get that opportunity, you've got to take advantage of it and run with it."