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.
Armen Keteyian will provide a report for "60 Minutes" on Sunday night on how a healthy football program benefits its universty as a whole. As CBS says, "Large-scale football programs have become critical tools in a race to raise revenues, bolster images and ultimately, win championships that will attract more students and better players to universities."
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.
Plenty of coaches across the nation did outstanding jobs in preparing their teams to play, but the group below shined above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week for Week 10 of the college football season.
Head Coach of the Week - Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana - Lafayette: Hudspeth's team became the first squad outside the Big 12 and SEC to defeat ULM with a 40-24 win on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak to their intrastate rivals. The 24 points was a season-low for the Warhawks, while the Ragin' Cajuns became the first Sun Belt team to drop 40 points on ULM in regulation since 2009. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was an efficient 23-of-32 for 373 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, while Hudsepth's team controlled the line of scrimmage by out-rushing ULM 234-74. The win moved ULL one victory away from a second straight bowl berth and just one game back of first place in the Sun Belt.
Offensive Staff of the Week - LSU: Credit must be given to Oregon for putting up school records (and USC opponent records) with 62 points and 730 yards, but this week we recognize the work of Greg Studrawa and LSU's offensive coaches. The Tigers offense outperformed even the loftiest expectations against college football's top total, scoring, passing and pass efficiency defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game as a collegian, connecting on 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill became just the fifth opponent in Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama to run for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide (29 carries, 107 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers moved the ball consistently on Alabama by refusing to leave the field. They were successful on 10-of-20 third downs and ran 85 plays, which adds up to 39:15 time of possession, allowing the Tigers to penetrate for two touchdowns and three field goal attempts.
The last team to put up 435 or more yards of offense against Alabama? That would be LSU -- in 2007.
Defensive Staff of the Week - UCLA: One week after slicing and dicing the USC defense to the tune of 588 yards and 39 points, the Arizona offense compiled just 257 yards and 10 points in a 66-10 shellacking by UCLA. The Bruins held the Pac-12's leading passer Matt Scott to a season-low 124 yards on 15-of-25 attempts. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' unit limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down, a season-worst 18 first downs, recovered three fumbles and forced seven punts. It did not surrender a touchdown until midway through the third quarter with the Bruins nursing a 42-point lead. The UCLA coaching staff decided to wear war paint on the sidelines and if Saturday's results are any indication, Bruins football just got itself a new tradition.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - San Diego State: Special teams keyed a historic win for San DIego State on Saturday night, 21-19 over Boise State. In defeating Boise State 21-19 on Saturday night, the Aztecs earned the program's first win over an AP top 20 team away from home. Colin Lockett opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That play stood as San Diego State's only offense until Dwayne Garrett blocked a punt in Broncos territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, San Diego State had its second touchdown of the day and a lead it would not relinquish.
Call of the Week - Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati: A few weeks ago in this space we promised that any time a coach goes for two and the win late in a game would receive automatic Call of the Week honors, so respect must be given to Gary Patterson and TCU for doing just that in their 39-38 win in double overtime at West Virginia. But this award goes to head coach Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian for doing what no staff has done - calling a jump pass in the middle of the field. Jump passes entered national consciousness with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006, and we've even seen some running backs execute the play in recent years but the play had exclusively been used as a goal line tactic until Saturday. Trailing Syracuse 10-7 and facing a 4th and 2, Cincinnati opened the second quarter with a simple hand off to tailback George Winn. As Winn approached the line of scrimmage he sprung in the air and found Travis Kelce all alone behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown. Cincinnati would go on to defeat Syracuse, 35-24.
With another full slate of games ahead of us tomorrow, here's what we'll be keeping an extra close eye on throughout the day.
LSU at Texas A&M (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is an opportunity for a statement game for Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense (tied for sixth nationally in total offense, 7.09 yards per play) faces John Chavis' second-ranked LSU defense. If Texas A&M pulls out the win, it will be because quarterback Johnny Manziel (24 touchdowns through six games) found a way to solve an LSU defense that has surrendered just 13 scores this season. These programs have met 50 times previously, although Saturday will be the first meeting in College Station since 1995. Texas A&M wants to re-kindle this rivalry, but the only way to to do that is with a win.
Rutgers at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network): Raise your hand if you knew this was a battle for the top spot in the Big East standings. Steve Addazio has led Temple to a 2-0 start in the Owls' return to the Big East despite ranking last in the league in total offense and total defense. Addazio's team relies heavily on the run (2.1:1 rush-pass ratio), while Rutgers ranks second nationally in rush defense at 60.8 yards per game and 2.25 yards per carry allowed. Both of these teams' success lies in forcing turnovers (Rutgers leads in the nation in turnover margin, Temple is No. 12), so whoever can carve out an advantage in that area will likely win the game.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (12 p.m. ET, FX): A year removed from winning the Big 12 championship, Mike Gundy's team is still trying to sort out exactly what it is. The Cowboys lead the country in total offense by a wide margin, nearly 34 yards per game over No. 2 Baylor. But their most impressive win to date is over Louisiana - Lafayette, and they come into Saturday off a 20-14 win over 1-5 Kansas in which the Jayhawks outgained OSU 398-371. Paul Rhoads' team will try to make this game close and low-scoring. Iowa State is 19-1 in Rhoads' tenure when holding teams under 24 points, and 3-21 when giving up 24 points or more. Iowa State is also 10-6 under Rhoads in games decided by a touchdown or less.
South Carolina at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mark Richt and co. will be rooting hard for the Gators, as a Florida win essentially sets up a winner-take-all matchup for the control of the SEC East at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. Meanwhile, a South Carolina win means Steve Spurrier's team will just have to get by Tennessee and Arkansas to clinch a trip to Atlanta for the second time in three years. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series while limiting the Gators to just 26 combined points.
BYU at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This game will likely play out like seemingly every Notre Dame game this season - gritty, close and low scoring. Both of these squads rank among the nation's top seven nationally in scoring defense, allowing just over 22 points per game combined. Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to put a peacock-sized feather in his team's cap as a win would put the Cougars in a great position to finish 2012 at 9-3 and a top 25 ranking. On the other sideline, all that's on the line for Notre Dame is keeping intact its first 7-0 start since 2002 with a primetime showdown at Oklahoma on the immediate horizon.
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Bo Pelini's struggling defense faces perhaps the most diverse attack in the Big Ten. Any hopes either team has of playing for the Big Ten title likely dies with a loss on Saturday. Expect Nebraska and its Big Ten-leading scoring offense to try to outscore Northwestern, while the Wildcats will attempt to exploit the Cornhuskers' penchant for turning over the football (No. 104 nationally in turnover margin. Oh, and there's this:
The last time Nebraska played Northwestern in Evanston, Al Capone was there for the game ... bit.ly/VjnCjI
Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET, FOX): Bill Snyder's tough-as-nails bunch travels to face West Virginia in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium. The last time Dana Holgorsen's team played at home it lit up Baylor for 10 touchdowns. A Kansas State victory puts the Wildcats firmly ahead of the pack in the Big 12, while a loss for West Virginia ends the conference and national title aspirations that seemed so promising just one week ago. West Virginia's highly publicized offense is more productive of the two but Kansas State's is actually more efficienct, churning out 0.65 points per play to WVU's 0.58 points per play.
Florida State at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Consider this a referendum for two young coaching tenures. Both teams need wins to stay in the hunt for the ACC Championship but, most importantly, both teams need a win over each other. Al Golden is looking for his first victory over FSU, while a loss by the Seminoles means nothing short toppling Florida can make this season a success. Jimbo Fisher's team dominates the ACC statistically, leading the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. They also place second in the ACC in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech, but possess the conference's best yards per carry average (6.28).
Baylor at Texas (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Texas returns home reeling after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. Mack Brown's teams traditionally play their best football following Oklahoma, going 13-1 immediately after the Red River Rivalry. Baylor carries in a two-game losing streak of its own, surrendering a total of 17 touchdowns in losses to West Virginia and TCU. Baylor leads the nation in passing offense with nearly 400 yards per game faces a Texas defense that has allowed Big 12 quarterbacks to go 65-of-101 for 903 yards with eight touchdowns against two interceptions. The numbers aren't much better for Texas' rush defense as opposing Big 12 offenses have carried 133 times for 810 yards (6.1 ypc) for 10 scores. Solace for Texas comes in the fact that Baylor brings in a defense ranked among the bottom four nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Expect an old-fashion Big 12 shootout that lasts deep into the night.
Washington at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks): After a 3-0 start Rich Rodriguez is still searching for his first Pac-12 win. Washington is also looking for its first victory since the upset of Stanford on Sept. 27. Scott from our staff will be on hand in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @FootballScoop for his observations of the game.
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."
If history is any indicator, as long as LSU scores a defensive touchdown on Saturday against South Carolina they'll end the game as winners. We know...easier said than done.
Last week we noted that 100 yards rushing was the magic number under Les Miles, where the Tigers are 47-0 when rushing for over 100 yards and holding opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. In their loss to Florida last weekend, they ran for just 42 yards, and allowed 176 yards rushing. So while that streak may still be alive, it's not exactly the way that they'd want to keep it intact.
This morning we noticed that LSU is 8-0 under defensive coordinator John Chavis when scoring a defensive touchdown. The Tigers are 12-1 under Les Miles in that same category dating back to 2005. Add to that the fact that LSU has won 23 straight games when winning the turnover battle (a streak that dates back to 2008) and you've got to feel pretty confident when the Tigers score or win the turnover battle.
So far this season, South Carolina has lost 8 fumbles and thrown 2 interceptions.
In the overall series, LSU holds an impressive 16-2-1 edge over South Carolina (with the Gamecocks last win back in 1994, an 18-17 win) , but Steve Spurrier is 11-3 (and 5-2 in Baton Rouge) all time against the Tigers. His offenses have averaged 32 points per contest, while his defenses have given up just over 14 points per game against the Tigers.
The Gamecocks are riding a 10 game winning streak coming into Saturday's game, dating back to last season. That streak is the longest in the nation, with Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia just behind them with 9 consectutive wins.
With kickoff scheduled for 8pm ET, the Gamecocks win streak is on line. Les Miles is 57-5 in night games, including an impressive 35-2 mark in Tiger Stadium.