In my Monday Morning QB column, which I've since re-read, I now realize that one of my major references to the need for Miles/LSU to get into chip-shot FG range was a parenthetical reference. This might have given the impression that I didn't feel it was all that important.
To clarify, then, let me say this very simply: the biggest single issue of this debate/controversy (which was ignored and/or missed by virtually every mainstream media (ESPN) commentator) is that the foremost priority for LSU/Miles on that drive was to get into chip-shot FG range.
Once you accept that logical and undeniable premise, you can then begin to discuss this matter prudently and properly.
If you have a kicker who can't be relied on at 40 yards, you make sure he won't face a kick over 30 (with a 2-3 yard cushion). This means that it was essential for LSU to get to the Auburn 15 at minimum. You do this as soon as possible, then you can open up the playbook and go for the end zone without time constraints.
The debate between "go for the TD or settle for the FG?" is a false debate. The real debate is, "settle for the 40-yarder and take a shot at the end zone from there, or work the ball close and then worry about the TD?" If you had a stud kicker (Wisconsin would be an example of a team who does), Saturday night's final minute would have received some scrutiny, but I wouldn't have given it 1/6 of the attention I wound up devoting to this episode. I devoted as much scrutiny to this case as I did because of two things: 1) the national media simply sucked in terms of delivering worthwhile analysis to this story; 2) LSU's lack of a stud kicker made it painfully obvious that Miles severely erred by not getting his team inside the Auburn 15 (if not the 10), thereby risking a long FG from an unsteady kicker.
It was the inability to ensure a chip-shot FG if a touchdown-seeking pass failed that represented the true (and substantial) failing of Les Miles and the LSU staff. If this particular point of the debate didn't clearly emerge in my column, I apologize for not being clear enough. I had felt that in my next to last paragraph, I strongly emphasized this particular point.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
College Football News
Thanks Matt. Comments, anyone? I'll chime in later...gotta run for now.