Amazing how quickly fan opinion can pull a complete 180. A month ago Les Miles was God, Bo Pelini as the Guy Behind the Guy was God too, and perhaps even as much as the complete enabler of the former's being God.
However, when championships are waiting to be won and statements are waiting to be made, Friday afternoon's Arkansas ambush made one thing perfectly and overwhelmingly clear forever and ever: Les Miles can't strategize his way out of a paper bag. He's a fine human being--which should count for more in the long run than one's performance when wearing the headsets on the sideline--but for the record, this loss to Houston Nutt's Hogs proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Les Miles is certifiably loony as a play caller, clock manager, and timeout juggler. In those three aspects of coaching (not the job description as a whole), Miles is a flunkie. Period
On the plus side, Zemek leaves open the possibility that Les could strategize himself out of a WET paper bag. That's a little less challenging than the regular paper bag. But yeah, I've got little argument. Some nitpicks on the article overall, but nothing major. (For instance, given Colt David's jitters against Florida, I don't really think all those fourth down calls were as much gambles as often pure necessity.)
And of the Auburn game, he states:
Aww shucks. If you Venn Diagrammed the implications of that sentence, we'd be among the folks on the outside of the sane brain cells camp. While I'll concede the overarching point that Zemek made in his clarification to the post-Auburn game article (linked above), I wasn't torn up about our last play call against Auburn leaving David with a 39 yard field goal if it failed.
And on the timeouts at the end of the Arkansas game, I'd take the opposite point: Les should have run the playclock down much further before calling those timeouts. And those were necessary. That WAS the ballgame, how could anyone possibly expect us to hold Arkansas to a 3 and out and get the ball back if we failed there? And the OT timeout on defense was a great call. Marcus Monk in the game with a huge mismatch, we had to call that TO to prevent a nearly sure TD. Of course, we gave it up anyway, but at least we diagnosed one problem and addressed it as we could.
Overall though, I really have nothing. We could downplay a lot of the signs while we were still legitimately in the national title hunt (Luck? Ridiculous play calls? Tell it to Jim Tressel and the 2002 National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. 4th down at midfield with the season on the line against Purdue? Screw it, let's go for broke and throw it 50 yards to the endzone. Ahh, touchdown!). But there's simply no excuse for what we saw Friday. We can complain to high hell about how weak the 4th and 10 "no blitz" call was in the 2nd OT, and I'm certainly in the consensus that's furious about that idiocy, but to be honest, the way we'd been playing of late we'd have either had a nasty wake up call next week against Tennessee or in the national title game on a much grander scale. Despite the dearth of quality football teams this year, a number of teams out there would embarrass us if we put up anything remotely resembling the string of flat first halves we've displayed in the past two months.
On the whole, we're at two losses yet again and after three years under Miles, we will not have competed for a single national title despite what's generally been accepted as one of the Top 3 most talented teams in the country in that span (USC and Florida the others). I've defended Miles frequently on this site over the past year and change, but I've got nothing now.
As Zemek takes great pains to point out, Les is good at a lot of things that are required of a head coach. But he's got some clear flaws that look to prevent him from ever becoming a great one. If he can't deliver a national title with this bunch, by God, what's it take??
For your own enjoyment, TigerDroppings.com has created a separate Coaching Changes Board, replete with faithful Tiger fans who know how to track Baton Rouge booster flights. Separately, they've got up a list of specific potential hires for LSU should Les leave. Clearly much of that is just brain dump (i.e. Saban, Chizik), but worth perusing nonetheless. If Les does in fact get offered that Michigan job and accepts, odds are high the new coach would come from that list.
Of course, the rumor lately is that UM is all over Kirk Ferentz for the position.