What the Deuce: What the Deuce Says Think Rationally

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What the Deuce Says Think Rationally

All the speculation of Les Miles having to coach LSU in the National Championship Game while fending off questions about the Michigan job is now moot. No two loss team has ever played for the National Championship and it's highly unlikely that one will this year. Although Bill Martin can now call Miles after the SEC Championship game next Saturday, should he?

The anti-Miles crowd had plenty of evidence in its favor after yesterday: Miles' giving the Razorbacks bulletin board material after mispronouncing "Arkansas," his questionable clock management at the end of regulation, and his failure to recognize an unfavorable defensive alignment in overtime. The missteps, combined with the perception that LSU has underachieved this year, were reason enough to pass on Miles. Even Ivan Maisel thought so.

Whatever happened yesterday should not change anything. It's been reported that Miles is top candidate for the Michigan job, and if he isn't, he should be. While I can't comment to the former, I agree with the latter.
Yesterday wasn't Miles' finest moment, but it wasn't so egregious at the eliminate him from being a candidate.

I read the message board over at MGoBlog after the game and I came away with the feeling that people are looking for a candidate that just doesn't exist - the perfect one who doesn't make mistakes. At some point, whoever comes to Michigan is going to make a bad playcall, burn a timeout unnecessarily, and lose games. The key is whether Michigan's next head coach makes those same mistakes over and over.

The fans' confirmation hearing of Miles has turned into a which-conference-is-best debate. Evidence used in favor of Miles can be used against him. The close wins against Alabama and Florida show that Miles is not conservative and aggressive. On the other hand, these games show that LSU has wasted its talent and has underpeformed - thus, Miles is Lloyd Carr all over again. People need to realize that the truth is probably somewhere in between and, like I've said before, no matter who comes to Ann Arbor, Michigan isn't going to win every game.

While I don't think Michigan should be married to Miles or hand him the job because of his Michigan ties, I do think the anti-Miles crowd is being overly critical. Simply, out of all the other coaches people want Martin to consider, none is flawless. I'll even go out on a limb and say that none is head and shoulders better than Miles:

"Uncle Pete" Carroll: Although he's won 2 National Championships and regularly pulls in top recruiting classes, he isn't without flaws with the most obvious being the Reggie Bush situation. Carroll, from what I've been told by a friend who loves SC, isn't the greatest at strategery. It's been said that USC isn't the force it used to be after losing Ed Orgeron, Norm Chow, and Lane Kiffin. Thus, it appears that Carroll relies heavily on his coordinators and assistants, just like Miles is perceived to do. You can't knock Miles for this while not recognizing that Carroll does the same. Also, let's not forget that SC was criticized for sleepwalking through games and playing only when it had to as it went for its third consecutive National Championship. Finally, based on these comments by Chow, Carroll could be difficult to work with.

Bob Stoops: Also has a National Championship to his credit but has also had problems with players getting into trouble off the field. Has had, considerably, three average years after losing to SC in the National Championship game. Lost to Texas Tech and Colorado this year.

Greg Schiano: Although he is a defensive minded coach (he's also the defensive coordinator) who turned around a terrible Rutgers program, his coaching leaves something to be desired. I went to the Rutgers-West Virginia game this year and saw a vanilla offense.
Didn't like Schiano's decision to stick with Mike Teel even though Teel's injury prevented him from throwing downfield. Also didn't like the predictability of the offense - when Rutger's backup quarterback, Lovelace, came in, it was an obvious run. Even with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, Schiano opted to go with Teel instead of giving Lovelace an opportunity to get game experience with the entire offensive playbook. Sound familiar?

Jeff Tedford: Brought Cal football back to prominence. Can be argued that his teams have consistently underperformed ranging from getting worked over by Texas in the 2004 Holiday Bowl to losing to Oregon State at home this year. Has only two ten win seasons. Also, there is a perception that Tedford's teams are defensively deficient and finesse.

Brian Kelly: Had tremendous success at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan (although it was with Mike DeBord's players...DeBord has to get some credit for recruiting guys that someone else would coach up, right?). Because he's only coached in the MAC and Big East, his detractors point to lack of big game experience. Also, there were the racially insensitive comments about the murder at CMU.

Chris Petersen: I really don't know much about Petersen, so I looked at his bio. Argument can be made that he's relatively green, like Kelly. Also, his success, minus the Oklahoma game, has come in the WAC.

I could keep the list going, but I think the point is made - every possible candidate has a question mark, or worse, a cause for concern. Simply, an argument against a specific candidate can be made very easily and that brings me back to my original point - the perfect candidate does not exist. Unless someone has mystic powers like Parvati, the option of sculpting a coach from dirt and bringing him to life is not an option. If we, as a fan base, keep focusing on the negatives, we're never going to agree on a coach (thank God this isn't a popularity contest with everyone getting a vote). Instead, it's important, in my opinion, to focus on the positives of each candidate and when that's done, Miles is my choice.

This is a guy who wants to be at Michigan and loves the school like he loves his family. He's coached in Ann Arbor and has ties to the Midwest. He's had success at Oklahoma State and LSU. He's coached in the NFL. He's wise enough to see his weakness and hire coaches who minimize them. He's an aggressive playcaller. He cares about his players.

I think we can all agree that we want someone in the mold of Lloyd Carr, at least, off the field. Miles is that guy. I think we can all agree that we want someone not in the mold of Lloyd Carr, at least, on gamedays. Miles is that guy.


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