Grass is greener for Les Miles, LSU
Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (grief counseling available in the once-great football state of Texas , where the state's franchise teams -- the Longhorns and Cowboys -- have combined to ruin autumn):
Les Miles: Herbivore lore
And on the tenth Saturday of the bizarre 2010 college football season, at a particularly crucial juncture of a particularly crucial game against the defending national champions, Les Miles (2) ate grass.
The Dash hereby submits to The Hat's endless eccentricity. The LSU coach is too odd to understand, too unconventional to defeat, too unpredictable to take your eyes off of.
The Hat is hijacking this entire season. From the preseason hot seat to the flukish victories over North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida to the slightly madcap upset of Alabama, Miles is threatening to overshadow Oregon's Blur Offense (3) and Auburn's Cameron Newton (4) and TCU's merciless defense (5) and Boise State's serially disrespected Bus (6). He's beaten Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, and he's improved to 5-5 at LSU against two guys who are considered the best in the profession.
It's his autumn. The Hat's off-kilter reality show, stilted dialogue included. We're all just transfixed (and occasionally perplexed) spectators.
Regular readers know that The Dash suspected Satan was behind it all. But maybe Miles' Earth Mother philosophy is the unseen force at work here. You are what you eat -- and if you eat a football field, well, maybe you are football personified.
"I have a little tradition that humbles me as a man, that lets me know that I'm a part of the field and part of the game," Miles said Saturday, as only he could, when asked about being caught on camera ingesting a blade of grass during the Alabama game. "You should have seen some games before this. I can tell you one thing: The grass in Tiger Stadium tastes best."
Tiger Stadium rocked to its roots Saturday when LSU beat Bama. The signature Les play call came on a fourth-and-1 from the Alabama 26 with less than 10 minutes to play, the Tigers trailing 14-13. Miles did not bring on kicker Josh Jasper, though a field goal was well within his range. He did not slam 223-pound Stevan Ridley into the line to pick up the yard. No, he ran a reverse to a tight end, Deangelo Peterson, who to that point had exactly zero rushing attempts in his college career.
While Woody and Bo were spinning in their graves, Peterson was galloping to the Alabama 3 to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
And when LSU prepared to follow that score with a two-point conversion play, Miles went grazing.
To celebrate and spoof the "Les Eats Grass" storyline, LSU had a bowl of Tiger Stadium clippings set out for Coach Bovine's Monday media luncheon. Miles even carried it around the room, offering some to reporters.
Which is one thing you have to love about Les: He's taken an awful lot of ribbing this season for violations of Coaching Wisdom 101, plenty of them right here in this space. But there is no sign that he's held the criticism against anyone. If he knows about the shots he's taken, he doesn't care.
Just eat the grass and do your thing, Les. And by the way, Dashette Daria Werbowy (7) digs your hat.
Inspired by Miles, The Dash devised some recommended sideline snacks for other folks in college football:
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley (8): German potato pancakes.
Freshly fired Colorado coach Dan Hawkins (9): a bland diet. Just to make sure nothing is going to come back on you in the fourth quarter.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly (10): Fast food. Really fast food.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik (11): Whatever Gus Malzahn recommends.
Alabama's Nick Saban (12), Florida's Urban Meyer (13) and Texas' Mack Brown (14) can share a humble pie.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno (15): Soft foods.
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward (16), who said Saturday on the radio that Oregon's academic institution has become "an embarrassment" and then offered a half-hearted apology Monday: a large cup of shut-up.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops (17): Something home-cooked. Because when he goes out and leaves the neighborhood, something bad usually happens.
TCU coach Gary Patterson (18), whose only loss in the past 25 games was to Boise State: Anything but Idaho potatoes.
ACC (19) and Big East (20) coaches: All-you-can-eat mediocrity.
Speaking of mediocre How 'bout that Big 12?
National title contenders? Not in that league, which put a team in the BCS National Championship Game each of the past two years.
Oklahoma State (21) is a nice story at 8-1 after losing a ton of talent from the 2009 team. But that's about it for pleasant surprises at this point.
Oklahoma lost for the fourth time in its past five conference road games. Nebraska won by a point in overtime at Iowa State -- the same place where the Cyclones lost by 41 to Utah. Baylor came back to earth. Missouri has taken the shine off with two straight defeats. And then there is what befell Texas and Colorado on Saturday.
Start with the freak show in Lawrence, an inexplicable 52-45 loss for the Buffaloes.
If you're Kansas (22), here's how you pulled it off after trailing 45-17 with 14:52 left:
You score. You onside kick and recover. You score again. Just like that, you've cut the deficit in half in a little more than five minutes without giving up the ball.
Then you scoop and score on a Colorado fumble. It's only halfway through the quarter and your deficit has been cut from 28 to seven. You've got a chance.
Next you intercept a pass at the Colorado 37 and score again five plays later. You've climbed out of a 28-point hole in 10:22. You've got this thing. All you need is for Colorado to complete the collapse.
The Buffaloes comply by going three-and-out and producing a short punt. Five easy plays later, behind a quarterback who began the season buried on the depth chart and didn't see game action until Oct. 23, you score the winning touchdown. Thirty-five points in 14 minutes.
But wait. You've come back so fast that there's actually still time left for Colorado to make one final drive.
And the Buffs do. All the way to the Kansas 7-yard line. But two final throws go incomplete, and the Jayhawks have done the ridiculous.
If you're first-year Jayhawks coach Turner Gill (23) and your team has largely stunk this season, you can pair this with the September upset of Georgia Tech as building blocks for the future.
If you're Colorado (24), welcome to rock bottom. You fail to field an onside kick (though that was a controversial call that went against the Buffs), turn the ball over twice and allow the nation's No. 96 offense to pile up 225 yards -- all in a single quarter. You pretty well give up running the ball while trying to hold a fourth-quarter lead. You blow a four-touchdown advantage to a rotten team in a dead stadium.
And now the Dan Hawkins Era (25) has come to a premature and toxic end. He was fired Monday with three games left in the season, leaving son Cody, the team's only healthy scholarship quarterback, to play out the bittersweet string for an interim coach. Hawkins was always a Dash favorite. Tough to see it come to this.
Meanwhile, at Texas, the play calling is also a source of outrage after the Longhorns' laydown at Kansas State.
Entering the game, the Wildcats were last in the nation in rushing defense. So Texas threw it 59 times and ran it 26. Granted, being behind 39-0 rather limits the scope of the playbook, but even before that game spiraled out of control the Horns seemed to be playing to K-State's relative strength as opposed to its glaring weakness.
Along the way, sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert melted down. At one point he threw interceptions on three successive passes and ended four successive Texas drives with a pick. His confidence has to be shot.
And Mack Brown's considerable administrative cachet and staff loyalty will be put to the test when it comes to defending offensive coordinator Greg Davis after this nightmare season.
Ban preseason pollsIf ever there were a year that provided ammunition for doing away with the preseason Top 25, this would be it. Because it's hard to imagine getting it too much more wrong than the voters did this season. A look at the USA Today top 10 and where they are now:
Alabama (26). Was the prohibitive No. 1 pick. Now: 7-2 and ranked No. 12. You can almost hear the communal Crimson Tide nervous breakdown -- wait, actually you can hear it by tuning into the tragicomedy that is the Paul Finebaum Show.
Ohio State (27). Was No. 2. Now: 8-1 and ranked seventh, but possesses no victories over teams currently in the Top 25. Hard to understand how the Buckeyes are ranked two spots ahead of Stanford.
Florida (28). Was No. 3. Now: 6-3 and ranked 24th. And probably overrated.
Texas. Was No. 4. Now: Complete breakdown has left the Longhorns 4-5 and in jeopardy of not going bowling.
Boise State (29). Was No. 5. Now: Undefeated and ranked fourth. Bus.
Virginia Tech (30). Was No. 6. Now: Two losses, one to an FCS opponent, though it is fair to argue that the Hokies lost to Boise State twice. Currently ranked 17th.
TCU (31). Was No. 7. Now: Undefeated and No. 3, with only one actual test left Saturday against San Diego State. That's followed by a milk run against New Mexico.
Oklahoma (32). Was No. 8. Now: 7-2 and ranked 16th. Utterly ordinary road team.
Nebraska (33). Was No. 9. Now: 8-1 and ranked eighth, with the one loss coming at home to horribly disappointing Texas.
Iowa (34). Was No. 10. Now: 7-2 and ranked 13th, coming off very fortunate victory at Indiana. Hoosiers receiver Damarlo Belcher dropped the winning touchdown on the last play.
Wake The Dash after Thanksgiving
For a sport that loudly proclaims its regular season to be so compelling that it offsets the flawed postseason, please explain to The Dash the significance of the next two Saturdays.
We got nothin'.
Unless there is a staggering upset, nothing that happens Nov. 13 or 20 will affect the national title chase. The schedule-makers have left us with little meat on the bone between now and Nov. 26.
That day will have to make up for lost time. That's Alabama-Auburn (35), Arizona-Oregon (36) and Boise State-Nevada (37). That's good stuff.
Until then? Lots of uninspiring filler.
Putting out an APB forFormer Georgia quarterback David Greene (38). Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the Bulldogs' all-time passing leader, please apprise The Dash.
Meanwhile, The Dash is pleased to report that last week's APB subject, former Penn State quarterback Chuck Fusina, is alive and well and living in Pittsburgh, where he and his wife have raised two college-age kids -- one an undergrad at Penn State, the other in law school at Virginia. Fusina works with a sporting goods equipment company and has plenty of friends and acquaintances willing to testify to his humble nature -- and allegedly biased officiating in Thanksgiving Turkey Bowls.
When hungry and thirsty in the tremendous town of Boise, The Dash recommends a visit to Bittercreek Alehouse (39). The food is very good and the beer selection is world-class. If you want to sample the local stuff, ask for a Sockeye Pale Ale (40). After dinner you won't have any difficulty finding night spots on 8th Street in a downtown that has a lot more going for it than most would imagine.
Throw in a football game and it's a nice place to spend a Busman's holiday.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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