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The Magic Show Goes on for Lucky Les

Oct 10, 2010 – 3:18 AM
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David Whitley

David Whitley %BloggerTitle%

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The winning numbers in the Louisiana Lottery Powerball Saturday were 2, 6, 32, 42, 49 and 35. Don't be surprised if Les Miles had the ticket in his pocket.

LSU's coach is the luckiest man on earth. A week after an all-time fluke win that earned Miles far more ridicule than praise, he one-upped himself.

The Tigers beat Florida 33-29 thanks to a botched blind, over-the-shoulder bounce-pass fake field goal. That should quiet Miles' critics for, oh, the next 29 seconds.

"They didn't like us when were 5-0," Miles said. "Hopefully, they'll like us a little better at 6-0."

They or you or anybody who saw the nuttiness at Florida Field have to like LSU's defense and resiliency. But nobody left saying, "Gee, that Miles guy is as good as his record." They were probably saying, "Just who was he in a previous life?"

If people are rewarded for good deeds, Miles must have been St. Francis of Assisi. His clock management habitually turns last-minute drives into Saturday Night Live skits. The only thing that saved LSU last week was getting an extra play after Tennessee was penalized for having 13 men on the field.

"Sometimes you can win and still be a dummy," Steve Spurrier said.

He didn't name any specific dummies, but everybody knows who he was talking about. Miles inspires as much respect at coaching clinics as Sarah Palin does at MSNBC. The feeling is LSU may out-talent you or out-luck you, but it won't out-coach you.

You wonder what Spurrier's unsolicited comment will be after Miles' latest escape. Talk about overcoming yourself to win.

Florida has sunk so far so fast that Urban Meyer broke out the old uniform switch. The players ran out in orange jerseys for the first time since 1989. Unfortunately for the Gators, Tim Tebow wasn't wearing one of them.

Anybody who saw the nuttiness at Florida Field have to like LSU's defense and resiliency. But nobody left saying, "Gee, that Miles guy is as good as his record." They were probably saying, "Just who was he in a previous life?" The Gators should have been down 34-6 in the fourth quarter, but LSU handed them two touchdowns on turnovers, then Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Florida's offense was so bad that fans were booing during the go-ahead drive.

If the Tigers hadn't come back, Miles might have been fired Sunday morning. He may be 57-15 at LSU and have a national title. But that Keystone Koach routine last week against Tennessee solidified his Forrest Gumpian image. It's one thing for guys like me to poke fun at him, but ESPN even spoofed Miles during its pregame show.

"I don't give a rat's ass," he said.

Miles certainly hasn't lost any self-confidence. It showed when the Tigers lined up for a 52-yard field goal with 35 seconds left. He knew the Gators would be trying to block it, not defend a possible fake.

That made him smart. What made him lucky was everything else. Unless you believe Miles called everybody together and said, "Let's have our holder chuck a bounce pass over his head to our kicker, who'll catch it in stride and get us a first down."

Holder Drew Alleman took the snap and flipped the ball over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper, who'd taken off running. The play was supposed to be a lateral into Jasper's arms. Instead the ball traveled parallel to the line of scrimmage and hit the grass.

"Certainly it will bounce up," Miles said to himself. "Certainly it will bounce up."

Hey, you're Les Miles. Certainly it was going to bounce up.

Jesper gained five yards, but the whole thing was so screwy the officials had to take another look. Did the pitch travel one iota toward the line of scrimmage, making it an incomplete forward pass?

Approximately 90,721 fans sat in suspense for almost four minutes as the refs reviewed and re-reviewed the play. Approximately 90,600 booed when they announced the call would stand. On the next play, Jarrett Lee hit Terrence Tolliver for a 28-yard gain to Florida's 3-yard-line.

Let's see ... LSU had the ball near the goal line. Time was running out. Miles was managing the clock.

The Gators had the Tigers right where they wanted them.

Only this time, Lucky Les didn't blow it. Tolliver caught a fade route with six seconds left to win it.

You can see it now. Lucky Les will work his magic all the way to the BCS championship game, where Terrelle Pryor will start hallucinating after drinking some bad Gatorade and start throwing passes to LSU's secondary. Or maybe Ohio State's team bus will take a wrong turn and end up in Tucson, thereby forfeiting the game.

Meyer's won two national titles. What did he think of Miles' performance on Saturday?

"Next question," he said. "No disrespect."

Translation: I was beaten by a dummy.

But can this craziness really continue? The Tigers still have Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas. At some point the stars are going to stop aligning and balls are going to stop bouncing perfectly into kickers' arms.


"Our team feels like there's something special going on," Miles said.

So does everybody who buys a lottery ticket. Eventually they realize getting lucky is no way to earn a living.

Filed under: Sports