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(Associated Press)

Hobbs: This was never about Arkansas

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:38 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

BATON ROUGE — Well, what do you know?

It was all just a big misunderstanding.

A foul-up in communications.

A product of the world we live in.

Les Miles isn’t going to Arkansas, was never going to Arkansas and shame on him for letting the story fester, and on all of us for paying any attention to it.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Now, can we all get on with our lives?

Oh, Miles got a raise from LSU out of the deal and an extension of his contract. But he didn’t need this transparent dog-and-pony show to get that.

This was never about Arkansas.

This was about the way the game is played, getting leverage and speeding up a process that was going to happen anyway.

This all started on the Internet, on something called SportsbyBrooks.com, a popular website that, frankly, I had never heard of. But on the same day of the startling Miles-to-Arkansas “scoop,” the same website was also reporting, breathlessly, that “Erin Andrews Has a Hot Sister,” and that “Kiffin Pic With Wife Stokes Off-Field Rumors” and a few leftover “Smoking Guns” from the Penn State scandal.

It’s amazing that the Miles and Arkansas rumors ever made the cut on such a busy news day.

Think of the National Enquirer with jockstraps and fight songs, with, as the site promises, “news and original commentary you won’t get from most mainstream media.”

I perused the website, which evidently is based in Los Angeles, for hours and I still don’t know who this Brooks fellow is. One assumes that’s him in full, all-knowing talk-radio garb on the site’s main page.

If he has a first name, the website doesn’t mention it anywhere that I looked.

Yet one tweet from this bunch, presumably Mr. Brooks himself — who knows? — pestered the “mainstream” news corps of at least two states into a feeding frenzy, wildly trying to confirm, track down or at least get a grip on a story that nobody believed was true for a nanosecond.

Think about it logically: Miles from LSU to Arkansas?

OK.

But why?

End of story.

OK.

But it’s not that simple anymore.

First, ridiculous or not, it had to go through the 24-hour news cycle wringer. Somebody planted it, I guess into Mr. Brooks’ lap, and even those who knew it was preposterous couldn’t ignore it any longer.

That’s the way the 24-hour news cycle works — throw it at the wall, you can always update it later with the facts.

Maybe somebody needs to digest it before running it up the flagpole (subject to change in the next 30 minutes).

Now, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Reporters are reduced to being carnival barkers, luring in “hits” and “followers” to web pages whether there’s anything to see or not.

Miles knew exactly what he was doing.

I like Miles. We get along fine, if in a detached, working-relationship sort of way.

In fact, I often find myself defending him — and I really don’t know why, but I do — from the LSU lunatic fringe that blames him every time LSU runs up the middle on first down or doesn’t beat Alabama.

He’s a good guy. He’s a good coach. I even like his famous quirks and it doesn’t bother me the way he tilts his mad hat.

But this charade was beneath him. Miles is bigger than this.

He was never leaving LSU. He knew it. We knew it. And he knew we knew it.

And yet the cat-and-mouse charade continued for 24 hours.

He could have shot down those bogus Arkansas rumors Tuesday afternoon — before they needed “anonymous sources” or sparked a Twitter avalanche — with two or three typically disjointed sentences and a stern but cheery “Have a great day!”

He didn’t.

While he was, according to LSU officials, out on what I assume was a routine recruiting trip Wednesday night, he was “aware of the reports” but he didn’t care to comment.

Too busy?

Funny, but a couple of hours before coaching the 2007 SEC championship game — a very important game that would get his team to the BCS national title game — Miles was able to set aside a few crucial minutes for a nationally televised news conference to deny rumors he was going home to coach at Michigan.

This time should have been like flicking lint off his collar.

Over and done with.

But he didn’t.

Wednesday, in fact, he called the offer a “sincere” one.

Well, OK.

He did dispute the bandied-about figure of $25.7 million over five years.

Dang decent of him.

If I was just blogging on the Internet or mindlessly tweeting, I would suggest to you that this was just another case of a perfectly happy and very rich coach taking advantage of a situation to get even happier by getting somewhat richer.

It is the American Way, of course, and you can’t begrudge a guy a few extra coins.

He has a good friend in Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, who started his career in the Michigan athletic department while Miles was starting his career as an assistant coach there.

What are friends for?

Well, he’s got a coaching search going anyway. Why not help out an old friend?

OK, Les, ol’ buddy, I’m going to be naming our real coach within two weeks, so have fun and do with it what you will until then.

Long or Miles or, more likely, even a third party somehow gets it out there and throws everybody into a tizzy. Over nothing.

But, in this day and age, everybody had to treat it like real news.

I don’t know what the answer is, I just know that, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably already been to SportsbyBrooks.com to check out Erin Andrews’ sister.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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