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Saturday, November 22, 2014
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Hobbs Column: Les Miles undisputed ruler of state of confusion

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 10:56 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

I don’t know TCU coach Gary Patterson personally, although he seems like a decent enough sort of guy, and certainly his record with those Horned Frogs speaks for itself.

But, if I might, I would like to give him one small bit of advice: Don’t get into a War of Confusion with Les Miles.

You can’t win. For your own mental well being, please, just don’t go there.

Nobody muddies the waters like the Mad Hatter. Nobody. No coach tongue ties the obvious like Miles can. Forget about it. And surely nobody can body slam the English language, get it in a headlock and make it scream “uncle” like Uncle Les.

Think of it this way: Miles coddles confusion the way Nick Saban embraces the process.

Trust me. Trying to decipher Miles will only give you a headache. Someday somebody in Louisiana will come out with the Rosetta Stone Les Miles edition and become an instant millionaire.

Often, you can’t even figure out what he’s TRYING to say in that Pig Latin language all to his own.

I know, it’s frustrating.

Often, at news conferences, we writers will look at each other, shrug our shoulders and roll our eyes, as if to say, “Danged if I know.”

Follow-ups are no help. Most often, it only gets deeper and deeper.

You get used to it.

But trying to add to the general confusion — fighting confusion with more confusion — doesn’t do anybody any good. In fact, it’s probably a setup.

Just ask Derek Dooley.

The former Tennessee head coach tried it one time at the end of the most mystifying, mind-boggling LSU game you ever saw.

The Tigers had no idea what they were even trying to do, let alone what they were doing, and yet, in the midst of this hazy fog of last-second confusion, Dooley overreacted and tried to pour more chaos on the confusing fire drill, and ended up losing a game he had already won. They even put time back on the clock for it (the Vols, it seemed, had 15 or 16 — something like that — on defense, a no-no).

Dooley is no longer at Tennessee, by the way.

That’s an extreme example — Miles at his absolute, cat-that-ate-the-canary best — but don’t fall into that trap.

On the surface, Patterson’s counter-confusion attack on Tuesday seemed like a shrewd move in his chess game with Miles, a battle of wits that has become the SuspensionGate sidebar for Saturday’s season opener.

Hey, when two good teams haven’t played since 1968 — or really saw much cause to — you build your subplots where you can find them.

On Monday, Miles, in his own convoluted way, sort of almost said running back Jeremy Hill probably wouldn’t play and then appeared to say just as vaguely that he wouldn’t be surprised if Hill make the trip.

In other words, Miles is treating it like it was an injury instead of a player who is coming off a suspension and either has or has not done his due penance.

Who knows? It could mean Hill will play both ways, kick extra points and sell overpriced popcorn. It could mean he’s run off to join a cult and will spend Saturday night picking daisies on Jupiter or Pluto.

Anyway, on Tuesday, Patterson countered by saying that his own wayward star, suspended defensive end Devonte Fields, will dress out, but coyly left it to Miles’ imagination whether he’d play.

That was a pretty abrupt about-face for Patterson, who spent much of the summer patting himself on the back for the iron-clad suspension, especially with the way Hill was welcomed back to the LSU team.

Patterson explained Tuesday that he suddenly listed Fields as a potential starter on the official depth chart “to confuse LSU.”

Ha. Really now?

Gary, Gary, Gary. Don’t try to confuse the Master Muddler.

It’s not going to be good for anybody.

Maybe Hill and Fields will stand there on their respective sidelines as mutual deterrents in a Cold War-style standoff.

If Miles dare uses Hill, then Patterson — arm the missiles — will surely unleash Fields, who was the Big 12 defensive freshman of the year last season.

Maybe Patterson is just forcing Miles’ hand. As long as Fields is standing there fully padded, Miles surely wouldn’t use Hill and ignite the counter measures.

Hill probably wouldn’t be starting even if his suspension had been for nothing worse than missing the high notes with the church choir.

The Tigers have comparable running backs in Alfred Blue (the starter over Hill before being injured last year) and Kenny Hilliard.

They probably won’t miss Hill as much at the Horned Frogs would miss Fields.

So Miles would be wise to keep his hands off the red phone. And if that is what Patterson is thinking, with no intention of playing Fields, then good move, mate.

Well played.

Just be forewarned that logic rarely works in battles with Miles.

Personally, I don’t think either one of them will play, and both coaches know it.

But, then again, I could be confused.

• • •

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

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