Gazzolo: Miles got in way of his team finishing off Tide

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Moments after his team’s heartbreaking loss to Alabama, Les Miles was equal parts disappointed and defiant as he met with

the media.

The LSU coach had just watched his shot at a second national championship slip away in the final minute to his most hated


Now, he was set to begin picking up the pieces.

“The good news is, we have a good football team,” Miles said.

He is right. They are good, just not good enough to win Saturday night.

Then, he decided to take shots at all

those who had the gall to pick against his Tigers, as if selecting

top-ranked and undefeated

Bama to win was a dumb thing.

“The idea that people would sit there

and discount this football team before they even played the game is just


said. “The idea that somebody would pick somebody else. ... It is

really interesting.”

Uh coach, it also proved to be the smart thing to do. LSU did lose, 21-17.

For the record, the Tigers were anywhere for an 8-10 point underdog according to “people” who do such things for a living.

“The experts” were not the only ones who didn’t have a lot of confidence in the Tigers. Miles appeared to do the same thing

when we take a look at some of his decisions.

When you attempt a fake field goal by throwing the ball from your punter to your kicker, you are questioning your team.

When you use a running back at quarterback, take your hottest player off the field for the season’s biggest fourth down and

run the ball straight into an 11-man front, you are questioning your team and your quarterback.

And when, after your defense has

dominated the second half and not given up hardly a yard, you sit back

in the prevent defense

and watch Alabama go right down the field just like it did in the

same situation at the end of the first half, you are questioning

your team.

It’s either that or your ego has gotten in the way and you are blinded by wanting to beat Bama coach Nick Saban and finally

break out of his shadow once and for all that you end up overcoaching.

No matter the reason, it seems Miles got in the way of his team finishing off the Tide.

All his tricks turned out to be treats for Alabama.

“I wish I could have had a couple of my calls back just so you know,” Miles said.

That’s not to lay all the blame on Miles for the loss, but he was a part of it.

It seems this coach, at times, doesn’t believe in his players.

Saban turned his team over to quarterback A.J. McCarron after their regular-season loss to LSU last year. The Tide haven’t

lost since.

And, just so you know, that was McCarron making all the big plays down the stretch when his team needed him the most Saturday


Meanwhile, Miles finally turned Zach Mettenberger loose in the second half only when hope turned to desperation. Mettenberger

responded with the best game of his career, fulfilling the promises of his hype.

But Mettenberger wasn’t even on the field for that key fourth-down play and Miles declined to attempt a 41-yard field goal

while up 17-14 midway through the fourth.

Seven minutes later, a first down would have ended Bama’s perfect season. Facing third-and-10, Miles took the ball out of

Mettenberger’s hands despite the fact the quarterback was 6-for-6 on his last six third-down attempts. Miles ran the ball

instead and then went for a 45-yard field goal, which the Tigers missed.

I understand if Miles just wanted to leave the game up to his outstanding defense. But he tried to play it safe instead of

keeping them on the attack.

Miles seemed to play this game not to lose more than to win. He was either protecting his players or he didn’t believe they

could line up and knock off mighty Alabama, which for the most part they did in the second half.

That’s why it seems silly he would question others on their reasons for not thinking his Tigers could beat Bama.

He seemed to have as much doubt as the rest of us.


Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at