Hobbs: All's fair in love and SEC football

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

As a coach, surely it’s your worst fear, always a nightmare waiting to happen.

It’s the week of the big game and, no

matter how hard and long you preach the blessings of a civil tongue, no

matter how forcefully

you remind the lads to lay low and let the big dogs vegetate,

somebody gets a little full of themselves, the allure of social

media beckons, and the next thing you know …

There will always be some knucklehead out there who can’t keep his mouth shut, has a buddy on the other team or just loves

to hear himself talk. So that 20-year-old chutzpah gets to flowing and he can’t resist a little dig at …

Oh, but wait.

Jordan Jefferson apparently was not involved, neither was it Honey Badger-related this time.

This week it’s Les Miles himself who is all over the Alabama bulletin boards.

It was quite the hot topic in Tuscaloosa on Monday, this outrage over the fighting words uttered by LSU’s head coach.

It was one of those rare moments of Miles’ clarity that didn’t need a Les-terpreter, although it seemed fairly harmless at

the time.

But it happens. You get caught up in the moment, let your guard down, soon enough you’re singing like Pavarotti.

Anyway, it was after a recent LSU victory when Miles got a little carried away in giving thanks to the home crowd for its

vocal support.

Apparently, he meant no disrespect, but he did, in fact, at one point refer to Tiger Stadium as “truly a place where opponents’

dreams go to die.”

Miles, at the time, had just beaten South Carolina, and the shattered dreams of which he was speaking belonged to a generic

opponent.

But Miles’ poetry apparently isn’t for everyone, an acquired taste, if you will.

Alabama, which has some lofty dreams of its own at stake here, has decided to take it personally.

Word from the Alabama campus is that

strength coach Scott Cochran, in particular, has taken offense to Miles’

mumblings while

also rising up with indignation. The troubling reports quote

numerous Tide players as saying their weightlifting this week

has been accompanied by constant reminders from Cochran of exactly

what Miles said and how it pertains to the Alabama cause.

Frankly, I think this kind of boorish overreaction is beneath the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide in general and the LSU-Alabama

series in particular.

But Miles, an adult, should have known

better. He has just assured Alabama that the Tide will have the edge for

the all-important

coin-toss stare-off. The emotional momentum could last until

almost the end of the opening kickoff.

Who knows where it goes from there?

But it really has no place in the Alabama-LSU game.

Regardless of what hooliganism the fans may have been up to occasionally, this series has been marked by remarkably clean

and sportsmanlike play from the two teams on the field.

It is always one of the hardest-hitting yet cleanly played games of the year. Two teams that really seem to respect each other

and the ideals of what college football always claims it is supposed to be about.

But this has, in fact, come up before — as the current Alabama coach is well aware of from his LSU days.

And if Alabama, back in 2002, could take offense to something then-LSU coach Nick Saban never said, then surely the Tide is

within their legal rights to stretch themselves into the target of something Miles did say.

Saban was victimized by an Internet prank in the week leading up to the 2002 LSU-Bama game.

It was a supposed transcript of his postgame speech after the Bluegrass Miracle win against Kentucky, and it took quite a

few shots at the Tide, LSU’s next opponent.

Keep in mind that the World Wide Web

was still in its relative infancy back then and was not blessed with the

diligent fact-checkers

we enjoy today.

It was actually penned by an LSU fan

who no doubt thought himself quite clever, but it went viral mostly in

Alabama’s cyberspace.

The ineligible Tide at the time were involved in several delicate misunderstandings with the NCAA rule book, and the faux

Saban let them have it with such transcribed tirades as “everybody on their team drives a Lexus!”

He also mentioned ill-gotten “401ks,” which should have been a tip-off that it wasn’t anything really trying to impress college

football players.

But the Bama players evidently bought into it, and played with a certain fire while hammering LSU and Saban 31-0.

Which was OK. You do what you have to do.

Except, that after the game, not only were the Tide players cool toward Saban, adult head coach Dennis Franchione wagged a

finger at him after a cool handshake.

Falling for such an obvious farce probably had school officials worried that an Alabama diploma would be rendered as worthless

as the postgame speech.

But, as they say, all is fair in love and SEC football.

So Miles might wish to refrain for the remainder of this tense week any mention that LSU owns the nation’s longest home winning

streak at 22 straight and counting (precariously). Neither should he remind anyone that, personally, he’s 36-1 in Saturday

Night Tiger Stadium games.

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