Les Miles, LSU Gets Big Win With Gutsy 'Mad Hatter' Calls

Henry BallSenior Analyst INovember 6, 2010

Les Miles Enjoys his Darn Fine Football Team
Les Miles Enjoys his Darn Fine Football TeamChris Graythen/Getty Images

"Les Miles only won with Nick Saban's players."

It is as stupid as it sounds, and it never was a good argument. Now, that Les Miles—with HIS players—has beaten Nick Saban and his players, this argument should be file 86'd forever.

Miles has taken more abuse and blatant disrespect than Rodney Dangerfield could have ever joked about.

The national media has blasted LSU and Miles all year, calling the Tigers overrated, inconsistent, undisciplined, coached by a buffoon who couldn't tell time and shouldn't be allowed to operate a riding lawn mower.

It was so bad at one point that ESPN's 'Gameday' had first graders giving instructions on time management.

Meanwhile, LSU has now beaten four nationally ranked teams (UNC, WVU, Florida, Alabama) and another that is now ranked (Mississippi State). No other team in the nation has beaten that many ranked teams, yet those games have all been close, and Miles has been questioned and ridiculed for virtually every call that didn't go his way.

Nevertheless, here they stand on the cusp of the top five with an 8-1 record (5-1 in the SEC), with their only loss coming to number two Auburn and the seemingly invincible—and possibly expensive—Cam Newton.

LSU is not in control of their destiny for the SEC championship game (or the BCS National Championship Game), but assuming the Tigers win out, they would almost assuredly make it to the BCS and could finish as high as number two in the country, in the final standings.

If LSU can achieve such a feat with an offense barely ranked in the top 100, two quarterbacks (save tonight's performance) who have struggled to the point that punter Derek Helton has been by far the best player on the offensive side of the football, then one has to wonder if Les Miles shouldn't be a legitimate candidate for SEC if not National Coach of the Year. 

Whatever you think of Miles' shortcomings, there is no doubt that he is one of the all-time greats, holding the career record at LSU for fourth-down conversions by, as he would say, "letting it rip" with the game on the line.

In Saturday's contest, on a crucial fourth down at LSU's 26, needing one yard for the first down (but only a field goal to take the lead), the obvious call was to allow LSU's career field goal leader, Josh Jasper, to kick the chip shot for the lead.

Instead, Miles decided not only to go for it, but—after bending down to pluck a couple of blades of grass to chew on—called for a beautifully executed double pitch reverse right at the line of scrimmage to tight end Deangelo Peterson. That brought the Tigers all the way down to the 4-yard line, where Stevan Ridley forced the ball in for a touchdown and then the Tigers converted the two-point conversion to take a seven-point advantage and a huge lead in momentum.

In 2007 Les Miles earned the moniker of "Mad Hatter" and a national championship by making those types of calls when the game was on the line.

On Saturday in Tiger Stadium, LSU fans looked to the home team's sideline and said, "Welcome back, Mad Hatter. We have missed you!"