Blow it up; the nice little plan we laid out. The one after a comeback fell short at Georgia. The one that proved we still had a heartbeat in the National Title race. (The one that I blogged about last week)
Start over. Start a new conversation. Change your mindset, Tiger fans. Change your outlook and your stance. If you had an idea of how this season was going to play out, even if this isn’t the first time you’ve had to adjust, begin to adjust again. And this time, make it a huge change. A gigantic earth-moving shift in what you have been wishing for in 2013.
A crystal ball, the last of its kind, was once in our sights. Remaining goals for our 2013 squad? Remnants of a peach. A bank. Other various big name sponsors and their name-defiled bowl games. That is all. I could talk to you about how all we need is for LSU to win out; find their defensive swagger; get Mett’s confidence back together and start smashing our way to at least put ourselves in position for an Auburn upset in the Iron Bowl that, coupled with them losing the week prior to Georgia, would put us in the SEC Championship game—but I’m going to forgo that chatter. At least until my reckless fanship confidence regroups.
Folks, I have to say, I’ve had quakes about turning on my coach-in-law, Mr. Miles, over the years; but nothing has been as dank and cold as the feeling this past weekend’s loss gave me. Though, it wasn’t losing the game that gave me the sickly feeling. The loss I was handling strangely well. Maybe it’s because I was queasy all Saturday long leading up to the game and during the game I spent lying in the same bed watching; something I rarely ever do while a team of mine is playing. These were symptoms my body experienced, not a harbinger of a future event.
No, the real problem was the anger and astonishment I felt toward Miles’ absolute lack of awareness in the waning moments of the game. It’s a simple point. A goofball, Andy-Reid-Type mistake. One we’ve seen all too often. But it was the one drop of liquid that made the body of mistakes spill over the top for me. (You can now imagine how big my cup must be. Genetics.)
The worst part of it all is that I cannot directly blame the coach for the loss. I wish that I could. It is more likely that three early interceptions and four quarters of defensive indifference lead more to the season-crippling loss than Mr. Miles’ mistake at the end. If I go solely on the things I can prove, I know that the head coach is the only one the referees will allow to call a timeout in those moments (other than the players). And he did not call a timeout, as a coach should reasonably have done at that moment given his team’s predicament. For fourteen seconds, he did not act. (Inaction is a uniquely human intolerable for my taste. I cannot stand inaction just as much as I cannot stand someone in traffic waving you across when they clearly have, and should safely use, the right of way.) Sure, I could blame him for not having the team prepared, generally speaking. But that argument devolves into a discussion of percentages based on time spent with the team. How much did he not prepare them versus how much did his assistants not prepare the team? If you don’t give Miles the credit for the team performing at a high level how can you so easily give him grief for when the team screws up? I mean, if you believe a man is so incorrigibly incompetent you would be forced to figure the team/organization would have found solid ways of isolating his involvement. Wouldn’t it mean that the larger part of the team’s miscues also fall outside the areas where he would leave an indelible footprint? Are we to imagine that he is so perfectly dreadful that specifically the areas he makes a mark are the ones that bring us crashing to the ground and do so in a very small percentage of the games he has coached? That remains a thought inaccessible to this point.
I think it’s naïve to believe he doesn’t have an effect on his team; to the good, and to the bad. And, because of that, you have to give him equal praise and reprisal for successes and failures. I’ve long held back at firing upon such an easy target as Mr. Miles’ errors mostly because there were so many wins to glorify. That, and, generally speaking, the average Tiger football fan is pretty jaded when it comes to how often losses should dot the landscape and how to deal with them when they do pop up. It’s a part of winning that traditional power teams no longer understand. (Ahem, Los Angeles.) The good people of Cleveland, Ohio could give us all a long, sad lesson on being better losers and having more down to earth expectations. Not just the expectations need managing, keep in mind. It is also important to understand how to control ourselves when those expectations aren’t met. How to adjust as the season progresses and reveals itself.
It seems as if this parting of the ways with me and Mr. Miles is over what may be diagnosed as a side note within what was a truly tremendous flop of an effort by the LSU squad. The likes of which I could not comprehend even in my pre-game preparations: “hmm, I wonder what it would feel like if we actually lost to an unranked and overmatched Ole Miss team. “ (Often times before any game I run through in my head what the thought of losing would feel like in case I’m actually forced to confront those thoughts. This way, I’ve at least seen those feelings before I feel their full weight and effect. Try it. It helps, believe me.) The loss this weekend mirrored what most Tiger Fans’ complaints about Mr. Miles have been: that it isn’t THAT we lose with him as coach, but yet HOW we lose because of him as coach. I get that. I completely get that. I right here with you guys, really. And yes, under Mr. Miles, we have learned that even some victories seem like losses, depending upon how they fall into your possession. Still, over the years I’ve followed without complaining about our inherited in-law, Coach Miles. This weekend was too much. It wasn’t the most egregious of Coach Miles’ foul ups, but it was the last piece of evidence I will need to convict the current coach of what everyone else has decided him guilty of for quite some time: when the game is on the line, late in the game, Mr. Miles cannot be trusted with one of the most critical components of being a head coach in a football program. It is that simple. It’s akin to color blindness grounding an otherwise perfectly suitable pilot. (or at least at night) It’s a Band-Aid problem that creates a complex, incurable virus capable of bringing the team to its knees at any given game. Fourteen seconds of inaction…a consistent pattern of bungling moments and mind-numbing decisions that has highly unfortunately come to define Coach Miles’ legacy in Baton Rouge.