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Les Miles on Gunner Kiel (again): it "takes a different breed of cat" to play for LSU

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

For God's sake, Les Miles, we get it.

Even though you originally thought -- like virtually every other major school in the country -- that Gunner Kiel was plenty quarterback enough for you to offer him a scholarship and accept his commitment, once he enrolled at Notre Dame instead you decided he wasn't, in fact, quarterback enough for LSU.

You told an LSU Signing Day crowd he lacked the "chest" to lead your program, a euphemism so transparent you should have just accompanied it with Sam Cassell's old dance move. You told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that Kiel's close connection to his Midwestern family showed that he lacked the "confidence and swagger" necessary to succeed at LSU, essentially endorsing the claims of embittered, lowest-rung Tiger fans that Kiel was a "momma's boy" (or something far more vulgar).

And now, Tuesday, you appeared on the Scott Van Pelt Show to squeeze a few more drops of juice out of your sour grapes, as documented by the Baton Rouge Advocate's Scott Rabalais:

All right, Les, first of all, if you truly "wish Gunner all the best," the way to express that isn't to say you wish him the best and follow that up by saying he's not good enough to "step into your stadium"--it's to wish him the best and shut up.

Second, let's remember that if the LSU quarterback position does require a "different breed of cat," the evidence of the past few years is that this isn't the sort of breed anyone's going to take to whatever the cat equivalent of Westminster is. For four years Miles played musical quarterbacks with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, a span in which his team averaged a 95th-place finish in FBS passing yardage and a 61st-place finish in passer rating. And of course, Miles's response to the best stretch of play either quarterback enjoyed in those four years -- Lee's highly efficient start to the 2011 season -- was to bench him at the first opportunity and hand the reins to the player who would average 2.8 yards per his 30 attempts in the team's SEC and BCS championship appearances.

So forgive us if we assume Kiel, unproven as he is, would have been capable of giving LSU every bit as much as the "cats" Miles has had at quarterback position these past few years ... if not more. The suspicion here is that Miles knows this, and simply hasn't gotten over Kiel's admittedly last-minute defection, a suspicion that only deepened with the news that the Tigers' lone signee at the position in 2012, Jeremy Liggins, could be headed to JUCO.

The alternative explanation is that Kiel's decision legitimately forced Miles to wholeheartedly re-evaluate his previous assessment of a quarterback he'd pursued for months. But that's an explanation we're not buying, and one that wouldn't excuse Miles' repeated shots at a conflicted 18-year-old a thousand miles away anyway. Miles's own offensive coordinator, Steve Kragthorpe, got over Kiel's decision weeks and weeks ago. Why can't Miles?

The likeliest answer, it seems, is that he feels his program was dealt a real blow when Kiel stayed at home, and he's doing his best to convince anyone listening that's not actually the case--maybe no one moreso than himself.

For a fuller transcript of Miles' comments, click here. They don't change anything.

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