by | College Football Insider

Rules of Engagement: Appreciating wacky words of Les Miles

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Les Miles has piled up wins and great quotes in his tenure as LSU coach. (US Presswire)  
Les Miles has piled up wins and great quotes in his tenure as LSU coach. (US Presswire)  

Rule No. 225: Enjoy the Les Miles Show while it's here.

Win or lose to Alabama in Death Valley, Les Miles will probably say something on Saturday that confuses, or enlightens, or maybe entertains. It's hard to tell this early.

While Alabama coach Nick Saban trusts "the process," Miles trusts whatever thoughts transfer from underneath that white and purple brim to an eager audience.

His interviews are often filled with a scattered delivery and sentences that range from explosive to curious. The hit list is growing.

Some might begin with Miles' plea to "Let 'er Rip" while at Oklahoma State. This is typically a good place to start.

The sort-of-denial, sort-of-not address of the Michigan job rumors is a staple as Miles stressed his "damn strong" football team and urged the SEC media to "have a great day" before symbolically dropping the mic, Randy Watson style.

He can also deliver the fiery pre-game speech.

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But LSU athletics director Joe Alleva sees beyond Miles' YouTube catalogue. He sees a good guy with a unique perspective on life.

"He has a lot of interesting thoughts that he expresses," Alleva said. "But he has his down time around the offices, too. Most of the time he's the same guy. A lot is made of his personality, but he's very effective in the way he speaks to his team or communicates with his staff.

"I liked the one [after the South Carolina win], when he said Death Valley is a place where opponents' dreams go to die."

Surely Alabama loves that one, too.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, a former Cowboys assistant under Miles, once said he'd often wait 58 words for Miles to make a point. But waiting for the gold nuggets were worth it.

Sometimes it's the subtleties of a Monday press conference, the personal vignettes among the noise of a rivalry week, that make Miles' words most effective.

Miles didn't just enjoy his bye week with his family. Instead, "the open date was met in the Miles family" with his kids' soccer and football games. As if Miles and the bye week shook hands in an alternate universe.

"I happen to find my son on Friday night playing a quality opponent on the road, my 9-year-old's soccer game at a local youth field, which was a desperately played game with great competition," Miles said. "And my eighth grade son Ben Miles played a rock 'em sock 'em football game with St. Aloysius [Catholic School]. It was wonderful time had by all."

Forty-nine-year-olds are probably too young to be using "rock 'em sock 'em" in casual conversation. But that's Miles.

Alabama isn't a good football team. It's "very fine," according to Miles.

Alabama running backs T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy aren't shifty, they are "loose."

The philosophical Miles explains his team's readiness for Alabama this way: "I think there's a piece in every man that says 'I just don't want this to end on the wrong side of the score.' I don't know if that's fear or not."

That's all from this week's press conference.

Miles might belong somewhere inside a Dr. Seuss book, but he also belongs behind a podium -- and inside Death Valley on Saturdays.

In the ruthless SEC, seven seasons might as well be enough to earn a pension. Miles has done well, but who knows where he'll be in 5-10 years?

Let's embrace this funky ride.

Rule No. 543,286: Georgia isn't ready to go away.

The Committee was impressed with Georgia's early season run and thought the Bulldogs might make a title run. That running game looked tailored for SEC snarling.

Then the Columbia Collapse happened.

For the following two weeks -- a bye and a sloppy win over Kentucky -- Georgia got railed publicly, teammates questioned each other and Mark Richt perpetuated one of the most fickle fans-to-coach love affairs in the SEC (He's either the ghost of Vince Dooley or Derek Dooley, depending on the day and which fan you ask)

And now? The Bulldogs are halfway packed for Atlanta. An 11-1 regular season schedule and an SEC East championship is widely

The last true test left is this week at home against the surging but not overwhelming Ole Miss Rebels. Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech are all Ws. This defense stocked with NFL talent wasn't going to play like a dog forever. Having a full-strength Jarvis Jones doesn't hurt.

The Committee isn't even sure the Bulldogs are better than Florida, though they deserve some credit for the Gators' six turnovers in a 17-9 win in Jacksonville.

But if they get to Atlanta, which is expected at this point, there's still a chance they could slide into the title game if a few undefeated teams drop.

Rule No. 28,206: Being a head coach just got a little bit harder. This week's NCAA's approval of tougher sanctions, a four-tier system ranging from egregious to minor, could result in coaching suspensions of up to a year for consistent rule-breakers.

An athletic director from a power school told the Committee recently his coaches were shocked when he told them a string of secondary violations from a few years back -- once considered slaps on the wrist -- would have forced the head coach into an embarrassing suspension in today's system. Talk about heightening the importance of hiring good people around you. It's got to be difficult to manage assistants who go rogue while out recruiting. Meanwhile, picture the head coach flipping through a massive NCAA rule book with reading glasses, trying to catch up.

Good luck with that. Already-ballooning athletic compliance departments will be crucial.

Rule No. 12: Expect Oregon and Texas A&M to be really good for at least the next 2-3 years

Just look at the top two spots in colleague Bruce Feldman's "List of Top 10 Impact Freshmen" for a few reasons why.

Rule No. 1,030: If you're a college football writer, don't move states in late October. Ever.

Rule No. 4,050,000,000: Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion will set the stage for Lando Calrissian to debate why Tim Tebow should play over Mark Sanchez.

Rule No. 5: If Notre Dame finishes undefeated, Manti Te'o goes to New York for the Heisman -- as a legitimate candidate, not the recipient of a free weekend. Book it.

Rule No. 28,206: Steve Spurrier is generally harmless with his prodding of rival coaches, and in a different setting, maybe calling Dabo Swinney's words "garbage" or "BS" would have passed. But it's all about timing here. And at the Marcus Lattimore parade, the timing was terribly off.


Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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