For the first time in a long time, Les Miles needs a job.
Miles was fired by LSU on Sunday -- along with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron -- thanks to a 2-2 start to the season. A season which he entered already standing on thin ice after a failed attempt at a coup last year.
I guess he could only hold the boosters outside the palace gates for so long.
Naturally, now that a job like LSU is open, and in September no less, there's been a lot of speculation about how LSU will go about replacing Miles. Ed Orgeron is serving as the interim, but nobody actually expects him to keep the job. There are a lot of interesting candidates -- I even wrote about 10 of them -- but there's one question I don't see nearly as many people asking.
What about Miles? Where does he go from here?
It's hard to say, mostly because this is Les Miles we're talking about here. He's never been the most conventional personality. One minute he's saying something incredibly profound, and the next he's eating grass on the sideline. There are random number generators that are more predictable than The Mad Hatter.
When trying to figure out what the future holds for one of college football's most interesting coaches, there are only three realistic possibilities. I'm going to break them down in the order I believe is least likely to most.
1. Les Miles retires: It's not crazy, really. We have to remember that Miles is 62-years old, and has been on a sideline coaching somewhere since 1980. It's entirely possible he decides to hang up the hat altogether and move on to life after football.
He's certainly made plenty of money in his career, and he has even more coming as LSU will still be paying him $12.9 million.
2. Les Miles finds a new coaching job: This is obviously an option for Miles, but I don't know for sure how appealing an option it will be for him. Like I said, he's 62-years old, and it's hard to know whether or not Miles would really want to begin anew at a different school at this point.
Plus, Miles is leaving LSU, where he won a national title and competed in the best division in college football. Odds are his next job won't be nearly as prestigious. Maybe he remains in the SEC and moves to Kentucky if that job becomes available, or he could go west and take over at Baylor. Hell, maybe a Big Ten job comes open and he heads north.
Wherever he would wind up, though, it won't be as good of a job as LSU was. He won't have the recruiting advantages he had with the Tigers, nor the same kind of talent within such close proximity to his campus.
I guess it all depends on how much Miles truly loves coaching. If he's more interested in working with young players and building a football team, he takes a "lesser" job. If he's interested in competing for national titles, I don't know where that opportunity presents itself.
3. Les Miles ends up on your television screen: I have to believe this is the odds on favorite. When you're still being paid $12.9 million by your old employer, there's nothing like a cushy television gig for some secondary income. The hours allow you to not only keep busy with work, but also to have a life outside of work, which is not an option when you're running a college football program.
Plus, Lee Corso is 81 years old, and Steve Spurrier doesn't seem interested in leaving the golf course any more often than he already has to. So it's hard to envision a more perfect replacement for Corso on ESPN's Gameday than The Mad Hatter.
Miles could slide right behind that desk and begin the next chapter of his life, and he'd fit right in. You know he's been dying to put on giant mascot heads for his entire life.
On to this week's superlatives.
Scapegoat of the Week
This award goes to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Hours before Les Miles was fired and stole the spotlight, VanGorder became the second major casualty of a bloody Sunday in the college coaching world -- FIU's Ron Turner was the first -- as he was relieved of his duties coordinating the defense of Notre Dame. It wasn't exactly a shock, even though Brian Kelly spent all of last week defending VanGorder, and even deflected the blame during the press conference following Notre Dame's 38-35 loss to Duke.
The problem for VanGorder was that Kelly's defense was no better than the one he used to be in charge of.
Now, I don't think firing VanGorder is really going to fix anything for a Notre Dame team that's off to its worst start to any season since 2007 (it started 0-5 that year and finished 3-9). In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Notre Dame defense through four games has been a mixture of personnel and injuries. It's just, when Notre Dame is now 0-3 against Power Five schools, and allowing 41.3 points and 505.3 yards per game in those contests, somebody is going to get fired.
VanGorder didn't do himself many favors, either. I mentioned the personnel as being a problem, and it was, but from what I saw from the Irish over these four games, it seemed to me that VanGorder was a bit stubborn. Instead of changing up his defensive philosophy to suit the players he had, and their talent, he seemed more interested in trying to hammer square pegs into round holes.
As for where Brian Kelly turns to replace VanGorder, LSU may have done him a big favor by firing Miles. Dave Aranda, one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the sport, joined Miles' staff at LSU just this season, and he may not be as interested in hanging around now that Miles is gone.
Worst Catch of the Week
This award goes to a young lady named Ashley Ward. Ashley is a photographer at Auburn, and because of this, she's afforded the opportunity to be on the field. Being on the field, she tried to do something any one of us would do when we had the chance: she tried to catch a kickoff that flew over the end zone and out of bounds.
Let's go to the tape.
Oh we're going to need a better angle.
Got sent the best angle of it. Seriously someone needs to make sure she's ok. (Source: Colin Edwards) PS: no this is not me. pic.twitter.com/NAcCsLC8qr— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) September 25, 2016
Here's one thing we know for sure: the next time a returner muffs a punt or a kick, Ashley will not judge them. She will quietly nod her head with a sense of understanding that only somebody who took a kickoff directly to the face can sense.
Now, don't worry about Ashley, she's fine. A little embarrassed by all of this I'm sure, but fine.
Stat of the Week
Going into this week's game against Michigan, I knew Penn State coach James Franklin didn't have the best history in games of such a magnitude, but I didn't realize things were this bad. Check out this stat ESPN's Chris Fallica dropped following Penn State's 49-10 loss to the Wolverines.
James Franklin is 0-18 as a head coach vs teams which finished ranked and has never beaten an FBS team which had more than 8 wins.— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) September 24, 2016
That's not good!
ArDarius Stewart's Weapon of the Week
During last week's game against Ole Miss, Alabama's ArDarius Stewart could be seen on the sideline toting an axe. This week he decided to change it up a bit.
This picture of ArDarius Stewart today... pic.twitter.com/rGzlyAsrNs— Ben Jones (@BW_Jones) September 24, 2016
We better hope ArDarius gets back on the field before he starts showing up to games with nuclear bombs.
Disappearing Coach of the Week
In a shocking upset, this award does not go to Les Miles. No, it goes to Michigan State's Mark Dantonio who appears to have vanished into thin air at the end of Michigan State's 30-6 loss at home to Wisconsin.
Stadium Usher of the Week
Next time you and your loved one are at Notre Dame Stadium and want to have a picture taken of you there, don't ask this guy to take it.
Deleted Tweet of the Week
This one comes courtesy of Kentucky governor Matt Bevin. Bevin just took office last December, so this is his first college football season as Kentucky governor, and these are the kind of mistakes we're prone to see from freshman governors.
This is a tweet from the Kentucky governor. Yikes. pic.twitter.com/E3YHo1MhRA— Aldo Amato (@Aldo_Amato) September 25, 2016
Seems innocent enough, right? Yeah, well the problem is Western Kentucky didn't beat Vanderbilt. It lost to the Commodores in overtime. Bevin sent the tweet late in the fourth quarter when Western Kentucky was winning 24-17, but the Commodores would score a game-tying touchdown on the final play of the game to force overtime, and they would win the game there.
He called this race too early.
Photo of the Week
This is what it looks like when you comeback from a 21-point deficit to end an 11-game losing streak to your rival.
Bad Beat of the Week
This tale of woe comes to us via Facebook from a reader named Matt.
I had followed your advice in Tom's Twitter Tip of the Day and in Pick Six and had a good start to my Saturday, so I decided to push my luck and go for a bigger score. I took my winnings from earlier in the day and put them into two Pac-12 games on Saturday night.
You know how it ended.
I do, but for those of you who don't, let me fill you in. We'll start at the Rose Bowl, where Stanford put together a late touchdown drive to take a 16-13 lead on the Bruins. Which was both good for Stanford, and good for Matt who had taken UCLA +3.5. The problem is, on the final play of the game when UCLA was ready to heave a Hail Mary, Josh Rosen was sacked and stripped of the ball. Stanford's Solomon Thomas scooped the ball up and instead of just going down to end the game, he went for the glory of the end zone and scored, making the final score 22-13.
As if that bad beat wasn't bad enough, a few hours later, Arizona State and California were locked in battle with the score 27-20 Cal after three quarters. A score that looked very good to somebody like Matt who had taken the under at 85.5 points. Unfortunately for Matt, his night only got worse as the Sun Devils and Golden Bears combined for 45 points in the fourth quarter.
Which is bad enough, but there's a bigger gut punch here. The score that put the game over 85.5 points came in the final minute. Cal scored a touchdown to cut Arizona State's lead to 44-41 with 54 seconds left. So there were then 85 points scored in the game. The Bears then did the logical thing, and attempted an onside kick.
The Bears didn't recover the kick, Arizona State's D.J. Calhoun did. And instead of just falling on the ball and icing the game, D.J. Calhoun did something else.
He returned the onside kick 42 yards for a touchdown to make the score 51-41, and crush Matt's under.
That's a bad way to end the day, and you have my deepest condolences, Matt.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
2. Ohio State
Until next week!