Les has miles to go in the SEC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

LSU head coach Les Miles just doesn't know when to shut up.

The Tigers' coach made headlines this week when he used the &#8220f” word as an adjective to describe Alabama during a speech at a recruiting party Wednesday.

During the signing day party, Miles made known his feelings for the university that signed away his predecessor.

&#8220We're looking forward to playing to Florida. We're looking forward to playing Auburn. But we have a new rival in (expletive) Alabama,” Miles said.

A new rival in Alabama?

I thought Alabama and LSU were rivals being that the two schools have played every year since 1964 and are divisional opponents in the same conference.

But maybe Miles was right.

Maybe he doesn't consider the two schools rivals since Alabama owns a 43-21-5 record over the Bayou Bengals and the Tide once went 31 years without being beaten in Tiger Stadium.

Or maybe Miles thinks the Tigers are the dominant power in the series now that LSU has reeled off four consecutive wins over the Tide.

In the last two wins, though, the Tigers escaped Tuscaloosa on a last-second touchdown pass in 2005 and then had to break the game open in the second half last season just to put away the Tide.

But someone should also point out to Miles that both of those wins were against inferior Tide teams and both years the Tide was coached by Mike Shula.

I realize Miles is disgusted that Alabama stole his Sugar Bowl thunder by hiring Nick Saban and I also realize he is bitter that the Alabama head coach came into his backyard and stole several of his players.

But that's life.

It has happened before and it will happen again.

Being angry and jealous of a school doesn't make it a rivalry.

Being competitive does.

The Tigers have made things interesting as of late, but when you look at the series as a whole, it's not much of a rivalry.

The Tide is already preoccupied with Tennessee and Auburn as its main rivals and just because Miles declared the Tide a rival doesn't make it so.

Sure, the Tide and Tigers have put on some great games over the years, but with the schedule as it is now with the LSU game right before the Auburn game, the Tide can't get hyped up to the fullest for both games.

And when the Tide has to choose which Tigers they would like to topple more, Auburn is the answer every time.

But maybe Miles was on to something when he declared (expletive) Alabama as a new rival.

LSU's main rival has always been Arkansas and the two teams battle it out at the end of every season for the Golden Boot.

Since there is no other big-name football schools in Louisiana or Arkansas, the Tigers and Hogs are stuck to battle it out as rivals each year, leaving recruits to wonder what football is like in states where the intensity for football never stops.

That's where schools like Auburn, Alabama and Florida come in.

Recruiting in Louisiana has always been easy for LSU because there is no competition.

But all that has changed.

Recruiting is all about winning and players want to go to schools that are nationally competitive and receive national exposure.

Coaches in the SEC have known this for years and that's why there are now three BCS Championship coaches (Fulmer, Saban and Meyer), one national championship coach (Spurrier) and another coach with an unblemished record (Tuberville).

These coaches have been there and done that and they know how to succeed in the SEC. They also know that sometimes not saying anything at all is the best option.

Miles is new to the SEC and he is still learning.

So perhaps someone should let him know that, sometimes, less is more.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com.