Todd Porter: Bits, chips and summations on the BCS

Todd Porter

Way back in the spring, before parity turned the college football season upside down, Jim Tressel and Les Miles sat in the same room, looked at the same tape and exchanged ideas, philosophies and playbooks. Ohio State visited the LSU campus earlier in the year, a clinic of sorts that Tressel makes every year with his staff to different campuses, to learn.

How could Miles, a Michigan graduate, let an Ohio State coaching staff in his meeting room? How could either have figured they’d be playing for all the marbles eight months later?

“Les was an Ohio guy before he was a Michigan man,” Tressel said. “Les Miles is a good person.”

Miles, who has turned down the head coaching job at his alma mater — maybe even used it to leverage himself a fat raise — is in position to win one for the Maize and Blue, too. It was just a few days ago that Miles, lips pursed, talked about UM beating Ohio State, one of these days. He tried his best to look and sound like Bo Schembechler, his old coach and mentor.

His comment got a good laugh. You’ve got to figure, though, that part of Miles was serious.

But LSU, he said, is home. Miles sold his team better than any coach in the country during the weekend’s 12-hour stump. The Tigers didn’t really lose twice, they just ran out of overtimes.

“We lost two games in triple overtime that exhausted us,” Miles said. “For us to come back and play, and play well, and win the next week, that shows you this football team’s makeup, character and style of man on this team.”

Who is Les Miles?

There have been times this season when Miles seemed disingenuous, and times when he looked downright grumpy.

I mean, the “triple-overtime losses don’t really count” argument is blithering at best.

No one beat LSU in regulation, but the Tigers didn’t win two games in regulation. They had a couple of other close calls, too.

Those who know him say Miles is a classy guy who runs a clean program. But perhaps former Colorado coach Bill McCartney, once Miles’ boss, went overboard.

“He has a father’s heart,” McCartney said. “A pastoral heart.”

Holding serve

A look at how the coaches voted in the final USA Today poll provided some interesting nuggets.

Between a dozen coaches who vote from the Big Ten and Pac-10, Ohio State carried both unanimously.

Florida International Head Coach Mario Cristobal didn’t do himself any favors in Ohio when he voted the Buckeyes sixth on his ballot. That was the lowest anyone put them. How does Florida International have a vote, anyway?

Tressel’s top eight went like this: Ohio State, LSU, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Missouri and Kansas.

Last year, Tressel did not vote in the final poll because the Buckeyes were a clear No. 1 and he didn’t want to influence who his team played in the national title game. The folks who run the poll were none too happy about it and threatened to take away Tressel’s vote if he did it again.

Steve Spurrier, the ol’ ball coach at South Carolina, voted the Buckeyes No. 5. Interesting fact about Spurrier: He once lost a coaches’ association golf tournament to Ashland Head Coach Lee Owens. Owens, an assistant for Ohio State at the time, chipped in to end the playoff, and Spurrier wasn’t happy about losing.

Tigers without Pelini?

LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini, another Ohio guy, accepted the Nebraska job on the same day LSU got into the championship game. It is uncertain if Pelini will coordinate LSU’s defense for the national title game. Miles said he wants him there, but Pelini seemed to want to start his new job. Does LSU really want a coach who may not be with them body, mind and soul?

The final word

Ohio State was criticized for advancing in the polls while the Buckeyes basically ate turkey and Bon Bons the last two weeks.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” was Tressel’s response to getting in. “We had a brutal road schedule. I don’t think we have to apologize for taking Thanksgiving off.”

Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail: