Thanksgiving Saturday, 1949, Oklahoma A&M football coach Jim Lookabaugh said good-bye to the job he held for 12 years, still the longest tenure in Cowboy history. Near the end of the Bedlam game, the public-address announcer reminded fans that Lookabaugh had resigned and this was his exit. A crowd of 47,937 gave him a standing ovation. But that crowd was in Norman. That game was at Owen Field. That ovation came from Sooners. Times have changed. Les Miles won a national championship Monday night, and it's safe to say few on either side of Bedlam cheered LSU's victory in the Big Bowl. Miles is the most hated man in Oklahoma sports. The crimson crowd despises Miles because as Oklahoma State's coach he twice beat the Sooners and wouldn't cower to the Oklahoma football monster when the cameras flipped on. The orange throng is anti-Miles, despite his resurrection of winning ways in Stillwater, because he absconded for the LSU job before the smoke had cleared on the 2004 Alamo Bowl. OU fans paint Miles as an emotional buffoon. OSU fans call him disloyal. Both depictions were proven wrong in this bowl season. Miles is a heck of a football coach. Anyone could see that back in the ‘90s when he was Bob Simmons' offensive coordinator, and Miles kept his Dallas Cowboys job despite the coaching change from Chan Gailey to Dave Campo. It's a dicey idea that Miles, in his third LSU season, won this national championship courtesy of Nick Saban's recruiting. Argue that, and what do you do with Urban Meyer (national title in Year No. 2), Jim Tressel (Year 2), Bob Stoops (Year 2), Pete Carroll (Year 3) and Larry Coker (Year 1)? Miles can coach some offense and got out of the way for Bo Pelini to direct the LSU defense, and the Tigers had a special season: 12-2, with both losses in double overtime. The theory that Miles loses close games doesn't wash, either. LSU won four SEC games by a touchdown or less. Hate him if you wish, Sooner fans, for his high hat and his foaming proclamations and his 2001 Bedlam upset that knocked the Sooners off National Championship Boulevard. But forget that can't-coach nonsense. Miles is a big-time coach. As for loyalty, well, Miles is ahead of the curve on that one, too. Yes, he bolted OSU. Just like Jimmy Johnson in 1984, for a juggernaut at Miami U.; and Dave Smith in 1973, for scandal-ridden SMU; and Ears Whitworth in 1955, for Alabama, where he lasted three years and was replaced by Bear Bryant; and Pappy Waldorf in 1934, for Kansas State and its only league championship between 1913 and 2003; and Pinky Griffith in 1917, for New Mexico State; and even Paul Davis in 1915, for North Dakota State. Successful coaches leave OSU. They've been doing it for a century. State wants to change that, which is one reason it hired Mike Gundy, and maybe it will change. But it's silly to rip Miles for following the trail of Johnson, who after OSU won a national title and two Super Bowls, or even Waldorf, who post-Stillwater went 123-79-12 in 23 years at K-State, Northwestern and California. Miles did not quit on his team; he coached the Cowboys through the Alamo Bowl, and yes, maybe he waltzed with LSU on the San Antonio Riverwalk, but you really think that's why Ohio State rolled 33-7? Miles should be heralded in Stillwater. He left the Cowboys with three straight winning seasons; a freshman quarterback (Donovan Woods) who won road games at UCLA, Colorado and Missouri; and another quarterback, Bobby Reid, who was the most sensational recruit in school history, just in case. Miles wanted to chase a national championship. That's why he left OSU. I know all the hacks around the program told Cowboy fans Miles wouldn't leave for anywhere but maybe Michigan, but that's why you don't listen to fools. Yes, you can win a national title at OSU, but you better take the top off your bottle and hope it storms. Much, much easier to win at LSU. Heck, that national-title hunger is why Miles stayed at LSU and didn't go to Michigan, his dream job. If you ever heard Miles talk about Michigan and Bo Schembechler, you know how much he revered the place. But Michigan came open at the wrong time, with LSU on the brink of a title. If Miles could have figured out a way to take the Michigan job and keep LSU humming into the Big Bowl, he would have done so. But he chose the national title hunt. Just as he did three years ago. OSU fans shouldn't be angry at Miles. They should be glad he passed their way.
LSU coach Les Miles now has a national title under his belt and that's the reason he bolted OSU for the bayou. Associated press