Time for college coaches to give thanks

Published 12:04 am Sunday, November 18, 2007

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time for everyone in the world of sports to give thanks.

On the college football level, there are several folks who will be giving thanks as they prepare to dive into that turkey and dressing next Thursday (that is, if they’re not breaking down game film for next Friday’s Egg Bowl and Golden Boot matchups).

No one needs to give thanks for more than LSU coach Les Miles.

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Never in one season has a coach made so many gutsy/insane decisions and gotten away with it.

He went for it on fourth and one from the five against Florida in the final minute when a field goal would have tied the game, only to have the team make it and score a touchdown two plays later.

Or how about throwing a completely unnecessary pass into the end zone against Auburn trailing by only one point and securely within field goal range, only to have the receiver make a fantastic catch with one second left.

If either of those plays fail, Tiger fans wouldn’t have to be wondering if Miles will take the Michigan job next year. He already would have been run out of Baton Rouge on a rail.

Miles should thank Lady Luck, or whatever mystical force controls the fate of his his crazy decisions.

And while he’s at it, he should knock on some wood to ward off any future decisions costing the Tigers a shot at a national championship.

Meanwhile, up in Starkville, Sylvester Croom should give thanks for opposing quarterbacks always throwing the ball to his team.

Mississippi State has won six games this year. In five of them, the Bulldog defense has run an interception back for a touchdown, including a 100-yard return by Anthony Johnson last week that led to MSU’s 17-12 win over Alabama.

Without all of those pick-sixes, who knows where the Bulldogs would be this year?

Croom should also thank true freshman quarterback Wesley Carroll, who came out of nowhere to be the best signal-caller State has had under Croom, and the first quarterback in recent years the fans have actually liked.

It always helps when you win four out of your first six starts, especially as win-starved as MSU has been the past six years.

Speaking of win-starved, the times just keep getting worse for Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron.

The Rebels are only one loss away from clinching their first winless SEC record since 1982 and the fans apparently are fed-up.

Only 23,000 showed up in 60,000-seat Vaught-Hemingway Stadium when the Rebels played Northwestern State three weeks ago, and Saturday’s game against LSU almost looked like a Tigers home game with all the purple and gold in the stands.

Orgeron should definitely give thanks to Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone and Chancellor Robert Khayat, who seem to be the only people still in his corner.

Both still say Orgeron is their guy, but fans are beginning to wonder if that is just wishful thinking as the Rebels keep losing. Only time will tell. Remember, Mississippi State fans had Croom all but fired after State’s 45-0 loss to LSU in the season-opener.

Last but not least, Alcorn State coach Johnny Thomas is just thankful the season is finally over.

After wrapping up the worst Braves season since the infamous 0-11 year of 2000 with a loss to Jackson State, Thomas can finally put this past season, with all the injuries and losses, behind him.

Maybe the Alcorn fans will find other things to do than bash Thomas now that the season is over and their attention can turn elsewhere.

And perhaps that will make Thomas’ Thanksgiving dinner go down a little bit easier.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3632 or jeff.edwards@natchezdemocrat.com.