ENGSTER: Tigers rally past Rebs; Money-Talk

LSU has now won nine games in a season for four consecutive years for the first time since 1969-73.

Saturday's 23-20 overtime victory over Ole Miss was in its own way as remarkable as the 17-16 thriller against the Rebels in 1972. That one was punctuated by a Bert Jones to Brad Davis touchdown pass with no time on the clock.


JaMarcus Russell connected with Dwayne Bowe from five yards out with 14 seconds remaining to send the game into an extra period made possible by a blocked extra point. Imagine if the Rebels had blocked Rusty Jackson's extra point attempt in '72. There was no overtime in those days, and LSU would have merely tied the Rebels despite the last second heroics of Jones and Davis.


The win over Ole Miss gives LSU eight wins at home for the first time on record, and the triumph over the Johnny Rebs was the only closely contested clash at Death Valley this year. The comeback from a 20-7 fourth quarter deficit was on the lines of another rally over the Rebels in 1977. LSU roared back from a 21-0 deficit to nip Ole Miss 28-21 at Jackson that year. Twenty-nine years later, it remains the greatest comeback in terms of points in Tiger history.


In previous frantic rallies against Ole Miss, LSU has fallen the following week. After the 1959 7-3 verdict over the Rebs highlighted by Billy Cannon's 89-yard punt return, LSU lost a chance to repeat as national champs in a 14-13 setback at Tennessee. The wins in 1972 and 1977 were answered with decisive losses to Alabama by two touchdowns in '72 (35-21) and three touchdowns in '77 (24-3).


Arkansas poses a strong obstacle to 9-2 LSU repeating its 11-2 record from a year ago. The Hogs have won ten straight since dropping a 50-14 opener to Southern Cal. The Razorbacks have their best team sine Lou Holtz and crew went 11-1 29 years ago and could collect their first SEC football championship with a win over Florida in the league title game.


Arkansas coach Houston Nutt coveted the LSU job when it opened two years ago and would like to send a message to Skip Bertman by whipping Les Miles and Co. the day after Thanksgiving. Both Nutt and Miles have been criticized roundly despite notable success in the conference.



A special report conducted by USA Today indicates Nutt and Miles are grossly underpaid when salaries of their conference cohorts are considered.


Here's the USA Today breakdown for payment to SEC football coaches:


Tommy Tuberville: Auburn        $2,231,000 per year plus $600,000 one time payment.


Phillip Fullmer: Tennessee… $2,050,000 per year plus $630,000 one time payment.


Michael Shula: Alabama        $1,766.853 per year plus $200,000 one time payment.


Mark Richt: Georgia                 $1,713,000 per year plus $2,400,000 one time payment.         


Urban Meyer: Florida          $1,524,500 per year plus $2,600,000 one time payment.


Les Miles: LSU…                    $1,450,000 per year (No one time payment).


Steve Spurrier: So. Carolina      $1,300,000 per year (No one time payment).


Houston Nutt: Arkansas        $1,049,644 per year (No one time payment).


Sylvester Croom: MSU…        $940.000 per year (No one time payment).


Ed Orgeron: Ole Miss…           $905,000 per year (No one time payment).


Rich Brooks: Kentucky         $729,165 per year (No one time payment).


Bobby Johnson: Vanderbilt       Information unavailable.



Miles ranks sixth in compensation among his SEC peers despite a two-year mark of 20-4.


After two seasons in Baton Rouge, Nick Saban was first in pay among his SEC cohorts with a record of 18-7.


The three top compensated college coaches in America are Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and Pete Carroll of USC. Stoops receives $3,450,000 annually to coach the Sooners while Ferentz and Carroll earn more than $2,780,000 yearly.


Ten coaches in the land are earning more than $2,000,000 each season and  at least seven others have one time payments exceeding $1,000,000 with Louisville's Bobby Petrino receiving a $5,000,000 one time payment and Ferentz snaring $2,800,000.


Miles is clearly underpaid and should receive an annual pay hike in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 at the close of this season. A victory over Arkansas would cement the value of Miles to LSU. The Tigers' coach is not in the Top 25 when it comes to payment for his services. At the same time, he is expected to direct LSU to Top Ten finishes each season and compete for national honors.


Former LSU Athletic Director Bob Brodhead once mused that "you get what you pay for." If LSU is to compensate its head coach 30th or 35th among his peers even though the Tiger program generates a Top Five amount of dough each year, Miles can't be blamed if he suddenly starts producing 7-5 or  6-6 seasons.




Jim Engster is the general manager of Louisiana Network and Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at jim@la-net.net

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