DEVILLE: "Beating a Dead Horse to Death"

There probably has never been a more quotable football coach than Curley Hallman.

Likely the reason the former Tiger coach was so colorful was the fact he had to explain so many ugly losses during his four-year tenure. From 1991-94, Hallman compiled a 16-28 record, the worst by any coach in the SEC era. Once, the Alabama alum referred to his offense after one loss during the 1993 season as his team's "Achilles Tendon."

Considering the events of the last several weeks and most notably the past few days, it seems appropriate to use another famous quotation from LSU's most unsuccessful coach of the modern era.

Ironically, the statement referenced will be applied to the Tigers' winningest coach of all time.

Following one of the many losses of the Hallman era, the coach said in a postgame news conference "Let's not beat a dead horse to death."

Speaking of a dead horse, it has not only been beaten to death over the past few weeks, but also kicked, prodded, punched and smacked around.

But it seems Les Miles has finally gotten his point across, HE WILL NOT BE THE NEXT COACH AT MICHIGAN.

Period.

One would have thought after Miles' multiple press conferences in Atlanta before and after the SEC Championship Game it was quite clear he would be staying put in Baton Rouge.

With balled fists and teeth clenched, Miles growled "I am the coach at LSU. I will be the coach at LSU."

ESPN had reported earlier in the day on Dec. 1 that Miles was expected to become the next coach at Michigan. Miles rebutted the claims and insisted he was staying, however, the Worldwide Leader in Sports remained stubbornly skeptical.

It seemed even more evident Miles was committed to the Tigers when he addressed the LSU Board of Supervisors last week upon inking a new deal with LSU that would make him among the highest paid coaches in the country.

Case closed right?

Not exactly.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that Miles had apparently talked with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and university president Mary Sue Coleman. The newspaper then recklessly labeled Miles again as a candidate for the Michigan coaching vacancy.

The national media, especially ESPN, took the story and ran with it stating Miles was very much in the hunt to coach the Wolverines next year. The cable sports network remained strong on its stance that Miles would go to Michigan, which would allow it and college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit to wipe the remaining chunks of egg of their collective faces.

The Internet was abuzz most of the day on Tuesday as speculation mounted as to what Miles might do. But by mid afternoon, the LSU coach, who was out of town on a recruiting trip, issued a statement that finally put the rumors to rest.

The statement read:

"I had a conversation with Michigan last week that covered a wide range of topics," Miles said. "I was doing nothing more than helping them with their search for a football coach, just as any loyal alumnus might do. It was nothing more than that.

"I'm not a candidate for that job and I will not be a candidate for the job. I was only assisting them in their search for a coach. I have a great job at a wonderful place, a place that my family calls home. It's time that Michigan goes on with their search for a football coach. I'll say it again, I'm going to be the coach at LSU next season."

While it seems strange that one coach would talk with another university's officials about its search for a new coach, you can refer back to Miles' comments following the SEC Championship Game pertaining to his love of Michigan and his concern for the future of the Wolverines football program.

In Atlanta on Dec. 1, Miles said "There's a proud tradition (at Michigan), and they have to do the things they have to do. I'm for them, and if there's any way I can help them, I'd love to help them. But I'm not going there."

Miles said in his statement Tuesday that he had talked with Martin about the coaching vacancy and the process of Michigan hiring its next coach. There were plenty of skeptics that questioned why Miles might talk with another school about its coaching search and there was those still insisting that he was inquiring about the job.

However, it was the final sentence of Miles' statement that brings some finality to the circus that has surrounded both the LSU and Michigan programs over the past few weeks.

"I'm going to be the coach at LSU next season," Miles said.

There were many who dissected Miles' comments in Atlanta when he said he would coach at LSU next year. Some felt he was implying he would coach in LSU's bowl game to be played in January 2008, which is technically next year. It turn sout LSU will play for college football's top prize in the BCS Title Game against Ohio State.

But on Tuesday, Miles finally said "next season," meaning he would be coaching - at LSU - for the 2008 season.

And with that, the "dead horse" has sufficiently been beaten "to death."

May it rest in peace.

And to quote another football coach, one much more successful than Hallman, "It's time to move on."

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Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at matt@tigerrag.com.


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