BATON ROUGE — Bennie Logan was in no mood Saturday night to hear questions about Alabama’s devastating last-minute win in Tiger Stadium.
Instead, the junior LSU defensive tackle had another message.
“To be honest, everybody was talking about Bama this,” Logan said, sweat from the game still trickling through his thick beard and soaking his white undershirt. ‘Bama’s offensive line is the best in the nation. Bama blah blah blah all this and that. As a defense, we felt disrespect because nobody was giving us credit about anything.”
And then, in spite of what the scoreboard read in the end – Alabama 21, LSU 17 – Logan dropped this bomb.
“Everybody was talking about Bama could play an NFL team, Bama this and that,” he went on. “They’re a good team, but the hype and all surrounding them is not all what people are saying about them.”
Logan may, of course, be right.
Alabama may, in fact, not be the world-beaters everyone projected them to be.
But in the end, the better team won.
Not because Alabama’s players were necessarily better, mind you.
Zach Mettenberger all but outplayed his counterpart A.J. McCarron, throwing for 298 yards and a spectacular touchdown on 24 of 35 passing, while LSU’s defense likely left people thinking it was the better unit, holding an Alabama offense to 100 yards and 19 points fewer than normal.
No, LSU isn’t the better team because it doesn’t have the better coach.
In 2012, the score reads Nick Saban 2, Les Miles 0.
Inexplicably, Miles had become the Rush Limbaugh of college coaches this season, keeping fourth-down tricks and special teams treats to a minimum.
And inexplicably, Miles went retro Saturday night, pulling out his gambling Mad Hatter persona when the team least needed it.
There was the fake field goal on fourth-and-12 from the Alabama 30 in the second quarter when a punt, or an actual field goal, would have been the right call.
There was the 54-yard field goal attempt on the next series from the Crimson Tide 37 when, you got it, a punt would have been the right call giving Alabama a long field.
There was the onside kick after LSU had just cut into Alabama’s lead to 14-10 in the third quarter that took an unlucky bounce and gave the Crimson Tide the ball at the Tigers’ 44. LSU, by the way, already had forced two three-and-outs in the quarter and had the defensive momentum and Tiger Stadium rocking.
And there were the three straight rushing plays from inside the Alabama 32 late in the fourth quarter, setting up a field-goal try instead of going for the jugular with momentum on their side.
“I wish I could have had a couple of my calls back just so you know,” Miles humbly said after the game. “That is the way it goes.”
It recalled January when, in the BCS title game against Alabama, Miles didn’t do enough.
On Saturday night, while Saban, pardon the expression, stayed calm, Miles tried to do too much.
Instead of trusting a team that, maybe for the first time all season played a complete game against a top-notch team, Miles chose to roll the dice.
The good news, if there is any, is that even with the loss, LSU answered questions about it.
“For the disrespect shown to our team, it’s one of those things to where media-wise, you know, we just put our foot in a lot of people’s mouths,” LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t say what you want to say, but it’s one of those things to where you look at somebody and say how can you think so little of the team?”
Said Mettenberger, “We played with confidence tonight and executed well. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes. If we always do that, our offense will be great.”
Maybe that’s the story of Saturday night. Revenge for 10 months earlier wasn’t had but respect likely was gained.
“The last play unfortunately cost us a touchdown,” Logan said. “But it was a sense of pride for the whole team. We wanted to come out and establish ourselves and show the nation how dominant we are. We did a good job of that, just showing.”
It’s just too bad their coach did not.