unexpected preview of LSU's vaunted team speed were four Tigers seen sprinting
out of Scores, a strip club on Bourbon Street, at 11:51 last Friday night. They
had nine minutes to cover the five blocks to the team hotel and however many
floors to get to their rooms before a midnight curfew. The way they hightailed
it toward Canal Street, the players made bed check with plenty of time to
Ohio State was all
business when it arrived in the Big Easy five days before the game. Prior to
facing Florida in last year's national title game, the team was lodged at a
posh Scottsdale resort for part of its 12-day trip, and many Buckeyes remain
convinced that their stay there softened them up for the Gators. This time they
were billeted at a hotel whose best feature, according to Barton, was its
fitness center (which he used between practices).
place I've been," cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said last Friday, "is
"If there's a
time to have fun down there," All-America linebacker James Laurinaitis said
of Bourbon Street, "it's Monday night—after the game."
The Buckeyes who
did make their way to Bourbon Street following the game had no reason to
celebrate. Seeking redemption for their 41--14 humiliation at the hands of
Florida, they suffered more disappointment. Celebrating, instead, was Flynn—at
Standing on the
dais after he was named the game's offensive MVP, the quarterback wound up in
possession of the football-shaped crystal trophy awarded to the BCS champion.
While Miles addressed LSU fans, virtually all of whom had stuck around for the
ceremony, Flynn stood behind his coach striking a series of poses with the
crystal, to the delight of teammates.
BUT THE victory
may have been sweetest for Miles, who hadn't won over Tiger Nation despite
going 11--2 in each of his first two seasons. With national-title-caliber
talent, rabid LSU fans argued, he didn't win so much as a conference
championship until this, his third year.
and any lingering suspicion over his unconsummated affair with Michigan were
swept away in the tumult at the Superdome. With two minutes left in the game,
the crowd had taken up a thunderous chant, "Les Miles! Les Miles!" The
coach was feeling the love then, just as he would feel it several hours later
while standing on a Bourbon Street balcony and holding the trophy above a
raucous, adoring throng.
outside his temporary office in the team hotel, Miles had talked about the
temptation of the Michigan job. "I've got to be real honest with you,"
he said. "Michigan didn't communicate with me. I did everything I could to
arrange an opportunity to talk [later]."
He could have
lobbied more forcefully for the job but held off while his squad remained in
the national title chase. Not even the Mad Hatter, as he came to be known this
season, is that crazy. "The thing about Bo," he said of Schembechler,
for whom he played and coached at Michigan, "was that there was never any
question about his commitment to the team."