Miles' Boo-Boo; he woke Yogi

Phil Riddle phil.riddle@empiretribune.com Twitter @ETSports

It’s not unprecedented.

People in sports have done it forever.

Joe Namath did it.

Jimmy Johnson did it.

They poked the bear and lived to tell about it.

West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. did it, and not only woke the bear, he angered it. He waved raw meat in front of it. He challenged it to a knuckle to paw fight in the woods.

And the bear mauled him.

Miles made a comment to the press prior to his Mountaineers taking on Kentucky, the virtual unanimous favorite to win the NCAA title. The Wildcats won their first 36 games and the WVU freshman decided he was going to call out the Blue and White bullies.

“I salute them for getting to 36-0, “he said. And he’d have been okay had he stopped right there. The bear doesn’t mind being flattered. But he had to continue. “But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1.”

Here that noise. That’s the bear. He’s snickering.

“They should be more intimidated. Because they’re the pones who have the high standard, and we’re coming for them,” said Miles, apparently on a roll. He also told the press that UK would be unable to pass the ball under the West Virginia press.

Joe Namath guaranteed his 1969 New York Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. And they did.

Jimmy Johnson guaranteed his Cowboys would beat the AFC Champion Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. And they did.

And Miles suggested the Mountaineers would stop Kentucky’s unbeaten string…But they didn’t. Not even close. They were nine zip codes away from being close.

In fact, the Wildcats, possibly a little miffed at being taken so lightly, doubled West Virginia, 78-39, and sent them home battered.

Don’t. Poke. The. Bear.

When pressed for a comment after the game, Miles simply said, “Kentucky played great.” He said it several times.

Perhaps if he’d watched one of 36 previous postgame interviews, he’d have known “Kentucky played great” and never given the ‘Cats bulletin board material.

Miles’ coach, Bob Huggins said his players’ comments played a small part in the outcome.

But that’s not what UK freshman Tyler Ulis said after the lop-sided victory.

“They should have kept their mouth shut and it might not have been like that,” Ulis said. “Our whole plan was to crush their spirit – beat ‘em by 50 for disrespecting us.”

Coaches at nearly every level of sports generally go out of their way to say nice things about their opponents.

“The fact they’re 0-64 in the last seven seasons is not an accurate reflection of what a good team they are,” a coach would say to reporters, trying hard to allow Yogi to keep napping.

And they do that because on critical aspect of sports, especially college sports, is the emotion of the players. Cranking up the emotional volume of your opponent to 11 only makes for problems.

And unless you are Joe Namath or Jimmy Johnson…

Don’t poke the bear.