You are right that Les McLean makes it simple. I learned his split-grade method from him several years ago. The bottom line is that it is a tool, or a method. Critics of split grade argue that it doesnít do anything that canít be done with a single exposure (not considering dodging and burning at different grades). And that is true.
However, that argument is true for the end product only, and doesnít address that way to get there. Split-grade is a valuable tool if getting to the proper exposure and contrast in one exposure is alluding the printer. The route is different, even if the end is the same.
As for the exposure time in the teens, that recommendation is to allow enough time for dodging and burning; and for consistency. If your exposure times get shorter, thatís fine, all other factors being equal. You can always double the needed exposure simply by stopping the lens down one stop.
Enjoy. In time, as you become an experienced printer, much more of this will become easy. In the meantime, do what you have to do.
PS: I think you have moved from the DFW area. If you are ever back up here and want to come by, I can show you some more tricks.