11/26/15 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The first thing I’d like to do today is wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I’d also like to thank all of you who emailed me with your kind words concerning the Thanksgiving message I posted yesterday. It’s great to know that so many of you can relate to the recollections, observations and values expressed in my Dad’s stories of simpler times in the 30s and 40s, or to my stories of growing up in the 70s and 80s. For many of you, reading those stories brought back magnificent memories of family and all the things we have in our lives for which to be thankful, and to me that’s what today is all about. If you missed it in yesterday’s report, I hope you’ll take a moment to click here and read my annual Thanksgiving message.
Now for our normal order of business…
Speaking on the SEC coaches teleconference yesterday, Coach Miles did his best to keep the focus on this weekend’s regular season finale against Texas A&M. He said he has not spoken to Athletic Director Joe Alleva since last Sunday and declined to defend or make a case for himself, saying only “I love the place. I'm going to work hard. I’m not going to get into what is my view.” With today being Thanksgiving, I am going to kind of play my hand similarly and instead of spending too much time speculating about Les Miles’ future, all I’ll say at the moment is this: I think Joe Alleva’s silence in this matter is very telling. If the wheels were not already in motion to replace Les Miles, I would like to think Alleva would have already come out and shown his support of a coach that has given 11 years of his life to the betterment of LSU football. I could say more, but out of respect for all parties involved, and for this special day, I will simply say that right now all signs point to big changes coming our way in the very near future.
Signs of change were never more evident than in last night’s Les Miles Radio show, and man, what it an emotional show it was. I’ve got to admit, it really tugged at my heartstrings for several reasons: 1) The distinct possibility of it being Les Miles’ last show; 2) The realization that it was Jim Hawthorne’s last regular season show; and 3) The memories it brought back of the first time I wrote the recap for my Dad from the lobby of MD Anderson as he received chemotherapy a few doors down. I remember sitting at my father’s bedside, waiting for the nurse to come back to administer his next shot, when Dad looked up at the clock and said, “It’s 7:00. Time for the Les Miles show.” I regarded him inquisitively, as if to say, “what are we going to do about that?” His answer was an affirming nod toward the door, one that said, “Go ahead. You can do it.” I walked out to the lobby with my laptop and earbuds to give it my best shot, and before the show was over I noticed him standing over my shoulder watching with an approving smile as I typed away. In the nearly four years since that time, I’ve recapped every one of Les Miles’ shows except two - once when a family obligation didn’t allow, and last night when I was visiting with family who have come in to celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead of taking notes throughout the broadcast as I usually do, my brother and I sat and listened to the show together, and I’m really thankful that I didn’t miss what turned out to be a touching tribute to Les Miles. For those of you who did miss it, don’t worry. Mark, my assistant, volunteered to recap the show for me, and you can find his very thorough write-up below.
Les Miles Show - November 25, 2015
Coach Miles began the show by noting that there is lots to be thankful for - his coaches, the great community, and especially the great players. He noted his team is a little heartsick over the recent losses,and said they would like to see the stadium filled this Saturday for what will be fifteen seniors’ final game.
The first caller of the night was Ron from Kenner who thanked Miles for all the wonderful memories. Ron then asked why Coach Miles would run the same play six straight times and why Brandon Harris was having problems getting plays in. Miles said they’ve never run a play six straight times, but noted if they can get good yards out of a play consistently, they will run it until the opponent adjusts. Regarding Harris’ trouble getting plays in, there was a 3rd and 8 where they committed a penalty and Ole Miss used some of the clock deciding whether to accept the penalty. Miles felt they should have had that time back. Harris signaled for a timeout at the last second, but the referee failed to see it.
Ricky from Birmingham called and said reports of Miles’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. He then asked if the problems with the line are related to technique or strength. Miles said the guys are strong and capable. It’s an issue of youth.
A gentleman from Pineville congratulated Hawthorne on his retirement and said he has enjoyed listening to him for many years, then expressed his gratitude to Les Miles for all that he’s done and wished him the best of luck. The caller’s question was whether quick slants or bubble screens would help keep defenses from stacking the box against the run. Miles said they did run some slants for small gains and had a screen for a good gain, but two other screens didn’t go well. Miles noted they moved the football for 500 yards.
John asked if Miles tried to recruit Chad Kelly, and if not, why? Miles said Cam Cameron looked at Chad Kelly and liked him very much but didn’t have success in “making the connection.”
Kevin from Baton Rouge called and wanted to know whether we can showcase our wide receivers’ talent more and asked what the typical game day regiment is. Miles said he’d love to showcase the wide receivers’ talents more but weren’t able to have the type of success they wanted last week. Miles said the team typically sleeps in until 10, has chapel at 10:15, eats brunch at 11:30-11:45, meets as a team to go over specific game plan items, returns to their rooms to rest, has an early afternoon dinner, gets dressed, gets on the bus and goes down Victory Hill.
The next two callers gave very touching statements of gratitude to Coach Miles for all he’s done, but it was after those two that things really got emotional. Sadie, the young girl from Denton, Texas, who is almost always the first caller of the show, made a special trip down to Baton Rouge to be in the live audience this time. Many in the audience, and on the listening airwaves, were brought to tears when she began crying while asking Miles a question about the offense. Miles reached out for her, brought her onto the stage and answered her face-to-face.
Another regular on the show, The Big Ragoo, was next to take the mike and he also got choked up while telling Miles what a good man and class act he is. Ragoo then asked about the status of wide receiver Travin Dural. Miles said Dural’s leg snapped back and stretched his hamstring very significantly and required surgery. (It was noted earlier in yesterday’s report that Dural will require three months to fully recover).
Back to the phone lines, Brant from New Orleans told Coach he's an Ohio State grad but thinks Miles is a great coach and that it would be a big mistake to get rid of him. He also stated that the school should spend the $15 million buyout money on education instead. He then told Miles that if they don’t keep him, he should keep the money, retire, take his family around the world and have fun. Miles said it’s not in his nature to not do anything, and that vacations are not on his list.
Sidney from Baton Rouge called to express his anger for the way Miles has been treated through this whole affair and said the AD should “man up” and speak to Miles. He then said he hopes Miles is back next year, but if not, “thanks for everything.” Miles said it’s never been about the coach; it’s always about the players, making sure they showcase their talent, play defense, offense and special teams and do the other things they’re supposed to do. It’s about the team, the school, and this great opportunity.
Bradley from Kentwood noted he fell in love with LSU football the last 11 years with Miles as the coach and thanked him for being a great example. He added that Miles is on the “Mount Rushmore” of football coaches and appreciates everything he’s done. He asked Miles what he thinks about the renewed rivalry with A&M. Miles said he respects A&M and the rivalry, and that LSU better be ready to play.
Ben from Gonzales called to show his support and said Miles deserves at least one more year. He noted the adversity Miles had to face with unexpected travel to Arizona State in his first season after Hurricane Katrina and beating Miami in the bowl game that same year. He also noted that LSU is the only SEC team to beat Texas A&M every time since they joined the league, and implored Miles to beat them one more time. Miles ended that portion of the show with a very fitting line, saying, “that’s a great idea – beat them one more time.”
Say what you will about Les Miles, but he’s handled this whole ordeal with great class, and for that I am very thankful. Whatever may transpire in the next week, I hope the administration handles it likewise.
Since this is Thanksgiving Day, I hope you don’t mind if I cut this update short. It’s time for me to head to the kitchen and begin preparing for the big day. Thank you once again for your readership, and have a great day.