Les Miles normally does not attend the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state championships to scout prospects.
If he does so, the LSU coach would burn one of his NCAA-limited in-home recruiting visits. He likes to save those for late in the recruiting season, when a last push is needed.
On Thursday, Miles can attend the event without wasting an in-home visit because he’s a father to a participant.
Manny Miles, the coach’s son, is the quarterback for University High, which plays John Curtis at 4:30 p.m. in the Division II title game.
“This year, because of my status being the father, I’m allowed to sit and watch at least one of those games. Get in there early enough to get my seat,” a smiling Miles said, as if he might catch some of the prospects playing in the earlier game.
Manny Miles has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season in leading the Cubs (13-0) to their first state championship appearance since 1990.
Don’t think dad’s not excited to see his son and the host of high profile recruits involved in the game.
Five-star John Curtis receiver Malachi Dupre is ranked by Rivals.com and Scout.com as the No. 1 receiver in the nation in this recruiting class, and John Curtis linebacker Kenny Young is a four-star recruit ranked in the top 10 in the nation among inside linebackers.
LSU has offers out to both uncommitted players.
Garrett Brumfield, a four-star University High offensive lineman, is an LSU commit.
So, while Miles is there as a father, he might slip in some evaluation. He won’t do it from a suite, either. Miles said he’ll be among the crowd in normal seating at the Superdome.
“In the position I’m in, you have reasons to admire both teams. I really do,” Miles said. “John Curtis is a historically great Louisiana school and there’s some good players on that team that LSU can recruit and will.
“There’s a very talented U-High team there. There’s some players that we could recruit and will and then there’s somebody that you kind of grew up with,” he said referencing Manny with a laugh.
When Nick Saban returned to college football in 2007 at Alabama, Miles reached into the film archives and watched video of Saban’s teams at LSU to get a grasp on the scheme and style of his new SEC Western Division rival.
One game he watched: the 2005 Capital One Bowl against Iowa, No. 14 LSU’s opponent in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.
LSU lost that game on Hawkeyes quarterback Drew Tate’s 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway as time expired. Hours later, Miles was hired to replace a departing Saban, who left to take over the Miami Dolphins.
“When he came back to college, I studied that game because that was the last game he had here and I wanted to see the similarities, what he did here and what he would do at Alabama,” Miles said.
LSU has beaten Alabama more times in Saban’s tenure than any other team.
So did it help?
“It confirmed a lot of things,” Miles said.
Been there before
The Outback Bowl isn’t new to Miles.
When No. 14 LSU (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) meets unranked Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) in Tampa, Fla., on New Year’s Day, it will be Miles’ third Outback Bowl.
He’s 2-0 in the game.
As a Michigan assistant, Miles coached in the Outback Bowl, then called the Hall of Fame Bowl, following the 1987 and 1993 seasons.
Michigan’s 28-24 win over Alabama in the 1988 game was one of the bowl’s most memorable matches. Miles was in the first year of his second stint as Michigan’s offensive line coach.
Michigan led 21-3 with five minutes left in the third quarter before Alabama rallied to take a 24-21 lead. With 48 ticks on the clock, Michigan completed the game-winner — a 20-yard TD pass from John Kolesar to Demetrius Brown.
Miles remembers the details, down to the Tide’s defensive call.
“They played a double eagle cover zero,” Miles said.
Michigan beat NC State 42-7 in the game following the 1993 season.
LSU will begin bowl practice Monday and Miles plans on following his normal approach: starters vs. starters.
The first-string offense and defense will clash during the first few bowl practices before the team installs Iowa game plans, the coach said.
It’s a plan Miles has previously used.
“We’ve always done a good versus good to get the speed of the game up,” Miles said. “(We’re) not necessarily going to practice against the specifics of Iowa. Getting our legs back underneath us. That’s always been the fastest way for us to get back. Then kind of … institute the piece of the Iowa game plan.”
Bowl practices are expected to be closed to media and fans.