NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Les Miles-to-Michigan rumblings are officially over, but that doesn’t mean the LSU coach doesn’t have something to say about his alma mater’s hire.
The Wolverines will announce former player and ex-San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh as their coach Tuesday, according to multiple reports. Miles was asked about it Monday at a joint coaches news conference with Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly.
“I’m very happy Michigan has made a selection and a very quality coach, and it’s just a matter of time before they return to prominence,” Miles said before adding two more words: “Go Blue.”
Miles’ Tigers (8-4) meet Kelly’s Irish (7-5) on Tuesday in the Music City Bowl at LP Field without any doubts that he’ll be the coach at LSU next year.
Multiple outlets covering Michigan reported earlier this month that Miles’ agent was contacted by Wolverines officials about their job, and the school flirted with Miles in 2007 and 2010 when it had vacancies.
Miles shot down reports linking him to the job more than a week ago, telling reporters that he wasn’t considering it. But he refused to be directly quoted, leaving the door open for rumors of his possible departure.
Miles doesn’t have a working connection with Harbaugh, the Michigan QB from 1983 to ’86. Miles’ assistant coaching stint at Michigan began in 1987.
LSU and Notre Dame will meet Tuesday on a playing surface that’s expected to be better than the one the Tigers played on a few years ago in a bowl game.
LP Field has endured three straight days of rain, no sun and temperatures that have hovered in the 40s and 30s. In addition to that, the Tennessee Titans played the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday on the field.
The last thing Miles wants is a replay of the Capital One Bowl in 2010, when LSU lost 19-17 to Penn State on a sloppy, mud-covered field.
“The Capital One Bowl at the time was new sod and (there was) a torrential downpour. It was a mess,” he said. “This field is a pro venue, beautiful stadium. The center of the field is beautiful. Outside the hashes it’s somewhat skinned but very meshed. I asked the grounds crew how they fared with rain yesterday, and they said, ‘Not a slip.’ ”
LSU and Stanford
Kelly is expecting another Stanford when his Irish meet LSU. Kelly said the Tigers most mirror the Cardinal among Notre Dame’s 12 opponents this season — with some added speed.
“Certainly more skill from LSU on the perimeter and at the running back position,” Kelly said. “I think offensive line, defensive line, they present that physical toughness that a Stanford brings.”
Notre Dame beat Stanford 17-14 during the Irish’s sizzling start. Kelly’s club won its first six games before dropping five of its final six.
Braving the cold
LSU might play two of its coldest games in recent memory just a month apart.
The forecast for Tuesday in Nashville includes a high in the low 40s. By game’s end, it’s likely to be near freezing. LSU’s game at Arkansas on Nov. 15 was the second-coldest kickoff in LSU history — since such things were recorded.
The Tigers used sideline heaters and warm body lotion during that game. Will they have the lotion for this go-around?
“We just might. If it’s that cold, I’m pretty sure they’ll have it,” cornerback Jalen Collins said.
That old time religion
At LSU, football is like religion. At Notre Dame, football mixes with religion in a very real way.
Before every game, the team holds a Mass, at which players are given a priest-blessed medal devoted to a Catholic saint. Team members are also offered the chance to kiss a reliquary (a receptacle for keeping religious artifacts) that contains two splinters believed to have come from the cross of Christ.
Notre Dame in Louisiana
Louisiana in full of Catholics, but Kelly suggested Monday that they’re hard to pry out of the state.
Notre Dame has no players from Louisiana on its roster, but the Irish have one on the way. Offensive lineman Jerry Tillery, an Evangel product, has committed to Notre Dame. The four-star prospect is the fifth-best offensive tackle in the nation, according to 247Sports.
Still, it’s tough recruiting in a state mostly owned by LSU. Kelly said it’s tough to “find a school or home that doesn’t have purple.”
More than 60,000 tickets have been sold to the Music City Bowl, said Scott Ramsey, bowl president and CEO.
Both teams sold their 8,000-ticket allotment. LP Field holds about 67,000 spectators.