On a day when the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country both lost, LSU football coach Les Miles managed to become a featured player on national highlight programs Saturday.
Miles, who has provided memorable sound bites from time to time, became extremely animated in his press conference after the Tigers’ come-from-behind 41-35 victory against Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium. He seemed irked by coverage leading up to what was the final home game for the LSU seniors, including wide receiver Russell Shepard, whose career statistics haven’t matched the lofty expectations that accompanied him as one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country four years ago.
About two minutes into his opening remarks, Miles talked about his seniors, his voice rising throughout the two-minute speech:
“It was senior night. I’ve got to tell you something. I went to the field with 16, 17 seniors, and every one of them’s contribution to our team is noteworthy. Every one of them. There’s not a guy in that list of men who hadn’t had a great career, who hadn’t given tremendous effort and energy to his team, that in fact played a lot of football and made plays today and made plays right on through his career, whether he’s a scout-team player, or a guy that plays sparingly, or a guy that was highly recruited and played his butt off and gave us leadership and is getting his degree, and whose contribution was very, very significant, and will be for the next two games.
“I want you to know something. It would be said about my career at Michigan — it was a flop. I underplayed my own expectations. My head coach probably would have told me, ‘You overplayed your physical limitations.’ My point to you is there is no such thing as a flop that takes the field for our football team. Just so you know.
“I’m proud of those men. How (expletive deleted) easy it would have been to say, ‘It’s (Ole Miss’) night.’ How (expletive deleted) easy. Excuse my language. Spectacular group of men. You go find them, throw your arms around them and you give them a big kiss on the mouth — if you’re a girl.”
Miles then paused, smiled and exclaimed, “Wow, what a game!”
The second question to Miles was, “Coach, what’s got you so fired up about your seniors?”
Miles: “Well, you know, here’s the thing that a coach does. He asks them to work hard. He says to them that if you work hard, that you will have a reward in victory, because they believe in that. Unfortunately, the reason I stand before you today is because if they don’t, I’m gone. I’m another guy. I’m in the crowd. I’m just another guy. They believe in team, they believe in their school and they believe in each other, and that’s what got me fired up, and this is the last time that they get to play (in Tiger Stadium).”