Scott Rabalais: After health scare, Les Miles seems like his old playfull, willful, unconventional self _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU head coach Les Miles holds a press conference after practice Monday. Miles went to the hospital after having a migraine.

Les Miles finally confirmed to the world who his starting quarterback will be Saturday against McNeese State, but he wouldn’t confirm whether he drove himself to the hospital Monday to get checked out after what reportedly was a migraine episode. Or that he even may have had a migraine episode. Or even that it was Monday.

In so many words, LSU’s playfully, willfully stubborn football coach is just fine.

Miles seemed and sounded like his old self as he met with the media after Monday’s practice, which was hours after he was supposed to address reporters to kick off LSU’s first game week.

“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” Miles said, pinching a line from that other great American humorist, Mark Twain.

Miles and everyone who follows LSU football can laugh now. But it was a surprisingly disturbing start to LSU’s fist game week, especially since LSU hastily called another news conference Friday to announce that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is recovering from a bout with prostate cancer.

At first you thought nothing of it that Miles was late for his first weekly media luncheon of the new season. There is Central Standard Time and there is Les Miles Time, and rarely the (Mark) Twain do meet.

But as the minutes dragged on, there began to be a sense something was amiss. Finally, after nearly an hour, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva took the podium where Miles usually stands to say that the coach was “under the weather” and that LSU trainers advised him to get checked out at a local hospital.

Immediately rumors and speculation started flying on social media. No doubt Miles’ health quickly became a trending topic. That’s how the news found senior right tackle Vadal Alexander in class.

“You see it on Twitter, Facebook, and you hear from the news sources that he’s OK,” Alexander said. “But then you hear from everybody else — your teammates and coaches say that he’s definitely OK and will be at practice today. You’re worried at first, but when you hear from everybody that he’s fine and will be at practice today, that’s definitely a relief. If it was anything serious, he would not be at practice.”

Miles blamed his health episode on too much coffee (something he said he mostly weaned himself off of in recent months) and the fact that he happened to feel queasy right in front of team trainer Jack Marucci.

It was Marucci and Miles’ secretary Ya’el Lofton who convinced him to get checked out. Miles drove himself to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center about 11 a.m., according to WBRZ’s Michael Cauble, but his wife Kathy Miles drove him back to the LSU football operations building about 2 p.m. after he was cleared to go back to work.

“I did participate in a drive,” said Miles, who puts the un in unconventional.

So it seems all’s well that ends well for Miles, though you do hope he is taking his health seriously. It’s hard to remember considering his personality and energy, but he’s 61. And this isn’t his first health scare since becoming a head coach.

In December 2001, shortly after completing his first season at Oklahoma State, Miles suffered from severe headaches after taking a morning run. It was found that he had a cyst on his brain that caused a buildup of fluid resulting in what was termed “increased intra-cranial pressure.”

On Dec. 24, 2001, Miles underwent surgery in Cleveland, near his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. He returned to his coaching duties shortly after Christmas.

It would have been amusing if Miles had returned from this latest episode and said that a he had an offensive epiphany.

“We’re going five wide!”

“We’re never going to huddle again!”

“The dive play is dead!”

Of course, that didn’t happen. It was enough that Miles finally made it official that Brandon Harris will be his starting quarterback. He said the sophomore and last year’s starter, junior Anthony Jennings, have both improved, but indicated Harris’ improvement has been more pronounced.

Maybe Miles has had an epiphany of sorts when it comes to his quarterbacks. It’s his default choice, as it would be for many coaches, to stick with experience. Jennings has 13 career starts in 22 games to one start for Harris in nine games. But clearly, at least for now, Miles is betting on the come.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.