LSU players spent part of their Monday being interviewed by CBS Sports. ESPN will be broadcasting live from campus throughout the day Tuesday. Sports Illustrated, USA Today and the New York Times have been interviewing players and coaches since last week.
The same type of stuff is going on in Tuscaloosa, Ala., site of the game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.
The media demands of this week and even during last week’s open date are unprecedented for an LSU regular-season game and rival those for a Southeastern Conference Championship or a BCS Championship game.
“We tried to get as much of the big stuff as we could out of the way last week,” LSU associate athletic director/sports information Michael Bonnette said Monday. “We knew this week was going to be off the charts.”
In addition to head coach Les Miles, the most popular targets for interviews have been quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe and quarterback Jarrett Lee.
“We’re trying to keep it as routine as possible for the players,” Bonnette said.
Miles said he plans to minimize the media responsibilities for the players, which end on Tuesday during game weeks.
“I want our guys to continue doing what they have been doing,” Miles said. “I want them going out to practice wide-eyed, playing hard, having fun and playing as well as they are capable of.”
Punter Brad Wing fielded an interview request from the New York Times, which also interviewed Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jesse Williams, who like Wing is a native of Australia.
“It was crazy,” Wing said. “I told my mom that the New York Times wanted an interview, and she said, ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe it, either. It’s just crazy.”
Engaging bye week
Guard Will Blackwell took advantage of the free time during the off week to turn his girlfriend, Laura Cummings, into his fiancée.
“I just got engaged Friday,” Blackwell said. “We got the engagement out the way, and that’s behind me. I’m ready for this week and the test of Alabama. I wanted to do it during the bye week, so I didn’t have any games to worry about or anything like that.”
Blackwell said he “wasn’t too romantic” when he popped the question. When asked if there was more pressure involved with the engagement or the upcoming game, he said, “I would say both. They’re right there on par.”
In addition to trying to minimize the amount of time players spend doing interviews this week, Miles is trying to eliminate any bulletin board material that could surface on Twitter.
“Coach Miles wants everyone to stay off of there,” safety Brandon Taylor said. “We had a meeting the other day and addressed it. He just told us to stay away from it, because it won’t win us any games. So we shouldn’t be doing it. It’s just a distraction.”
Miles pretty much steers clear of Twitter.
“I think these games are played in between the white lines,” he said. “It is overly important not to spoil an opportunity. Our guys have been guided along those lines as we approach this game. To be honest, I told them that we needed no Twitter personalities in this game. We want to as a team honor this opponent and play with our very best effort.”
A pair of tickets to the LSU-Alabama game will be given away at halftime of the LSU women’s basketball exhibition game against Xavier (New Orleans), which tips off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Fans must wear LSU apparel to the game to qualify for the two tickets. A select few of those fans will be chosen to participate in a halftime dance-off promotion where one fan will then be selected as the winner for the ultimate prize.
No media darling
Miles said he never had to worry about interview requests when he played at Michigan even though the Wolverines played a lot of big games.
“No one wanted to interview me when I was playing. Are you kidding me?” he said with a laugh. “Did you check my career? I traveled and played. They didn’t need to talk to me. I wasn’t nearly as articulate as (LSU wide receiver) Russell Shepard or nearly as a capable as (offensive lineman) T-Bob Hebert. I was a team guy that wanted to contribute. They didn’t really ask me my opinion. I would’ve given it to them.”
No one missing
Miles, who has been coy about the status of defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware, was asked pointedly about their availability for Saturday’s game.
“There will be no players withheld from this game,” he said. “They will be allowed to come to the field and play when capable. There is no one on this team that is suspended.”
The trio was held out of the Tigers’ last game — a 45-10 victory against Auburn two weeks ago — for violating an unspecified team rule. Numerous media outlets have reported that they tested positive for a banned substance.
Miles said the players would return to their former spots on the depth chart. Mathieu has been the team’s top defensive playmaker, Simon backs him up and Ware is the team’s leading rusher.