Sometimes the best thing to do is just be.
Sometimes the best path to take is not to take a step away from where you are.
Monday was supposed to be Les Miles' day up in Bristol, Connecticut, one of several Southeastern Conference football coaches taking part in ESPN's annual "Car Wash." It's a day of interviews on a wide variety of ESPN platforms about the upcoming season.
Instead of sitting in with "Mike & Mike" or on the "SportsCenter" set or chatting up one of his avowed rooters in the media, Scott Van Pelt, Miles decided to stay home. The senseless shootings Sunday that left three Baton Rouge law enforcement officials dead and three wounded grounded him.
As has been said in this column before, being grounded in the aftermath of tragedies like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Alton Sterling shooting have shown Miles at his best.
He still visited with ESPN, but from the small remote studio in LSU’s athletic administration building that each SEC school built two years ago for the SEC Network. And for times like this. It was from there that Miles properly expressed his sentiments and those of a shocked and grieving community, including the interaction slain BRPD officer Montrell Jackson had with Miles and his family. Such a joy to be around, Miles said of Jackson.
"The community is heart sick over the loss of three fine civil servants," Miles said in a brief "SportsCenter" appearance Monday afternoon. "I wanted to be around my players. We have several players who have law enforcement fathers. I wanted them to see me in the weight room, our study area and on campus.”
You can argue Miles should have gone to Bristol anyway, where his voice could have brought even more national attention to the anguish we're all experiencing here.
But I think it was the right decision for Miles to punt on his annual trip. His day at ESPN would have included more expansive talk about the shootings and the mood in Baton Rouge, of course. But it would have also included a lot of talk about Leonard Fournette's Heisman bid and Brandon Harris' quarterbacking and Dave Aranda's new defense.
What if one of those Football 101 talks on one of the ESPN platforms had fallen at the same time local and state officials were conducting their major news conference Monday afternoon to provide updates on the shootings? How out of touch would Miles have looked?
Those are important topics and hopefully, one day soon, we'll be able to break out of the cycle of violence and dire headlines that we seem to be stuck in like a bad case of déjà vu and talk the football talk again. It will seem like a welcome release then, like the first morning in autumn that a puff of cool air finds its way to the bayou.
But Monday was not the day. Monday was about remembering the fallen, heroes in our midst, not taking attention away from their sacrifice in any way to talk about grown young men playing games.
Once again Miles, who we've all poked fun at for his way of speaking and sometimes goofy antics, struck the right tone. Just like he did Thursday at SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, where he was speaking eloquently in the wake of the Alton Sterling shooting.
Les Miles probably has the most important unimportant job in Baton Rouge. He doesn’t have to make the tough cuts to balance the state budget. He doesn’t have to stand in surgery and try to repair a bullet-violated body. And like most of us, he doesn’t have to leave home every day for a job when every day his life is on the line.
A native Ohioan and a Michigan man, Miles is one of our transplants. But Monday, he did a great job speaking to the nation on our behalf, even if just briefly.
Sometimes the best thing to do is just show up and say, “my place is here.”