Former LSU coach Les Miles believes that running back Leonard Fournette would play in the Citrus Bowl if he were healthy enough, and he thinks Fournette should have been allowed to play in the game if he wanted to play.
Miles spoke on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday morning, mostly offering his opinion on Fournette missing the game against Louisville on Dec. 31. Fournette announced last week that he would not play in the game because of an injured left ankle, a decision, he said, that coach Ed Orgeron and him made together.
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Fournette signed with an agency, Roc Nation Sports, on Monday, eliminating his amateurism. He's no longer part of the football program, and he cannot travel with the team to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
"I would want to know exactly what’s going on," Miles said. "If Leonard came and said, ‘I should really not play' or if the doctor who treats Leonard says, ‘He’s 70 percent’ or ‘He’s 80 percent’ or ‘He’s really not as a good as he should be,' maybe it’s a wise position to take to put him on the sideline and put him in a position he needs to know, the team knows now that we’re not going to play him.
"Certainly," Miles continued, "if Leonard was healthy, I don’t think there would be any question in his heart that he’d want to play his last college game with his teammates, wear the purple and gold and enjoy taking the field with his lifetime friends."
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Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, like Fournette a highly ranked draft-eligible junior, announced Monday that he would be skipping the Cardinal's bowl game "so I can begin my draft prep immediately," he wrote in a tweet.
McCaffrey's decision triggered a national debate on the subject. National pundits lumped in Fournette, too, especially after he signed with an agent two weeks before the Tigers' bowl game.
"This is not an easy position, certainly not for Leonard, certainly not Christian McCaffrey," Miles said. "Those people who are advising ... 'You have to be careful not to be injured.' Certainly, there are advisers that are saying that. To some degree, if that ankle is banged up and they don’t have the ability to play as well as they’re capable, to not protect themselves, then they need to be removed. But if they, the player says, ‘No, I’m good. I’m ready to play,' ..."
Fournette's parents took out two $10 million insurance policies in the spring, covering their son's draft value in case he was seriously injured.
Leonard Fournette took his first significant step into professional sports, signing with an …
Miles, fired from LSU on Sept. 25 after 11-plus seasons, continues to search for head coaching jobs. There are no open Football Bowl Subdivision openings at the moment, something Miles joked about when Patrick asked him about the probability of him landing something.
"Not in the next week," he said.
Miles, 63, has not ruled out a potential career change in joining ESPN as a television analyst.
"There's nothing off the table," Miles told Patrick.
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