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Note: The video attached is some memorable sound bites given by Miles over the years.
I consider it the low point of my broadcasting career.
Nearly six years ago at a Les Miles Monday news luncheon, following a pretty fortunate 16-14 LSU win over Tennessee in Tiger Stadium, I started rambling into a microphone. It was unprofessional and embarrassing.
All the feedback we were receiving from LSU fans following the Tigers' manna-from-heaven triumph was they were sick of Coach Miles, his lucky wins and his lack of organization and clock management. And, after what I considered to be a bunch of softball questions from the room, attempted to relay the message to the coach.
It wasn't cool. This was a professional setting, not a bar. And honestly, pretty out of character for me. I wasn't that guy. But on this day, I lost my cool. I said things about "blind luck" and what not. I'd rather not remember it at all.
Immediately, I apologized that afternoon. But it was far too early for anyone in the LSU camp to be accepting apologies. You can't retrieve words once they've been launched from your mouth. The funny thing is I received a large amount of email from LSU fans thanking me. They thought it was about time someone did such a thing. But it was low-hanging fruit and lame. Our job is to get sound bites and content stories, not pretend to pump up some questionable crowd on the Maury Povich Show.
What makes it hilarious is that many of the same people who believed Miles' feet should be held to the fire were then circling back to the incident a year later when LSU was 13-0 and SEC champs, saying "I can't believe you disrespected our coach like that."
And that was the relationship between Les Miles and the fans. It often seemed like a see-saw between love and disdain, one that elevated or fell with each performance that Saturday. The good times obviously avalanched the bad over Miles' 11 years and change, yet some folks were always shaking their heads and simply disagreed with the man's philosophies and LSU's often uneven performances.
Coach Miles and I got past that day. A week or so later, we spoke face-to-face. In a true reflection of the man, Miles basically told me he didn't give a darn about what was said. He just didn't want his team hearing that stuff.
It was always about the team.
Les Miles did many live shots and one-on-one interviews with us following that not-so-great Oct. 4, 2010 newser. Last year, when my father had emergency heart surgery and needed a quadruple bypass, Coach Miles wished him well on his weekly radio show from TJ Ribs. When dad finally made it back to Tiger Stadium for his first LSU game in over a year just recently, I let Miles know on the field a couple hours before kickoff.
"That's great," he smiled.
People are important to Les Miles. Former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is considered by many people to be someone who really sent Miles' career off track. Perrilloux couldn't stay out of trouble, was kicked off the team and caused the Tigers major QB issues in 2008 and beyond. But Coach Miles made the effort to land Perrilloux at Jacksonville State, where he thrived. He called to check on him. And when Miles saw Perrilloux at a 7-on-7 camp this past summer, coaching with his high school alma mater East St John, Miles approached him smiling ear to ear. Miles shook his hand, hugged him and told Perrilloux how great it was to see him doing well.
Some fans STILL hold a grudge against Perrilloux. For Miles, it's nowhere near his thought process. Just so you know, he's not really a grudge guy.
I learned a lot from that news conference years back, especially when it comes to asking questions, tone and displaying the right temperament. It's our job to ask the questions that you, the fans, have on your mind. And while Miles often didn't answer those questions the way people wanted, he often did so to protect his players. And it was once in a blue moon that Miles displayed any anger or hostility towards a reporter. It had to be really bad.
Like that moron at his news conference about six years ago.
In closing, I firmly believe Les Miles will be remembered as one of the most revered figures in the history of LSU athletics. Coaches are like presidents - their popularity seems to double once their time is up. Many of the most exciting moments and greatest moments in the football program's history transpired during the Les Miles era. But eventually, no matter who you are, things get stale.
It was time for a change.
But no matter what, Coach Miles, that 2007 national championship is yours. And quite honestly, that 2011 team was even better - amazing, quite frankly. You finished in the Top 10 five times and won a pair of SEC championships and played for another. Your players loved you and played passionately for you each week.
But above all, I respect you, the man. Thank you for your class, dignity and the countless entertaining and hysterical sound bites you gave us. In a world that takes itself way too seriously, you never did. Whatever happens at LSU from this point forward, you will without a doubt be missed.
Thank you, Coach Miles.