July 29, 2005
LES MILES: We had a nice spring. Felt like it was very productive. I felt like the introduction to the team and the coaching staff went well. Enjoyed very much getting around the State of Louisiana and meeting the people that support our program, a number of alumni functions. Really gave me an impression that there's a very special past that surrounds LSU Football. I think the summer has gone well for our to the football team. I think we're in great shape. I think that we look forward to reporting August 6th and developing and building a team that will pursue championships. Questions.
Q. Talk about your coming into a program and already they are not only picked to win the division but some people picked you to be in the National Championship game?
LES MILES: I never really paid much attention to polls and pre-season predictions. I think it's a compliment to the talent that's on our team. I don't think talent in and of itself is the reason why you win championships. I don't think that that will determine where we finish. It will be a character and style and chemistry that's developed through a season at LSU that will determine where we finish. Some people pick us in a position where it is a compliment and some people pick us in the position where we certainly aspire to finish higher. So I am not big on polls and predictions.
Q. Wondering how many things you have learned with your trips around Louisiana?
LES MILES: It was designed for the people to get to know me where in reality it was much more informative to me. I felt that virtually at every stop that there was a very strong loyal and passionate group of people about LSU football. I am very proud and honored and certainly respectful of the opportunity to represent LSU.
Q. Talk about how this job is different taking other than when you went to Oklahoma State and how you rebuilt that program? Do you do anything differently?
LES MILES: The process, the physical process is the same. The feeling of great expectations are enjoyed. The fact that we have some talent, the fact that this football team comes in expecting to achieve, certainly that's what we want. That's what any coach would want. So I enjoy that. There's some activity that I don't have to entertain. I don't have to convince anybody. We understand that if we do the things that we're capable of doing that we have a chance to have a special season. That's an advantage to LSU.
Q. Twofold question to follow-up on that, what is it like to arrive at a place where the cupboard is so full up and down the roster and then specifically how important is the quarterback situation that you are facing in terms of a decision?
LES MILES: Here's three spots where the cupboard needs a little improvement for us to do the things that we need to accomplish. One of them is on offense, one of them is on defense and one is special teams. Every coach sees its team, its strengths and its weaknesses. Certainly we need to improve to be the best team that we can be. But certainly there is talent and that's enjoyed. I don't think that there will be limitations based on talent; it will be limitations on other variables.
Q. You have got a couple of coordinators, Jimbo Fisher, veteran in the SEC and you picked up Bo Pelini; talk about them?
LES MILES: Both guys are great additions to our staff and certainly Jimbo comes in with great experience in the SEC and understands LSU and the talent and the people, the personnel that were there and has ability of himself. Bo Pelini comes from with a great background in the NFL and understands the trial and structure of defense that we need to play at LSU. Most recent stops from Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Q. So much focus on the quarterback. Is it Russell's job initially or how do you see the three guys in particular?
LES MILES: The competition is JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn to start. We'll let them come in two days and compete and they will get the first opportunities. Our third quarterback on campus, our third quarterback on scholarship is Ryan Perrilloux. He will come in. He will get reps, certainly he will have to you know, he comes from the disadvantage of not being there and not necessarily understanding the system. But very capable. I think we will find that we will approach our game week and our game days and determine who our starter is and at that point in time we'd like to go with one guy from that point forward.
Q. Can you give us an update on the status of Shawn Jordan and pit number chase?
LES MILES: Shawn Jordan has rejoined the team and has sustained some discipline by the team and by myself but he's back on board and doing the right things. We have reviewed that situation very thoroughly. We looked at his background and we really feel like it's an isolated incident and not one that will repeat itself. So he has rejoined the team. Chase Pittman, it appears to me that this thing will revolve itself in the near future. That this was an unfortunate set of circumstances, one in which certainly Chase would love to redo, but I think that the legal proceedings are still underway and I certainly would not want to prejudice those at all. So we're going to see how that flies and how that finishes and recommend an opportunity for him to rejoin the team based on how that all goes.
Q. Can you pinpoint a specific moment where you realized just how great the expectations were coming into this program?
LES MILES: Not really. It's so common place. I think I spoke on Wednesday night and I got in the car as they took me to the opportunity to speak and guy talked about nine wins and then at the podium somebody mentioned 10 or 11, then a guy said, well, you know, 12 victories is probably just what we'd like, coach. I said, well, you know, frankly there's one left. So I think the expectations are kind of uniform. We'd like to win and certainly that's what we will pursue.
Q. How do you deal with the questioning that comes up about Nick Saban and his kind of legacy and your place in kind of stepping in?
LES MILES: Well, certainly one of the reasons that I enjoy the opportunity at LSU is because of the success that Coach Saban had. The program is in great shape. There's arguably maybe no finer football program in the country being run. I enjoy the fact of two SEC championships, three Western Division Championships, two Sugar Bowls, 2003 National Championship, an annual bowl trip, that's what we would like to continue at LSU.
Q. Talk about the process of acclimating a team to a new coach, what goes into that, how do you earn that trust, or whatever word you want to put on it?
LES MILES: It takes some time. You don't manufacture it. It doesn't all come together, you know, early. I think the feel that a team gets from its coaching staff comes on the practice field and experiencing game days. I think that that's in front of us. I think the understanding of who the person is and that comes on a daily basis in being around the coach and, therefore, the coach being around the players. I think its gone well and I think that it will fit closer, tighter. The glove will fit tighter when we get to the season.
Q. You said you'd like to have a starter at quarterback, one guy whose job it is. Would you ever entertain any sort of rotation if it were close or you felt like Ryan was a guy or --
LES MILES: If there's an opportunity for a quarterback to give us a specific talent or specific piece of the offense, an advantage for our football team by his play, then certainly we would anticipate or we would then envision two quarterbacks. But I only know this: That if the quarterbacks are comparable, you would like to get your best quarterback every rep because as you train him, certainly and you go into the games, the number of times he's in situations is the best trainer. So we would like to have a starter certainly. But we're going to let that competition take place and we will look at really all three quarterbacks, certainly the older guys who have the advantage.
Q. Talk about your thoughts about the replay system being used by the SEC and as someone who worked in the NFL might you prefer the coach's challenge?
LES MILES: The coach's challenge, to me, is a quality addition. But there's a successiveness there. You come to a point where you say is it one flag, is it two flags, is it three flags, so the using of that mechanism can sometimes distract the game and extend the game and I think what we have done here in the SEC is the officials have been very gracious to understand that they will do anything to improve the game and they have -- when they went and studied the Big 10 model and I think that they reviewed 43 or 48 plays for the season. They overturned 23. That's really a small adjustment. But if that adjustment can mean the difference in winning and losing a game, rightfully, then I think that that improves the game, I think what we have done here is the right thing.
Q. Would you talk about some of the coaches who influenced you, through your NFL background and also in your college background?
LES MILES: I have been fortunate to work with a number of really great coaches, guys that were professional, had different feels for the game both as head coaches and as assistants. I think it's pretty safe to say that I was probably marked, you know, very quickly as a player by Coach Schembechler who coached me at Michigan. I probably have learned as much through the experience of playing for him and coaching for him as any and I can't tell you what I have learned because it's probably so engrained. I also was fortunate to be with Bill McCartney at Colorado and Coach McCartney had a great vision for where the program was going and really had a great handle on his team. I have maintained some contact there and enjoy the ability to visit with those guys from time to time. Those two are the absolute main two that I look back on that have affected me.
Q. Do you vote on the coach's poll?
LES MILES: I do.
Q. As a head coach is it feasible for you guys to see enough football outside your conference to give a fair evaluation, I would put the media in that category also?
LES MILES: I believe that it's -- I think the coaches do as good a job as anyone in giving a professional view of what they know. They don't know it all. They don't know the entire country. But I promise you, they know who they play in their region and those teams that they have seen on film are as good as anybody. And so certainly there are some regional bias, the bias that's within the poll, but I also think that there's responsibility that the coaches have to do a strong job that allows for a win possible, for them to see the country evenly and correctly. I think the coaches poll in my opinion, obviously I vote on it, is the best one. I think the variance within the coaches poll is an honest one and one that should take place over regional bias. I think the poll does that. The adjustment to the BCS. I don't know that that has been a real effective, you know, mechanism. I don't know that a poll off and a poll on, if that's going to make any difference. But I can tell you that I think the coaches poll is run well.
Q. One of the areas of your team that seems to be pretty loaded is running back. Could you talk about some of the backs and being as deep as you are there and then maybe also throw in the wide receivers as well, please.
LES MILES: The running backs Joseph Addai and Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent, for that matter, Shyrone Carey are very talented guys. They possess some different skills, different abilities, powerful and strong. We will certainly use all four of them and won't be shy to put a number of guys in the game because they are quality. I think we need a number of guys at that position. I think it is a very physical position, it is one that sustains contact on a regular basis and I think you are going to have to turn, hand the ball to somebody that's capable. At wide receiver. I think that Jimbo and Craig Davis, Scott Green, gives us a very talented receiver core, a group of them that can get down the field, make plays and have the experience to have played in big games in their career. So we look forward to both groups.
Q. How well did you know Nick Saban before you got in job? How well do you know him now? You guys talked about the fan base and the expectation that's come along with this?
LES MILES: I did not know Nick Saban before I took the job. I knew of him. I only know that the job that he's done here has been really a strong one. It's one that I really respect. I know that he is very loyal to LSU and would do anything that he can do to help us. I visit with him on just a couple of occasions and he has been very, very serving of LSU in those conversations.
Q. You played both Texas and Ohio State last year. They are meeting early this season. Since most of their people are back for those teams. What would be your early assessment for that match-up ?
LES MILES: Both clubs are really good football teams. Where do they meet?
LES MILES: (Laughs) Good luck. I am not playing, so. I don't know how they are going to do. I think they are both talented teams. It will be interesting to see how Texas responds on the road. I know those Ohio fans get after them.
Q. When you were with the Cowboys and when you were under Schembechler as a player, an assistant, did you ever see a player chewed out so much that he started crying?
LES MILES: (Laughs) I am certain that that's happened. It's been, you know -- I think any time a guy cares for the job that he's doing that you can hit a nerve, if he's a sensitive guy, you know, tears can come. I don't know. Have I seen it? I don't know that I have seen it but I am certain that it's happened. Boys will be boys, boys cry. (Laughter).
Q. All this talk about loaded cupboard. Wondering if you think that it's possible to have a loaded cupboard and have one guy on first team offense, one guy on first team defense pre-season all SEC teams?
LES MILES: Yeah, the pre-season -- again the pre-season awards are, again, compliments to the careers that they have had to this point and not necessarily reflective of how they will play. I think those young men that will have the opportunity to be on the post season, SEC team, I think if that's a personnel goal they will see that and understand that it is their play that will put them there. Certainly the two guys that were first team will also understand that.
Q. Looking at the defensive side of the ball, it's been such a strength of this team, I know that it may be hard for you to assess the loss of Marcus Spears who didn't coach him. What feel do you have of those guys being gone and what kind of a defense are you going to have this year?
LES MILES: I can tell you that Marcus Spears was a leader of our football team too and his void will not only be felt at a position on the field, but felt, the style of person that he is, I think that he honestly will be missed more than the plays that he made. Certainly we missed two corners that are very capable guys, but I think we will replace those people with good players and guys that will step in there and play for us. It's not necessarily the people that step in for Marcus Spears, or the two corners that we lost to the middle linebacker; it will be the other veteran players that will play big and take up the void that those great players left. I think Kyle Williams will have a spectacular year. I think we will find that Cameron Vaughan at linebacker will play well. I think our veteran safeties will play well. Those are the guys that are going to have to take up for, you know, the loss of very, very capable players. I think we have a defense that will do that.
Q. This summer when you watched some video of SEC games, can you compare and contrast the conference you were in before with the SEC?
LES MILES: I think this is a very athletic conference. I think they are a greater -- there are greater defenses. I think there are more explosive, talented offensive players. I think that there's a great even mix of cross teams. So I think it's as competitive a league as there is in the country and I am very, very excited to join in the weekly competition.
Q. There was some speculation soon after you were hired that Rudy Niswanger may leave early and go to medical school. Just want to get your impression when you have a player who has a proficiency at something outside of football and a level of expertise, has other options; does that tend to make a guy like that maybe mature and well rounded and maybe a leader?
LES MILES: We really had two with Andrew Whitworth deciding not to go to the NFL and Rudy Niswanger to postpone medical school. I think it's a compliment to LSU and compliment to the people that surround those young men. The fact that they postponed what could be their career path, what could be financial increase in lifestyle and all the things that come with money and the responsibility of a good paying career and a great job, to be a college guy again and stay and be around LSU and go to class. I think it really speaks to the experience that they have had here. I think it says that they have enjoyed their college career and that their families have allowed them support and enjoyed the fact that they stayed. I think that those are personal decisions. I think it's reflective of the experience that they have had on this campus.
Q. Coming from the Big 12 to the SEC, I know when we get to the two-a-days and the season you have got to take them one at a time. Before you had to focus on that, did you look up and down your schedule and see some places that were going to be new to and if so, did anything jump out at you that are looking forward to in terms of competing?
LES MILES: There are going to be a lot of places that are new to me including my home stadium. I have got to be honest with you, I look at the competition, I look at the teams that we're about to play and I am very respectful of that. I look forward to each game. I look forward to playing the great teams in this conference and in playing them with our best effort, playing them with the compliment of our greatest and finest effort.
Q. As you said earlier you have had to make yourself very open to the fans and to the media to get to know you, get to know them, everything. How much does your outlook, your focus change now? I assume once you are done here it's all practicing and getting ready for practice and the season, how much has it changed for you?
LES MILES: Well, this is kind of the wake-up call to the end of the summer. Guys, it's over with and we're fixing to report. It's football from this point forward. I look forward to it. In the last couple of weeks we had some office days where we were allowed to get into the football end of it and certainly that's kind of the fun part.
Q. It's clear you inherited a pretty talented team. Does it matter at all that you didn't personally recruit those players?
LES MILES: It doesn't matter to me. I am thrust with the position to represent LSU and to be the head coach and help the football team pursue a Championship. They are getting to know me and I am getting to know them and we're in this together, period. So it allows me to understand that I haven't been in their homes and that there's an opportunity for me to get to know them a little bit more -- in a quicker fashion. So certainly that's the intent.
Q. Could you describe your basic philosophies on offense and defense and what you will bring into LSU and how you have achieved success in your career basic beliefs and philosophies?
LES MILES: We'll be balanced, run and pass. I believe in a physical style of football. Both offensively and defensively. I think that we'll address turnover margin very regularly. I think that I look for the opportunity to have big plays and the ability to control the ball on the ground, a nice very efficient throwing game. On the defense I said want a structure similar to the one that we have had here in the past four down linemen, maybe mix some three-down linemen and throw in an extra backer. But you will see in getting comfortable with the same style of blitz package in the aggressive nature of defense. Again, we're going to look for takeaways and we're going to ball-hawk and create a culture in which that is a daily occurrence. Special teams we're going to give great emphasis there and we want to be the best special teams in the country. And we're pursuing that in length right now. So I think you will enjoy a very competitive brand of football and one that's exciting, but yet understands the risk reward of certain aspects of your football, so, I don't know if I answered your question.
Q. Do you expect to have all of your designees eligible or are there a couple that won't make it?
LES MILES: All of our designees to this point are on campus going to school and on scholarship, so everybody is in.
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