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December 1, 2007

Darry Beckwith

Les Miles

Ryan Perrilloux

Jonathan Zenon


THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with LSU. We're going to ask Coach Miles for some opening comments on the game, and then we'll take questions again just for the players and then we'll excuse them back to the locker room and continue on with Coach Miles.
COACH MILES: First I'd like to congratulate Tennessee on a great year, a very competitive game. They're a tremendously physical football team, offense and defense. I thought they played extremely hard today. Very, very worthy opponent.
I want to congratulate my team. They overcame adversity, injury, and in my opinion played a very, very strong game, did the things that they had to do to win and managed the game. I'm very proud. I'm very proud of this football team.
THE MODERATOR: Just a reminder, Ryan Perrilloux was named Most Valuable Player.

Q. Ryan, talk about the finger and the blood and how that all came about.
RYAN PERRILLOUX: Well, on the interception that I threw, I hit my finger on a helmet and split my finger real bad. But we just taped it up and kept on pushing, just kept on working.

Q. When you knew you were going to get the starting role and play significant minutes, just talk about your preparation, and Coach said it earlier in the week, trying to get you to do things you're capable of doing. It looked like you maybe made one mistake, but played with poise and led this team.
RYAN PERRILLOUX: Well, Coach always prepares each player like they're going to play. We just tried to execute the game plan that was at hand and get the victory, and basically it was a team effort as far as us just coming out and executing on all three phases.

Q. Can you talk about what this game specifically means to you. You've had some ups and downs. Obviously this will be your high point at LSU?
RYAN PERRILLOUX: It was a great feeling to be part of an SEC Championship team. It's definitely an honor just to be a part of this and share this with the guys that I see every day, and I'm just excited to be a part of this with them and with Coach.

Q. Jonathan, take us through the interception that put you guys ahead for good. What did you see on that play? How did it develop for you?
JONATHAN ZENON: Basically I seen those type of routes maybe like four or five times throughout the week. Our coach gave us great preparation. They gave us great schemes. Basically when I seen the formation, I knew exactly what they was going to run, and I had an opportunity to jump in front of the ball exactly when I did.

Q. I noticed a lot during the game on the sideline you were talking to Matt Flynn a lot. Can you talk about maybe the effect he had on you, the calming effect or what he tried to tell you?
RYAN PERRILLOUX: Matt Flynn is a great leader. He knew he wasn't going to be able to play today due to problems, but basically he just kept me calm, talked to me, made sure I was okay, kept my head level. Matt is just a great person to be around and a great person to learn from.

Q. This question is for Darry: You guys aren't sure who you're going to play just yet in BCS games. Y'all have an outside chance to play in the national title game, but talk about playing Hawaii if you go to the Sugar Bowl?
DARRY BECKWITH: I thought they were a great team with a great quarterback. I think we're going to not worry about who we play next and celebrate this game. We're going to celebrate this moment and continue to play better and get ready and come hard.

Q. For Ryan and Jonathan, can you talk about the distractions that there were before the game, or if they were distractions. And did you guys feel like you were out there playing for your coach or for anything beyond an SEC Championship?
RYAN PERRILLOUX: Everything we do we play for each other. We're all about team at LSU. We're all about each other. Everything we do is about us. We don't let outside distractions get inside our family. We just keep working and keep pressing forward and continue to get better.
JONATHAN ZENON: I think Ryan said it perfectly. Basically that's our number one rule on our team is play for ourselves. We play for the coaches, we play for the fans, basically like he said, no distractions on us. When we're on the field, we're playing football. That's all we're doing is playing football.

Q. Jonathan, describe your emotion on that interception. And also, did you think that was going to be the winner?
JONATHAN ZENON: Anything could have been a winner. Basically I think Darry's interception sealed the game for us. Just going out and doing the things that we do through practice, we've got to carry over to the game, and coaches gave us great preparation, and that's exactly what we did. We took everything we learned throughout the week to the game and tried to be successful.

Q. Jonathan, it looked like you guys switched coverages when they were making their audible call. And for Darry, can you talk about your interception and coming across and reading his guys?
DARRY BECKWITH: Well, basically it was in a cover four alignment, and my key was the running back. Usually when he flares out, I have to look for first inside, and he flared out, and the No. 2 receiver flared behind me running a spot route, and I just jumped right in front of it.
JONATHAN ZENON: Basically we did a lot of disguises, like we showed soft man but it was a hard man. Making sure he don't understand what coverage we ran. That's what we did, we gave him all kinds of disguises, and he couldn't pick up what kind of defense we were in.

Q. Darry, this senior class, they've accomplished a lot, and obviously this is a big reward for them, but obviously a lot of those guys were hurt and watching from the sidelines. Talk about the young guys that stepped in and made some plays in their absence. And obviously you guys have already alluded to the team aspect and the young guys contributing to that.
DARRY BECKWITH: We did a great job for this victory. Perrilloux came in and played hard tonight. The opportunity presented itself and he played well. Guys came up and stepped up and we knew we had a championship. A lot of teams can't call themselves champions, and we can call ourselves champions tonight.

Q. Ryan, since you hadn't played a lot this season, were you overanxious or anything going into the game, or just a little nervous?
RYAN PERRILLOUX: The adrenaline definitely was flowing, but the coaches, they just stayed calm, we prepared well, I felt like I prepared well, and we just came out and just executed. I just did whatever Coach asked me to do.

Q. This is for Darry: Your defense this year has not made a lot of stops in the red zone. Talk about that. Talk about the pressure your team was under in that last few seconds and what you felt you learned throughout the year to give you the chance to make that play.
DARRY BECKWITH: I think it's the character in the group of guys we have on the football team. Before the game Coach Pelini told us that a champion is not measured by its failure, but how he overcomes that failure and continues to work hard, and I think that's what we did. When we got in a tight situation we came together as a team and did our assignments. If it wasn't for the team doing their assignments, we wouldn't have made the interceptions. So everybody did their jobs tonight and fortunately we came out with a victory.

Q. Ryan, Coach had to address an issue this morning of a false report. For you as a sophomore, you coming back, what did it mean to hear Coach Miles say basically what he said, that he's your coach for the rest of your career, and obviously he said to the team he's going to be the coach at LSU for a long time?
RYAN PERRILLOUX: Well, it's definitely good to hear things like that. We know Coach is here with us, and we know Coach has been sticking by us from the beginning. And for Coach to say that, that definitely put ease on a lot of people's minds and hearts. We just went out and played for Coach and Coach coached for us, and we won as a team, SEC champs.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue on with questions for Coach Miles.

Q. Coach, you were so adamant about your speech this afternoon before the game started. A bunch of us just talked to your chancellor and asked him if he was confident you were coming back, and he said he's not confident, he is certain that you're coming back. You still left a little bit of wiggle room --
COACH MILES: There's no wiggle room. I just want you to know. It's very difficult for me to take another job if I'm not talking to anybody, and I said that. I'm very fortunate to represent LSU. It's a great place. It's got everything. My family is happy. They said they want me. Chancellor said they want me. We've got great support, more supervisors have done anything that we need, give us every opportunity for victory.
It's a very special place. I'm glad to be home.

Q. After the penalty in the fourth they brought up 3rd and 15 and you mouthed the word "poise." You said "poise" a few times. Is that an attribute you like your guys to possess when you're in a tough battle like today?
COACH MILES: Well, the key to situations in the game is being able to manage them and not let the position on the field create any more pressure than the play that's called, just execute the play that's called. That's kind of what I was telling them. I was saying, okay, guys, just a piece of the field. It's not any different. Relax and play.
I think the offensive coaches did a nice job managing that situation, and certainly you make a mistake down there, it's points. We're fortunate that the quarterback did the things we asked him to do there.

Q. A couple games going on right now that are going to determine you guys' Bowl fate. If brings break away do you feel this team has made its case tonight for a shot at the national title?
COACH MILES: Well, I don't exactly know how votes will go, but we're the champions of the finest conference in America. We played Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida. I challenge any other team in America to go through this conference and come out unscathed.
You look at the losses, and these were triple-overtime losses in a format that decides a winner, certainly a fair format, but not necessarily the mark of -- you don't necessarily know if you would have redone it that that would have been the turnout.
You know, you lose players -- at the beginning of the year we played a very talented Virginia Tech team, we lose early, and we just keep right on going. We went into an overtime time when we played 95 plays on defense, and about that many on offense, and the next week we played Auburn, and Auburn, a tremendously talented team, finds a way to win.
So you're looking at a team that will overcome adversity. Tonight we played without an All-American defensive tackle, we played with our second team quarterback, and we're a very talented team. We stand at the top of the finest conference in America. I'm prejudiced, but that's how it appears to me. We'd like any opportunity. We'll get a quarterback back that's extremely talented, we'll get a defensive lineman back, and we're going to return to health. I'd line up against anybody and look forward to the opportunity. Anybody that saw this game tonight would certainly understand what this team -- arguably the finest team in the country.

Q. How concerned were you about the distraction of those guys in their hotel rooms, seeing this report?
COACH MILES: Very concerned. You know what, it's interesting, misinformation I feel as sad for Michigan as I do for my team. They didn't deserve that. I don't know how that information gets out. I'd challenge to find out exactly who said what. There should be some accountability when somebody says, "This is reported." Let me tell you something, they ought to confirm it with me. It's not true. It's not right. I've got a team that's sitting there -- they see me, I go down to chapel, when they see me, they're sitting there going, "Coach, sounds like you're catching a plane on Monday." That's not true. I had to tell them.
You know what, it's interesting, the unique and special situation that involves a championship game, they don't come around all the time, and in the history of the school this is the tenth. I did not want to in any way mar our kids' performance. I didn't want to in any way minimize the game. This is about two great teams. It's about a senior class that's the winningest senior class in the history of the school. This team has won 11 games three years in a row. This team has finished fifth in the nation, third in the nation, and Lord willing, we'll see if we can catch us another odd number here coming forward.
But for me to be an issue, for a coach to be an issue on a day like today, it's not forgivable. That's why I had to take the podium and tell the truth.

Q. Jonathan Zenon has been picked on a lot this year. There were times when I guess he could have packed it in tonight or any time during the season, but what does that tell you about him and the play he made?
COACH MILES: Well, I just hope more teams go to picking on Zenon. If you look at his play, you know, certainly when you play great teams, they have great players, too. They're going to make plays. But the mark of a champion is the ability to keep playing, and it's about the next play, and it's about the play that you can make, and you keep the pressure on your opponent and you work and you work and you find a way. That's Jon.

Q. When you heard that report or saw that report on television on ESPN, what were your emotions? You seemed pretty angry at your press conference earlier.
COACH MILES: I promise you, it's not a press conference I wanted to have. I wanted the game to be the focus, certainly not the coach. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that my name was on ESPN. I was embarrassed for my team.

Q. You just asked us to ask you, so I'm going to ask you, if Bo Pelini goes to Nebraska will you be interested in Jon Tenuta?
COACH MILES: I have no idea. I've given little thought to that. There's a number of guys that I'm considering if that happens. Thank you.

Q. Is he one of them?

Q. People who know you well say that the Michigan job was your dream job, and no offense, considering where you are in your career and your age, you may never get another shot at it (laughter). Considering they've had three coaches in 40 years. You have to have some feelings about that.
COACH MILES: You know, it's interesting, when I came here, my great mentor -- really there's two, Bill McCartney, who I call and I share any number of thoughts with, and Bo Schembechler, who was the great coach at Michigan. I always called him when it came down to making decisions. There was a job in the Midwest in the Big Ten that I had the opportunity to take when I was at Oklahoma State, and I called Bo, and I said, "Bo, I'd like to go to Michigan because this would be a great job." But he says, "That would be hard to do that from there. I said, okay. He says, "But I don't control this job. That's not something that I can guarantee."
Then not long later, I was fortunate to be contacted by LSU, and I said to Bo, I said, "Bo, what do you think about LSU?" He said, "Let me tell you something, it's a great place. John McLennan is a friend of mine, and he loves it there." Bo told me that LSU was a great place. So when I went there, when I came here, I didn't go with the pretense that there was only one place for me to go. I came here to make friends and find a great school and a team that loves to fight and play.
The sincerity of the relationships between coaches and players, they're real. Jacob Hester, Steltz, these are great kids. To think that there's anything less sincere than the relationship that I have with my team, there's nothing more important. I certainly love Michigan. I love Michigan. I will always be a Michigan man. I will always root for the next head coach there. I will wear those colors when it comes down to the Ohio-Michigan game. I'm going to root and pull for the Blue, and they will eventually win that game (laughter).
There's a proud tradition, and they have to do the things they have to do. I'm for them, and if there's any way I can help them, I'd love to help them. But I'm not going there. It saddens me at times. I can't be at two places. I've got a great place. I'm at home.

Q. On the other side of the coin, you said you didn't want to be a distraction, but do you think this might have given your team a lift and made the difference or made some difference in the game?
COACH MILES: Not me, not me. I think the coach is just a coach. I think this team needed to be pointed in the right direction and kind of hit it out of the barn, and they were going to play. I felt like I had to -- if there was distraction, I had to remove it, but I don't really think it was all that big a deal. I think that they could handle it.

Q. You had a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl last year because of what happened with Florida going to the National Championship. How does it feel going into a Bowl game this year as the conference champion, that you earned your right to go to the Bowl game?
COACH MILES: You know, when you're a little kid you think about winning championships, whatever league, whatever spot, whatever little baseball team, wherever you're at. Winning a championship in this conference is why you play. It's as great an honor to be a part of this team as anything I've done in my career. Wherever we play I'll feel that way.

Q. At any point during the process did anybody representing you talk to anybody representing Michigan?
COACH MILES: No, no. George Bass is my agent, and he's not talked to Michigan, and I did not, as well.

Q. You said a couple weeks ago at your press conference that you hadn't talked to anyone in the area code of Michigan except one person. That person seemed a little surprised you weren't coming to Michigan. Do you keep anyone in the dark?
COACH MILES: I can only make the decisions that I can make. It saddens me that I can't be in both places.

Q. Sorry to split every hair on this, but yesterday you did say that you would talk to Michigan after this game, and today you're not going to Michigan.

Q. Was there something that happened in the last 12 hours or 14 hours that changed your mind?
COACH MILES: Well, first of all, the school here wants me to stay, and this is a great place and I've got a great team. I've got a great recruiting class started, and it would appear that we'd be able to finish it very strongly.
There's a lot of pluses right here. I've not talked to anybody from Michigan. The idea that I could allow a misinformation to occur and that, in fact, if I'm going to stay, there is no finer time to make a decision than before we play the championship game. That's how it comes.

Q. Kind of a similar question I asked the players: Most of your talent or a lot of your talent was watching. Talk about the guys that stepped in their shoes and made the plays.
COACH MILES: Well, Rick Jean-François didn't play all year, and he stepped forward and made some plays, and he's a big ole strong man inside. Gary Beckwith returns from the injury and plays. We lost a wide receiver in the early part of the year and we lost early again in this game, and Demetrius Byrd and Brandon LaFell and those guys stepped forward and made big plays. That's the way a great team operates.
Guys that given the opportunity to step into the game make plays.

Q. Have you given any thought to contacting ESPN and kind of debunking where the misinformation came from? Because I think it came in the morning on their show.
COACH MILES: I contacted -- I didn't have a lot of time today to do much. I contacted our sports information director, and I'm certain that they did that. I can tell you that it'll be interesting to find out where their sources were.

Q. Looking over the last week, is there any, I guess, regret that you didn't have this afternoon's statement, say, last Monday and kind of put all this away and let your team -- obviously the results are going to be the same --
COACH MILES: You like to operate in anonymity and you'd like to feel like you didn't need to make that statement, until this became an acute issue. So I enjoyed anonymity there. The decision to stay is based on how great the school is, with the opportunities that I have before me, the opportunity to the board supervisors and the chancellor and the president have agreed to allow me to stay in those terms. There's not many places in America as good as this one. It has everything, a great school, great campus, great state. I'm home.

Q. With that early information coming out on that report, especially from an Ohio State guy, do you think it's safe to say that Kirk Herbstreit might be off your Christmas card list?
COACH MILES: I think it's an Ohio State plot (laughter). I keep an eye on those guys from Ohio State every chance that I get.

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