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January 2, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
COACH LES MILES: I can tell you this, we're awfully happy to be here. Everything we've done really since we've arrived was set to end us back here, New Orleans, on this day.
So this football team certainly is thrilled to be back in New Orleans. We have a great affinity for the city. We understand how important it is to our school, certainly to our state.
Of course, we've had some wonderful experiences here and look forward to participating fully in this championship series.
So preparation's been good. We had five weeks, took two weeks to run, condition. We really got into what was a period of time where we broke for Christmas and found some weekends and made three game weeks out of it.
And we prepared differently and specifically and feel like our team is healthy and kind of enjoyed the preparation, enjoyed the time together, had a nice New Year's Eve, quiet, nice New Year's Eve with the team. And looking forward to this week and playing this game.
There's only two teams going to play this late. We're a team that's played 14 games. This will be our 14th game. We enjoy that. We enjoy the achievement of being at the back end of the season, being the last teams to play.
As I look back on this season, I think we were the first team to play. We opened the season against Mississippi State, Thursday night. And now we're fortunate enough to play our 14th game.
This football team has really done a number of great things. But in different spots, different guys step up. The strength of the team is in the quality of the contribution, and our football team has really enjoyed success. And it's a great chemistry and, in my opinion, they're a very special group.
We left campus today. We talked about thanking somebody that maybe was close to them. They turned to each other, and they thanked their teammates. And the season has been tremendous, and certainly being here is an achievement in and of itself.
I look at the guys that are on this team. And our senior class -- our senior class, I want to say 11 have already graduated. And nine two weeks ago. And with 15 -- 14 to remain and all of which will be on track and on path to graduate.
And when we recruit them, we bring them to LSU for these reasons, to get a degree of choice and play championship football. I can tell you that this senior class, certainly this football team, has done that.
So it's what's good and right about college football. Kids coming to school to get their degree, and then ending up in a championship game. We understand how good Ohio State is.
We've watched them. We understand the abilities that they have. They have number one ranked defense in the country, 17th -- ranked in 17 categories. Maybe the best linebacker in college football. Tremendously capable front. Very fast physical secondary. Their offense, again, maybe the best offensive line in college football, and a great tail back, quarterback that makes few mistakes, very tall, long-armed guy, quality receiving group.
Again, very, very talented in special teams and in every area. There is no weakness to this Ohio State team.
I compliment Jim Tressel, during his seven years there, averaging 10 wins, it's a tremendous accomplishment. Of course, this team is 11-1. Only lost to Illinois. This team played in this very game a year ago. Very talented team. Certainly they are the number one team in the country.
So we look forward to participating, competing against them in this game. So any questions?
Q. Practice today, the tempo there was what?
COACH LES MILES: Today, it's a Monday in game week if you look at it that way. And we had a strong practice. We'll have another very strong practice tomorrow. We'll taper and do more polish the following two days. And I think the preparation -- I think today's practice went extremely well, and I think preparation's gone well as well.
Q. Can you talk about just how the aura changes from being on campus to coming here now to a championship game?
COACH LES MILES: We're trying to identify the week specifically. And this is the game week and we're playing an opponent, very talented opponent in the back end. Certainly we love being here. Much different when you get out of the bus and walk through a crowd of hundreds that are welcoming you to New Orleans. It certainly increases the stakes to our guys.
Q. How did you feel when you walked through that lobby right now, saw your fans, heard your fans?
COACH LES MILES: Again, it's great to be here. I think our players certainly enjoyed it. I know I have. And they tell me it gets progressively and better from this point forward. Or worse, depending how you look at it.
Q. In April, you had four players that went in the first round of the NFL draft, would have been five if Dorsey had come on. He came back probably specifically for an opportunity to play in a game like this, or this game. Can you talk about what he's meant to this program and how rewarding it is?
COACH LES MILES: Any time a young man chooses to postpone what was certainly a wealthy position to come back and be a college senior, play with his team and be at LSU for another semester, another year, and look forward to playing on the championship team certainly with an opportunity now to play for a national championship, he's meant a lot for this team. He's a wonderful man. He's selfless. He's highly regarded as he is, he is as humble a participant and as humble a guy that will participate in practice in just really a great representative of the school, certainly his hometown. And he's meant a lot to us. Shown us great leadership.
Q. What do you think this home field advantage, could affect the outcome of the game?
COACH LES MILES: I don't know that home field advantage affects outcomes of games, to be honest with you. I can tell you we will enjoy this venue. We did last time we were here. We enjoy going to lunch in this city.
This will certainly be at home, much more comfortable than our opponent. I don't know that it actually affects the final score.
Q. What did you think of the way another Big Ten team that lost to Ohio State handled Florida yesterday?
COACH LES MILES: I think it shows you very comfortably that the Big Ten conference is a quality conference, that the finest teams in that league can beat the finest teams in this country. And I don't think there's any question that you saw two quality teams playing in that game. And the matchup was a pick 'em. And I think our guys understand that this is a brand-new year and this is about two teams that are playing. Not necessarily reflective of any history.
Q. (Question about penalties.)
COACH LES MILES: The question was about penalties, and I can only tell you that we worked on it daily. I think our guys certainly understand the call to be more competent and to be better and understand certain situations and how to pull off. And I think our guys are of that mind-set at this point.
Q. Coach, would you guys probably describe it being as being the healthiest game all year, would you talk about the advantage of preparation?
COACH LES MILES: It's going to be wonderful to put some guys on the field that haven't played full strength for quite some time. I think we'll look forward to seeing a number of guys play, not only play but play very well.
Q. Coach, Ohio State came down all season, watched you practice, what do you think they learned? And second thing, you're from Ohio going up against another Ohio coach, what that means to you?
COACH LES MILES: Ohio came down and visited us and we talked about football. I don't think there's really any secrets in football. And we shared and I think it's a very -- a comfortable position to be in. I don't think that there's any trade secrets that were passed that will cost anybody opportunities at victory.
I think what they learned was is that we do things this way and they compared it to how they did things. And of course they shared that with us. And it's neither here nor there. When you look at the film, you see it. Sometimes you don't.
So the next question about Jim Tressel, what a wonderful coach he is. And there's speculation that we were actually on the same field in high school against each other.
And I can only tell you that I don't know that it has anything to do with being from Ohio. But I look forward to competing against him and he's a gentleman.
Q. You talked about these are college kids and this is a big reward. The city's struggling. Are you going to let them go out and run around the Quarter a little bit and spend some money, boost the economy?
COACH LES MILES: Absolutely are. Any time they can, between lunch and dinner and those times, we'll give them a little bit of free time tonight. I think they have a 1:00 curfew. And it will curtail there shortly.
Q. After Georgia and USC's impressive wins, I guess there's talk that they could be worthy of consideration for number one, what are your thoughts on that?
COACH LES MILES: I don't give much thought to that to be honest with you. I can only tell you we're very fortunate to be in this game. It will be our intent to play extremely well. A year ago I was an LSU football coach that really represented a strong OSU team and I think it was not my place to make that speculation. So I don't know the specifics of that, but the only thing I can tell you is that we like where we're at and we're going to play this one as hard as we can.
Q. Based on what we saw when you were walking in, is it fair to say that you guys playing here at a national football game is almost like Ohio State playing you guys and Columbus for a national championship?
COACH LES MILES: More like Toledo. Not quite Columbus. Toledo might be a little distant, too, maybe Marietta. Yeah, I think it's very similar to that. I think you'll find that the environment that we'll step into will be very exciting, and I think they'll enjoy playing in the Superdome.
Q. You talked about a regular week for your own players. You're known as a guy who is emotional, intense, what is this week going to be like for you going into the national championship?
COACH LES MILES: It's going to be a lot of fun. I enjoy this team. I enjoy the men I come to work with every day. Great coaches and players. And the opportunity to be in a position to achieve and to win a championship, certainly a special spot. We're not going to approach it any differently. It's game week for us. We have an opponent where we'll play as well as we can. Find a way to attack them, see if we can win.
Q. You don't have to put a governor's switch on your own line?
COACH LES MILES: No, I really don't. I probably will late in the week, but I think right now my governor switch is doing real well.
Q. You obviously faced them a few years ago, does this feel any different for you when you face (indiscernible)?
COACH LES MILES: It's two different teams. Ohio State had a quarterback issue and very talented defense. Not quite the same caliber as they are now. Certainly the team that I represented was not quite at that caliber as well.
So I think it's an entirely different year, entirely different teams.
Q. Were you an Ohio State fan growing up?
COACH LES MILES: I was an Ohio State fan growing up, absolutely. I think anybody in the state of Ohio certainly would root for the Buckeyes in absence of an emotional favorite. The only thing could I do there, Jim, not to (laughter)...
Q. Very different senior team from the last time they were on the field for the championship game?
COACH LES MILES: What differences?
COACH LES MILES: I don't think there will be many differences at all. I think you'll see the same guys. I think we'll be calling the same plays. I think maybe the numbers will be the same. Hopefully the play will be improved.
Q. You've had a lot of guys who are healthier now. Maybe no one has made as big an impact as Early Doucet since he's been healthy. Can you talk about what he's meant to your offense?
COACH LES MILES: Well, Early, he's very critical for big plays at any time, any number of routes. And we certainly will enjoy him. In this game he's probably back now at 100 percent where even in the championship game he felt maybe a little less than 100 percent. Maybe so -- people make big plays, a very special player for us, given us grade leadership, we look forward to seeing him play on Monday.
Q. (Indiscernible) what was -- in retrospect, is that typical? Obviously the teammate reported without distraction, was that tough for you to deal with? Do you have any regrets the way that played out?
COACH LES MILES: The only regret that I have is before I took the field and the championship game that there was misinformation that needed to be addressed in a very fast, hard fashion, in an acute manner. That would be the only thing I felt that would be regretful, that I had to very unusually take the podium before a game. Certainly a championship game to set things straight for my team and for those that follow our program. That would be the only thing.
I watched bits and pieces of the Michigan-Florida game. So I'm glad that a team there won that I have history with and that -- I have to tell you I normally root for the SEC, but it's hard when they line up against head coaches, the last game in a bowl game that's most significant to Michigan. So I'm kind of glad to see how that played out.
End of FastScripts