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January 5, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Q. Coach, where is the hat?
COACH LES MILES: It doesn't stay on my head all the time. I put it in the locker occasionally.
Q. It's the hat versus the vest, according to some. What does that mean? What are the personas there?
COACH LES MILES: Well, I suspect the vest keeps him warmer than the hat. But just kind of game-day regiment and something that you're used to. Certainly I'll wear it Monday night as well.
Q. Do you wear it like Bo, as they say?
COACH LES MILES: I gotta be real honest with you. My father was an old baseball coach in youth sports, and I started wearing caps with him. And I was a baseball player growing up, back when there was always a nice superstructure to the front part of the hat, if you recall. Kind of vertical.
Well, so I kind of grew up that way. A lot of coaches wore hats that way. If you look at the old pictures of Charlie McClendon and Schembechler and Bill McCartney, if you look at a lot of pictures, you can see that the hats really have changed.
And have come down a little flatter in the front. It's kind of important to me that there's just a little high-rise on the front end of that hat. So my hats aren't as old by design as some, but I like a traditional cap, if you don't mind.
Q. Do you think you crossed paths with Coach Tressel? He thinks maybe he scrimmaged Elyria way back when, he came in threw four picks or something; is that true or not?
COACH LES MILES: In fact, we talked at FCA. And he's a year older and past right in front of us. He was a year older, sophomore, when he scrimmaged Elyria, so that would have made me a ninth grader.
So Elyria was undefeated three of four years that I was there, in and around, so he scrimmaged a very talented Elyria team. His memories are probably very good. I was not on the field because I was at junior high because Elyria was only 10th, 11th and 12th grade.
Q. How is Flynn and do you expect him to have any problems making any throws on Monday night?
COACH LES MILES: No. He's practiced every play, the first team quarterback by design would have and he's healthier than he's been, both ankle and shoulder.
Q. Have you been impressed by everybody thought he was tough, his toughness this year and the things he's had to deal with?
COACH LES MILES: He's such a competitive man and has a nice, clean composure when it comes to pressure situations. And so, yeah, I knew that. But I didn't realize how tough he was in handling physical pain and injury.
He played on a gimpy ankle and played as well as many and played with some discomfort in that shoulder. But really we didn't even know how bad it was until after the game and played well during the game.
So he's a remarkably tough man.
Q. Ohio State has talked about addressing this layoff compared to last season, but the layoff is really benefitting your team in terms of -- talk about how much healthier your team is than the SEC championship?
COACH LES MILES: Our defensive line is fresh. There were a number of guys that were nicked and not as full speed as they should have been. And I think obviously Perrilloux took every snap in the SEC championship game. Matt Flynn is back and ready to go.
We lost Holliday halfway through the second half or thereabouts. In the Tennessee game. He's back. So we're up to speed.
Q. Coach, do you enjoy the fact that Glenn Dorsey gets so much attention and you've got some other guys that are pretty darn good on the D line?
COACH LES MILES: I gotta be real honest with you. I think there were a number of really good players there. I think Glenn is deserving of all attention and awards, and if there's a guy that handles it well, you know, I speak to him routinely. He understands it very fundamentally.
There's a guy that grew up with braces on his legs and realizes what it's like to be not quite capable.
And then now he's highly awarded and celebrated, yet he's humbled very comfortably by being that kid from Gonzales, Louisiana, who wore braces on his legs. So he handles the shine of the media as well as anybody.
And he knows -- I guess what I'm saying to you if there's a guy on our team that can handle it and can understand what he needs to do game day, it's Glenn Dorsey.
Q. It helps guys like Kirston Pittman that everybody pays so much attention to Dorsey or does it?
COACH LES MILES: I don't know if it helps them or hurts them. To be honest with you. Kirston has had such an interesting story. There's another guy that is just not going to go by a game like we have to play this Monday night for distraction media.
Q. You've taken, rolled the dice a lot this season, 4th downs, trick plays. I asked your players about that. They kind of feed off your coaching moves. Having the reputation of a riverboat gambler type coach, do you like that reputation?
COACH LES MILES: Well, I can't imagine if that's the case. I think it's all specific to situation. I can't imagine that there's not many coaches in America that don't see it the same way.
I don't think you just walk up to a situation and say this is what you do, give thought to exactly what's going on in the game. So I'd be just as happy to have everything done by 3rd down. And I want you to know something: We're very fortunate to have a tremendous punter. So I don't mind punting either.
So it really is it's the game and the situation more than it is me.
Q. And your players say it's preparation. You work on it in practice and that fuels confidence in the game to do a lot of the things and make the calls?
COACH LES MILES: The things we do we're going to execute. If we can't execute we're not going to call them. You will not see them. I mean, some things happen, you know what I mean? You use them up and that's over. You gotta win another way.
Q. In a game of blackjack do you hit on 16?
COACH LES MILES: I do not play blackjack. I play Texas Hold 'em. I don't hit on blackjack.
Q. You're playing this respected opponent, does that factor into this?
COACH LES MILES: I can tell you this: We respect Ohio State fully. I can't imagine that they feel disrespected. Certainly they're playing in the finest college football game in the country. They're playing in a national championship game. They're the number one team in the country. Who is disrespecting them? They've won 11 games. One loss. Only lost to Illinois. They're the Big Ten champions. They played in this game a year ago.
I guess if you -- everybody needs to have conversation that has specific design to it, if they need that, that's fine. We don't see them that way. We certainly respect their abilities and they're going to get our finest effort.
Q. What kind of advantage is it going to be for you guys playing here in the dome and almost a home game?
COACH LES MILES: There will be some comfort for our football team when we walk in this environment. We've played here before. To call that real advantage, I'm not certain. I think the real advantage is to make the tackle, to make the play on offense, kick it, return it and cover the kick.
I think that's how the game's going to be won. I don't think there's any real describable advantage.
Q. The city is still recovering, can you make a point to your team about how special they are to this city, in particular, or is that unnecessary?
COACH LES MILES: I can tell you this, that point was made when we traveled down here to the Sugar Bowl a year ago. And this football team is very much in the debt of the city the way we were supported, how much we enjoyed being the first team to play in the Sugar Bowl after Katrina.
And our team knows very much firsthand what difficulty this city is going through. So we certainly enjoy being here, very respectful of the opportunity to play here.
Q. Can you talk about what this week's been like for you? I imagine this is your fourth press conference in four days, a lot of juggling?
COACH LES MILES: I love press conferences. It's one of my favorite things (smiling). You know, I think anybody that gets into coaching gets into coaching to be with the players, to practice, to try to get it right and motivate their team to play, and anything else is somewhat distracting.
But you have to keep your perspective, because this is a tremendous game. It's a tremendous game for a number of reasons. Playing for an opportunity to have victory in a football game in and of itself is a great reward. But to play in the final game, to play with as much at stake, to play with a wonderful country, with a mindful eye on how that game is going to go, it just makes it worth the distraction.
Q. Is the key matchup your D line against their offensive line, is that one of the big --
COACH LES MILES: I think there's a number of matchups. I think our defensive line and their offensive line, tremendously talented offensive line, may be, in my opinion, the most physical offensive line in college football. And our defensive line would be a great matchup. That would be interesting for the country to watch. And I think our offensive line versus theirs, in my opinion, very talented defensive line.
So this game will have -- it will be real effective in this game inside.
Q. What about Laurinaitis, how much of a disruptive force is he going to be?
COACH LES MILES: He's a tremendous linebacker. I was fortunate to follow Glenn Dorsey around on the awards circuit, and met No. 33 Laurinaitis, and he's a tremendous young man. I watched the little clips that I saw on the banquet circuit and they were very fair in descriptive of his abilities. When you watch him over a season, very talented player.
Q. Coach, you've played in the Big Ten. Now in the SEC. What's the difference between the two conferences?
COACH LES MILES: I think the strength of our conference overall is -- and it certainly has a lot to do with -- very honest, with the idea that I know this conference best. I think top to bottom, I think there's greater strength across the conference. I think when you look at our best team, when you look at those teams that are lower division conference teams, I think they're very competitive teams, very talented teams.
There's where my enjoyment of the SEC lies. I think the best teams in a number of conferences can be as talented or more talented as any. We understand this Ohio State team is conference champions from a very strong conference and the finest team in that conference. So we understand and look forward to real strong competition. It's going to be a great game.
Q. Robiskie's dad said he ran a couple of weeks with the Dolphins, do you remember that?
COACH LES MILES: I went over there to root for the Dolphins. I was out there recruiting the guys, in that area. And stopped in and, yeah, oh, Robiskie said, listen, I'm glad to see you really enjoy you being around, but you know I'm rooting for the other guys. I said, that's your call. And it is his son, now (laughter).
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about how Ryan has kind of overcome some off-field obstacles this season, stayed focused and been a big contributor?
COACH LES MILES: I think he's really matured. He understands what the team is and what commitment to the team means. It's not just practice. It's doing all the things right, both at practice in our meetings, in the classroom the responsibilities. He's starting to get it. Enjoy that. And it's a process certainly I had to go through. But if we all look back on ourselves and say some of the things that we did right, some of the things we did wrong growing up, I think that's what that is and hopefully we'll get it back in this thing and get it right a lot.
Q. You're pleased with the way he's responded?
COACH LES MILES: I am pleased. He's improving, maturing pretty daily.
Q. You mentioned Holliday. When you inherited him being as small as he is, were you skeptical at all?
COACH LES MILES: I didn't inherit him. We ended up -- I took him in our first class. And very much wanted him because of the specific skills that he has. And I'm constantly challenged to use him more to get that done. But I was never skeptical of his abilities that he has. And he needed to, for me, show and develop the ability to run the football a little bit more and he's done that.
Q. Coach, can you speak to Matt Flynn, the season he's had stepping in for a pretty fair quarterback and just the patience he's shown?
COACH LES MILES: It's really interesting. Matt Flynn competed extremely well versus JaMarcus Russell, last year's quarterback, and competed with an opportunity to play, really going into both seasons that we were here. And for different reasons the nod went to JaMarcus early and JaMarcus never slowed down and played extremely well and there was no reason to make the change.
And Matt showed in the Peach Bowl how capable he was and knew he was going to have a season that he's had. And probably the piece about Matt Flynn is that when you have patience in your life and you understand that you're going to compete and compete well and you're going to make things work and yet you still have to have patience, it's not going to come quickly. I think this season means more to him maybe than a number of other guys on our team for that reason.
Q. Pretty unusual that a guy replaces the No. 1 pick at that position and the team continues humming along pretty well?
COACH LES MILES: I think it speaks to his commitment to work hard. He was a great leader for us in the summer. Insisted that the wide receivers come out and have seven on seven with him. And I think that he saw an opportunity here to have the kind of season that we did have and look forward to playing, an opportunity playing.
Q. Why do you think Ohio has produced so many high-profile coaches? Bo, Woody, you?
COACH LES MILES: Honestly, I don't know. I was a product of a middle income home, hardworking family. And football in that state is awfully important. I would guess that that scenario could be repeated in a lot of states across the country.
I can tell you that the MAC, the Big Ten, there's some great coaching being done, historic coaching being done there through time. I don't know if that leaves any strength to that fact. I can say I'm fortunate to have gone through Michigan with Schembechler and been at Colorado with Bill McCartney. Some of the experiences that I've had, pretty fortunate to have had. So I know that Coach Tressel's father is a great coach right there in Ohio. So I guess what I'm saying is I could see that -- I think the same scenario could be said if we were on the West Coast right now talking to some Pac-10 coach that grew up in California, for that matter. Could sign a number of coaches that came through that system, could make that argument there.
I've always run across a lot of guys from Ohio, obviously Tressel. Stoops, a number of great coaches with backgrounds in the Midwest.
Q. Now you've got Pelini?
COACH LES MILES: Now Pelini. There's a lot of similarities between him and Stoops, I can tell you that. Defensive-minded guys.
Q. What are your impressions of Vernon Gholston?
COACH LES MILES: Vernon Gholston is a tremendous player, a very athletic man. Obviously he's a thinking player. Appears to know the formation, knows the personnel, makes very wise, discerning decisions. And awfully talented man.
Q. Is he someone that you'll have to look at in situations?
COACH LES MILES: We're going to know where the defense lines up. There will be some scrutiny to him. There's some other things going on out there, linebackers that are pretty good. At that time you stop looking, linebackers that secondary starts making plays so we're going to have to -- as talented as he is, we're going to have to pack the entire defense.
Q. If you had a word to describe Matt Flynn, what would that be?
COACH LES MILES: Well, there's too much to him to just say competitive and too much to him to just say talented. There's a wide range of specific characteristics and quality.
Q. Talk about the Arkansas game?
COACH LES MILES: The team played through injury. Just a tremendous -- very fortunate to be with them. Fun, smile on his face, kicked around a little bit, comes down to doing things right and being part of a very strong football team and being an integral piece of that strength.
Q. When did you know you were going to do this for a living?
COACH LES MILES: I knew I was going to do this for a living. I left college. I got a degree in economics. I went to a small trucking firm in Ohio that my father was peripheral to and got a great opportunity and really enjoyed my time there. But felt like I was single and wanted to do something that had -- I wanted to wave a banner, for lack of a better reason, I wanted to stand for doing the toughest thing I ever had to do, which was get a degree of choice and play championship football. I wanted to help young men do that.
So really wasn't until after I kicked it around with my father for some months while I was in another occupation that I decided without question, please, that I'd be a coach.
Q. You were working like a dispatcher or --
COACH LES MILES: I ended up being the general manager there shortly because it was a small operation. And I learned all -- I learned how to drive it, how to maintain it and I made some calls on customers. So I kind of did it the way you should.
Q. Did you get up one morning and say, I really want to go back?
COACH LES MILES: No, it was after a period of time where we assessed we had done a really good job and things were going well and that it was an opportunity for me to share in ownership. And I realized really right along that I needed to be around athletic men that were ambitious, that had goals and help them pursue those goals.
Q. Is this back home?
COACH LES MILES: Yeah, back in Sheffield, Ohio.
Q. Speaking to Ryan Perrilloux, he sounds really appreciative of the second chances you've given him. Did a lot of soul searching go into that for you or was it pretty easy?
COACH LES MILES: No. There's always those pieces. You want young men to acquire skill and want young men to learn how to start their life. And it takes time. And you want to commit to that as part of your coaching job is to help them figure it out. Yet, there's that issue of, okay, when is that -- when is the cost too great to the team. So it's not easy.
Any time that you see a coach discipline a player or in a very painful sense send him in another direction, it's not easy. Certainly is my hope that the guys that are on our team are learning and doing the right things. It appears to me that Perrilloux is on the right path.
Q. What are some things that stand out from your playing career at Michigan?
COACH LES MILES: Stand out from my playing career? I can tell you that I really enjoy being coached by Bo. And the assistant coaches that I met were committed to being and helping me be a quality man besides just a player.
And I enjoyed the relationships with the men that I was fortunate enough to go through school with. And it was a tie that you just won't ever lose. The young men that were playing at LSU will always be committed to this team and these men. And I had the same experience, had a wonderful experience in college. It was hard. It was fair. It was not just a success story. It was a fight to accomplish.
And I think pursuing excellence and learning that from my college coach has had a profound effect on me overall.
Q. You ended up off the team for a while; is that right?
COACH LES MILES: Absolutely.
Q. Is that for the reason, that legendary story of getting into it with somebody in a bar, biting his ear or nose?
COACH LES MILES: No, I don't think it quite went that way, but there certainly was an off-the-field issue with the coach as well.
Q. You ended up back on?
COACH LES MILES: I basically went in, defended myself as best I could with Bo and he told me, bull crap. He said, you're off. And I said, okay, I just want you to know what happened, what really happened.
And then about, I don't know, three weeks later I came back into his office and said, Bo, could you just find it in your heart somehow, some way to let me return (smiling)? He said, okay, Miles, but you've gone from in front to way in back. And that way in back will last a long time. I said, I understand, Coach.
Q. Do you call him Bo?
COACH LES MILES: Everybody did. To be honest with you, in that meeting I never called him Bo. I called him Coach Schembechler.
Q. Was that true you were in the back of the line when you came back?
COACH LES MILES: Yes, absolutely. I left in the front and ended up about eighth.
Q. How did the hat become part of your persona?
COACH LES MILES: I've worn a hat when I played baseball, when you look at the Michigan assistants that have gone on they wear hats. It's probably based on the fact that the guys that you saw coach you wore hats. To be honest with you. And I kind of enjoy the fact that it keeps the sun off my face. Being inside, it's probably the lights.
Q. But you'll be wearing it, right?
COACH LES MILES: Yeah. It's what you do. Isn't there a lot of guys that wear caps? I watch guys every day who wear caps. It's exactly right. It's kind of a work issue, you know.
Q. (Question about Kurt Russell?)
COACH LES MILES: Not on the sidelines, I don't, I promise you. I've heard that before. That's kind, and I'm sure Kurt Russell doesn't enjoy it.
Q. Is there a chance Andrew Decker could get a snap or two?
COACH LES MILES: I do not know. There's that possibility. It's not something that is on my mind at this point.
Q. Are you aware of how much fun people have with the hat?
COACH LES MILES: No, I'm not aware of how much fun people have with the hat. See, like, turn around. See, he's got a hat that fits right on his head. Okay, to me that is a hat that you wear when you're working construction, right? You don't want to get it caught in anything and you keep it pulled down. And it keeps you clean, all the dust, flies. It's kind of a cap that covers your head. There's nothing dressy about that cap. That thing is just something you put on your head.
Q. Why aren't you wearing it now?
COACH LES MILES: Because I'm not coaching. I only wear it when I'm coaching. I don't go home and put my father's cap -- okay, give me the father cap. Put the father cap on. Occasionally when I've not gotten a shower I put a cap on (laughter). But honest to Pete, when I got into coaching, however long I've been a head coach, I've been wearing a hat. This is really the first time anybody's noticed.
Q. Have you met Glenn Dorsey's grandmother?
COACH LES MILES: Have I met Pearl?
Q. What is she like?
COACH LES MILES: I can only tell you this. What they've done with Glenn Dorsey and how they've raised that man, that's what they've done, because he's as humble and kind a person and as committed a competitor, is a selfless teammate. I'm just telling you what they've done for me is they put in Glenn Dorsey, they invested in their son. I tell one story about Glenn Dorsey that's a pretty obvious story.
Our open week I had the good fortune to go watch my sons play youth football. And they were playing St. Amant. And that was Glenn's youth football team. And from his hometown. And I told him during the week prior to, I said, listen, this Saturday I'm going to St. Amant and I'm going to watch my sons play your team. And of course he said, they're going down, Coach. I said no, there's no way. We're wearing them out.
So we showed up at the same game and I had a son that played the early game and the late game. There's three age groups of one team. And so I got there early. And I ended up leaving late because it was -- like I say, it was our off week. So I figured I'd spend some time with Glenn. I invited him, kind of told him to come. We have a couple 15, 30 minutes of fun. I spent about 30 seconds with him because he was Pied Piper and everybody in his hometown was constantly around him. And he was serving, signed autographs, just a wonderful man.
For him to -- he obviously knew that more than I. I promise you, I signed three autographs that day; he signed 300.
So it was -- that's who he is.
Q. (Question about coaching.)
COACH LES MILES: Coaching, my mom's saying the fact that family, they immediately got to go to college football games. Wasn't a lot of cheering before the load was delivered: Yea, all right (whistling). But I gotta be honest with you, I was fortunate to work with a lot of quality people there that make this country what it is.
But they enjoyed the novelty of college football.
Q. Do you still have fans in Ohio?
COACH LES MILES: I suspect there's a number of fans in Ohio who watch our games that are our fans.
Q. Have you coached a team any tougher than this one, looking at the seniors here, the guys --
COACH LES MILES: Competitive men. You got a competitive team, comes from behind, doesn't make any difference what the situation of the game is. They play. Turn it up a notch. It speaks to being very mentally tough.
Q. Is that why you have faith this year, people call them gamblers but to you you're not a gambler because you know who you're dealing with out here?
COACH LES MILES: I trust this team. I know this team will play. And there's not a lot of -- there's not a lot of risk they're taking without real -- I gotta be honest with you, I'm not calling the plays that we make up. It's something that we'll have a chance of success with. You don't have that every week. It's not something that you can't manufacture if they're not there. Many weeks they're not there, if you watch our games. We only do it occasionally
Q. You have one of the best turnover margins. Coaches always stress that. Is that something that play makers -- or protect the ball better on offense or what?
COACH LES MILES: I think there's some proper priority put on that in our program. Certainly Flynn has a lot to do with that. He has been very wise with the ball and virtually every practice we have a segment of what we call ball security.
Q. It's been a big stat in the BCS?
COACH LES MILES: Biggest stat in every football game that's ever been played, turnover ratio, no question. If there's one predictor of victory, if you had to say what one statistic is there, it's number of turnovers. If you win the turnover battle, you have a legitimate chance to win.
Q. You've watched I'm sure most of these BCS championship games. Why has the underdog risen like six of the previous nine? What's the common denominator there?
COACH LES MILES: I have no idea. I can tell you right now, in a game like this one you tell me who the underdog is. The number one ranked team in the nation or the number two ranked team in the nation? The way I got it figured, it's going to be two damn good football teams playing.
Q. Ohio State is hearing all this stuff that they are the underdog and stuff, and obviously last year?
COACH LES MILES: I always tell them that maybe they need to hear that.
Q. What are you telling your guys?
COACH LES MILES: Respect your opponent. Understand that this opponent is very dangerous and hopefully we'll play as quality a game as we can.
Q. The risk that you're talking about before going on 4th down, et cetera, where does that come from your past? Bo was not known for that.
COACH LES MILES: Well, if you win as many games as Schembechler had at Michigan, why would you? I mean, heck, you just line up and go play. Team Michigan was going to get a victory. I promise you this, there's no reason to do it. There's no reason to do it.
You guys are going to want to make this as something we do every game. It's not. It's an unusual set of circumstances and it's not there in every game.
Q. Your first two bowl games here have both been highly successful. You've basically blew out very good teams. Has there been a common characteristic in those two, how you guys prepare for it?
COACH LES MILES: We prepared the same every bowl that I've been a part of since Oklahoma State. So I think our guys understand bowl schedule here pretty comfortably and I think they're ready to compete in this, under this schedule. It's a process we go through.
I think the schedule benefits us. I don't know that any of the previous games have any direct correlation on this one.
Q. For a coach, how beneficial is it to that extra time to game plan a team versus during the regular SEC when you have a week?
COACH LES MILES: Well, hopefully it's beneficial so that you can look under some rocks that you wouldn't normally look under. Sometimes you can be overprepared. Sometimes you can put too much in.
And I think that's always a question with an open week or a bowl game. You really have to be careful, just do the right thing. So we've tried to stay away from drastic change in what is a big bowl game.
Q. How much is Early going to play in the game plan?
COACH LES MILES: Early is going to play like he has when he's healthy with us for time. He's currently very healthy. We look forward to him playing early and late.
Q. Coach Miles, is there any truth to the rumor that Fisher will get some reps in as a quarterback?
COACH LES MILES: You look awfully familiar there, press guy.
Patrick Fisher is a six-foot-four punter, guy that has a very strong arm, he's one-for-one in a nice little easy screen, and there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that he'll throw a pass from scrimmage.
Q. Put him in as receiver either?
COACH LES MILES: No.
Q. I hear he's a big-time threat?
COACH LES MILES: Are you his father? You look awfully familiar. Cousin (laughter).
Q. (Question about growing up).
COACH LES MILES: Growing up in Elyria, I am fortunate to have grown up in an area where people invested in youth in that community, a lot of great coaches in baseball, great teachers. Remember my teachers, sixth grade teacher and John Sheldon was my line coach, Pearson was my wrestling coach and just a number of experiences that I had growing up in a great town where football is important, that the youth of the town was important.
The men, the families took care of kids. I was fortunate.
Q. Do you get back there?
COACH LES MILES: I seldom get back there. It's so bad. I got a mom that's getting old, and I bring her to see me. And it's hard for me to get to see her. Schedule is so tight. So I have four kids of my own playing youth sports here in Louisiana. It's just hard for me to take time off to run back to the Midwest.
Q. You said she's coming down?
COACH LES MILES: She's going to be here.
Q. You have Andrew Decker not able to play because of the neck injury, how much still a part of the team is he and how has he gone through that process?
COACH LES MILES: He's always contributed. He's a fun guy. He's somebody that's a serious part of our team. Good, quality man.
Q. He said that you saw him on kick-off return and said, wait a minute, I don't think this is the wisest thing to do?
COACH LES MILES: He's got a bad neck. We're going to make sure that he's -- at times we have to take him away from contact to quiet his neck down. So would we do that? It kind of prohibits his ability to compete.
Q. Coach, as a former quarterback, risk taking is part of the football, we know Jim Tressel is a little bit more conservative than you. Is that your personality off the field?
COACH LES MILES: No.
Q. As a risk taker?
COACH LES MILES: No, I'm not a risk taker. I stop at lights. I give it gas when I'm supposed to. No, I don't think that I'm a specific risk taker game day, to be honest with you. I think maybe -- I think there's a lot of high school coaches within 15 miles of this dome that know exactly what I'm talking about. All these college coaches understand it as well. There's just some of those games where occasionally you have to go for it.
Q. I know you're excited to have everybody healthy and back, especially on offense. What do you guys plan to do to counter Ohio State and their defense?
COACH LES MILES: One of the things we've done all year long. It's going to be a heck of a game, very talented defense. They're not ranked seventh in the national categories by accident. It's going to be a fight. No question. We do understand they're very talented.
Q. What kind of reaction did you get on Bourbon Street last night?
COACH LES MILES: I took a half-hour walk. I enjoyed it, to be honest with you. It was a lot of fun. It was cool. But really enjoyable.
Q. Having a healthy Trindon Holliday, what can that mean to you guys?
COACH LES MILES: The things he is going to do he does with real health. We'll try to see if we can get him the ball a couple times.
Q. The difference in him, from last year how is he for --
COACH LES MILES: We know him better. And that happens every -- with each year and the opportunity to get him on the field and for us to understand what to expect from him, what happens from one year to the next, he's, again -- I've always said this, he's one of the toughest guys on our team pound for pound and inch for inch.
Q. And the success on the track, how does that help?
COACH LES MILES: He has confidence. He's a confident man. He'll play well and expects that he can make the play and generally he's correct.
Q. Anything that jumped off or impressed you the most?
COACH LES MILES: I met Gary Crowton. I know he had a pile of kids. I knew he was a tremendous father, and I've watched his football when I was at the Dallas Cowboys and he was at the Chicago Bears. I watched the Chicago Bears move the football, which was -- in that league was unusual. And yet I think his Bears were ranked about third in the NFL for throwing the football and for total offense. And then he went to Oregon.
In Oregon they were the first in the Pac-10 on offense. And that's not the most talented team in the Pac-10. And so I knew that he had a comfort to think outside the box at times. I've enjoyed that in my career. And yet I also knew that he could take an offense sculpt a little bit to the talents of the guys we had.
So I think what he's done, helping us so that we can keep exactly what we needed to keep so offense could stay intact where we could keep it. And yet the changes that he brings are allowing us to minimize what would be a learning curve, something that -- one of the real unwritten stories for the success of this team. Offensively we're better than we've ever been. So I think Coach Crowton has done a great job.
Q. You pattern yourself over Bo, you have the speech pattern, walk similar?
COACH LES MILES: I don't know. I hope like heck that Bo up there is not insulted by those comparisons. I don't know. I have no idea. I can only tell you there's a lot of similarities between Bo Schembechler and my father as well. I don't know how that all fits. It's hard for me.
Q. A product of somebody that you idolized growing up come from the game, do you want to be like that person?
COACH LES MILES: You probably don't need to realize what you're doing. It's just one of those things that you think about what might be best, give thought to Schembechler or McCartney. Fortunate to be on their staff. I'm in a situation where you operate in a manner where you felt it was right. If there's some of that similarity, that probably happens unconsciously.
Q. What do you miss about Ohio?
COACH LES MILES: I've always enjoyed the people in Ohio. Absolutely love it. Quality Midwest values. Enjoyable people. I miss the people.
Q. It's 9 degrees there today?
COACH LES MILES: I don't miss the snow. I don't miss the wind, and I don't miss having to scrape my windshield after it rains and froze while I was in someplace that I don't miss.
Q. Playing against the national championship against Ohio State, does that have any meaning for you?
COACH LES MILES: It's a tremendous honor. I think if we were playing another opponent, it would be every bit the honor, the type of enthusiasm for the game. I think playing Ohio State certainly, with this background, Michigan, there will be a little added fun there. Enjoyment.
Q. (Question about recruiting.)
COACH LES MILES: As I look back on it, I thought Ohio State recruited me as hard as they possibly could have recruited me because I was looking at it from what was a high school senior, whereas now as a coach I realize Coach Hayes was flirting with him (smiling). He wasn't that serious.
He spoke at my high school banquet and I think he even gave everybody an award. He brought it to me and said, hey, you're small. He didn't say it out loud. But when Schembechler heard that Coach Hayes actually spoke at our high school banquet, he probably said we gotta have it I'm not going to let Woody beat me on that guy. So both of them make the mistake and Bo got me.
Q. Coach, if you win Monday night, any chance you'll sport the mohawk?
COACH LES MILES: No chance. The only chance I have to support, to show the mohawk is if the woman that cuts my hair had been drinking before I sat down.
Q. Does that show the colorful side of this football, so many different hair styles?
COACH LES MILES: I think it shows the fact that he's not willing to spend enough money on a haircut to me. I think basically he says, listen, I gotta enough money here for two-thirds of a haircut and that's what he gets.
Q. You've been answering questions all week. What's the weirdest question you've gotten?
COACH LES MILES: About a mohawk (laughter).
Q. What's the one common question you get all week that you're getting tired of answering?
COACH LES MILES: Oh, there's no tired. I certainly enjoyed this week fully.
Q. Do you appreciate the reputation that you're known as a risk taker?
COACH LES MILES: No, I don't. I think that that's unfair, to be honest with you. Shoot, I mean, it's very specific. Shoot, I don't want to go on 4th down ever. I like to have everything done by 3rd. And I enjoy punting. I really do. I think we've got a good punter. We'll kick a field goal too. I don't have any problem with that. Honestly, if you look at all the field goals and punts that we've kicked, they far outweigh that other stuff. I think in this game, possibly there needs to be some fun to be written about, go ahead, enjoy yourself, you know what I mean, the risk taker.
Q. There seems to be a personality disparity between you and Tressel. He's more conservative, close to the vest, quote/unquote?
COACH LES MILES: Seven years as a head coach averaged 10 wins a season, face it, maybe I need to change my personality a little bit. He's had a tremendous run. Very respectful of him.
Q. When you guys played at Arizona State, there was a fake punt early.
COACH JIM TRESSEL: Absolutely. It was the first punt of the year.
Q. And it kind of turned that game. Was that something you had seen in there?
COACH LES MILES: Turned? You gotta be kidding me. We were fortunate we didn't get it blocked.
Q. Was that planned or was that at that moment you said, this is what I'm going to do?
COACH LES MILES: No, that was not me. That was an answer to a specific fake or a specific block that was going to be used. And when they did it, we did it. And so (panting), I promise you right now, I didn't enjoy that one at all. I would have preferred very much to punt that ball. But they gave us an extra possession. We made a nice little completion and we did the things we'd been coached to do. So, again, I would have preferred to have punted that one.
Q. Coach, as an Ohio State team, anything similar to what you've seen in the SEC?
COACH LES MILES: I think they're correctly the number one team in the country. Talented, big guys. Both defense and offensive lines and tailback, tremendous quarterback, big, tall, makes quality decisions with the ball. Defensive speed, linebacker, secondary, unbelievable quality special teams. They're very talented. I think that we see bits and pieces of that ability as we line up the play week in and week out, in the conference.
But to say that, I think there were some teams in our conference that will compare very strongly and respond favorably.
Q. From a coach's standpoint you still had the SEC title game to play. But after that Arkansas loss, did you think to yourself, this national championship thing is not going to happen this year, did you allow yourself that?
COACH LES MILES: I think there's an honesty to the position that we have and we didn't control our own destiny at that point. We were injured and we came off a game. It was really three overtimes. Emotional low. So the key at that point was to prepare to play well.
Q. How hard was that? Even Dorsey said it was tough?
COACH LES MILES: I think there were some challenges to that. But, again, I think that our guys are so mature, so strong, ready to compete. And they needed some time. You don't lay it on the line with a team having a tailback having a career night that he had and not come away a little down.
But these guys have played in games before. They understand what it's like to rebound and get back on track and they did.
But I gotta be honest with you, even in that week, as we prepared, it did not seem to me that we were out of it. It did not seem to me that we were -- that there was not a chance that we could play in this game. And I think there was some divine intervention. I think the guy upstairs kind of chose the teams not with any priority, certainly, but for number one team in the country to the lose to a team that possibly played, again, a career night really won't even be in a bowl game this year was certainly unusual. But that OU team playing -- was it Missouri? I think that was probably even a good bet that that could happen.
So we had to find a way take our second string quarterback and injured defensive line and some mix with Holliday and other guys, find a way to win in the championship game. And then beyond that I felt like if things could happen with this team -- we were flying home in the plane and it was pretty obvious that West Virginia was having a very difficult time and Missouri was having a difficult time. I was hopeful at least that we would be in this game.
Just like we were a year ago, two-loss team, really very hot to get back in the season. So I understood honestly the position of Oklahoma, some of those teams that were in key positions, that they would have loved to play in that game, SEC, for that matter.
But what happens, you have to -- there's a criteria there and I think the voters -- obviously I'm prejudiced, but I think the voters made a quality pick with both Ohio State and LSU in this game. And we're fortunate to be in this game. It fell right the evening after we played in the conference championship.
But, again, I think the system works. And if someone were to say that we need a playoff so that the hot team late in the year can have a chance to take a run, I certainly understand that. I think a year ago that might have been us.
But I think the system, the way it stands, arguably I think the best two teams are getting an opportunity to play.
Q. What do you think of your offensive coordinator using video games to teach your quarterbacks? It seems like a pretty cool thing.
COACH LES MILES: It's a wonderful piece. It allows you to get the same vision, the same view of your offense when they play. The kids play, don't pretend that you're not going to get a video game -- don't get me wrong, I'm not doing it, but those guys, they're a different time and age.
Q. Have you tried it out just to see?
COACH LES MILES: My son Ben Miles handed me a video game. It was a shoot 'em up game. And he said, okay, here you go, Dad. These guys are good guys; these guys are the bad guys. So I started working this thing I could turn it and make it walk, but I didn't know how to fire it. They said, you have to hit this, fire, and hit that. Dad, jump. Where's the jump button? Move to the left. So, no, I gotta be real honest with you. I'm not video capable.
Q. Does it concern you at all that odds makers favorite has only won like three times in this game in like 10 years?
COACH LES MILES: Honestly, the prognosticators, the people of opinion, don't get to play. And the issue with this team has always been we look forward to playing. There's no appreciable difference between two very quality teams. They have some talented guys; we have some talented guys. The guys try to get loose. Our talented guys will try to get loose. And that's the game. I think it's going to be very.
Q. Does it concern you they're kind of emotionally wounded after what happened last year? They seem to be angry, seething?
COACH LES MILES: You know what, if you need that, then you go ahead. If there's a -- if the team plays best from an underdog role, go ahead. Assume that role. It's hard to believe that the number one team in the nation, 11 victories, walks in with an underdog moniker on their back. I promise we're not playing to face an appreciably weaker team. We see strengths and abilities that they have, and they're very talented. We're going to have to play a very, very good football game to win.
Q. Coach, everything that's happened to this team this year, close finishes, coming back, winning the SEC championship, everything that happened, I've asked some of the guys, I don't know if coaches and players believe in destiny, that a team is destined to be where they are. Do you believe this is a team of destiny, given the fact that you're here?
COACH LES MILES: I think teams put themselves in positions to achieve and overcome what are observable hurdles, and with good fortune, things like this can happen. If you want to call it destiny, go ahead. I like to call it team's preparedness, come to play well, gets ahead.
Q. What do you think about the plus-one format?
COACH LES MILES: Honestly, I'm for any change that college football sees fit to make this format. This certainly has benefited the game. You get to play, the bowls take place, one plays two. I think this is a quality format. At some point in time what the decision-makers are going through are just how much do you change the bowl system which is a benefit to college football and a benefit to college players, a reward to a great season, a reward to a program that's achieved. How much do you affect an academic schedule by changing a system into a complete playoff system? That's the issue. When you play at this level, you cannot play 16, 18 games and feel like you can prepare a college student.
So I think it's getting better. I think Grant Taft and College Football Association, I think the presidents and the ADs -- I think those decision-makers of TV are going at it in a slow and deliberate fashion, and I think the adjustments that are being made are quality ones. And I think at some point in time it will change again. And hopefully in my lifetime it will be through five years where no one says they should be playing in the game.
Q. Demetrius and Kirston were over there hosting their own little TV show. Does that sound right about their personalities?
COACH LES MILES: Demetrius Byrd has more personality than he has moves on the football field. He's a very talented guy. Sounds like both of them.
Q. The guys said Demetrius is probably one of the better dancers on the team. Can you give him a run for his money?
COACH LES MILES: No, I can't give him a run for his money. I don't think there's many guys in this country that can give him a run for his money. He's got the stuff.
Q. Can you imagine the scenario where Andrew Decker would get in? He was talking about want to go get in just for one play?
COACH LES MILES: Yeah, but I don't think it's something that is a priority at this point. It's sheer victory before any of those things take place.
Q. Do you know if you played high school football against Tressel?
COACH LES MILES: I think we've determined that at the FCA breakfast yesterday that we missed each other by a year. And he played against a very talented Elyria team, and I think Elyria High School under Coach Barton at that time was three or four years 10-0. And I think that they scrimmaged Berea -- wasn't he from Berea at that time? And I think he had a difficult time as a sophomore.
Q. Is this a better team than last year?
COACH LES MILES: I think as a team these guys play more committed, their play complements each other more effectively than any other.
Q. Is it the seniors, the leadership?
COACH LES MILES: And then you have guys very ambitious who will want to be a champion in this game.
End of FastScripts