News and notes from Miles’ meeting with reporters
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
HOOVER, Ala. — Les Miles typically leads off his SEC Media Days address by regaling the crowded Wynfrey Hotel ballroom with tales of how he and the family spent their summer.
On this particular Thursday morning, however, such levity would have to take a back seat to more serious matters.
With Baton Rouge still working through the aftermath of last week’s police shooting of Alton Sterling, Miles remarked on the situation that’s dominated the national news cycle for more than a week.
“If you look to see change and if you watch the representation of our country on live TV, you realize that change is necessary,” Miles said. “And it comes through all of us, everybody in the room, certainly me. It’s an inclusive. You reach for others. You need to be respectful of their life and their opinion and who they are. You need compassion for people. You build them up and you train them and you give them the best practices, and we change as a team and as a community and as a society.
“I help my guys in some way process emotion. I don’t know that I’ve done a very good job. I don’t know that I personally have processed the emotion that I see when I — when our country is displayed as it is.”
Before taking the podium, Miles told a group of local reports that he’d learned of the Sterling shooting via a phone call from his wife, Kathy.
Miles immediately began doing research in his office and called a meeting of the team’s Unity Council the following afternoon. Coaching staff and full-team meetings followed the passing days. Players were given the freedom to speak out and be heard if they wanted to.
“Us teammates, we’re all brothers,” said senior center Ethan Pocic, who is on said council. “We just wanted to make sure no one went out. Not that we didn’t want them to give their opinion, but people can get hurt out there, and we just wanted everyone to be safe. We’re behind Baton Rouge on this. We want to play for our community. That’s really our goal.”
Miles echoed the comments made by Commissioner Greg Sankey from Monday, saying football can be a way to connect people and the community as a whole.
“This thing is a country-wide issue,” Miles said. “This is Baton Rouge, buts it’s everybody. You don’t know what the future holds, so maybe time is the issue, and to channel our guys toward it, because they want to help. They want to change. They want to be a part, and to funnel them in the right direction if difficult.”
Here’s more newsy notes from Miles’ meeting with the local media:
– Both Pocic and guard Will Clapp have made full recoveries from offseason hip surgeries. Miles added that Pocic will likely stay at center this season, with Maea Teuhema currently installed at LSU’s starting left tackle.
– Miles “anticipates” sophomore defensive back Donte Jackson being academically eligible for the regular season. He was ruled ineligible for the back half of the spring after trying to balance both football and running track.
– Les on kicker Trent Domingue announcing he’ll leave the program after his scholarship wasn’t renewed: “I told him to give me a few days, give me some time and we’ll make this work. I could not re-sign him until the day before the first class. So, but that’s just how I did it the year before. I think he had other reasons and felt like he needed to go. In any event, we wish him well. He’s a quality, quality guy for us, and in the middle of our team. But we’ve got a number of guys that can kick field goals, and that’s all he did.”
– Miles confirmed two members of LSU’s 24-man signing class have yet to enroll and are currently working to become academically qualified: Ed Alexander and Andre Anthony. He expressed confidence that both would be eligible for the start of fall camp.
– While nothing is set in stone, Miles said he “hopes” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will call plays from the sideline this season. He did so in LSU’s Texas Bowl win over Texas Tech after calling plays from the booth since joining the staff.
– Leonard Fournette was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s best running back.