HOOVER, Ala. -- Maybe 10 trips to Hoover, Alabama, was enough.
Or maybe Les Miles was simply tired. There were times when he looked it.
Near the end of his turn at SEC media days, one of his aides said he seemed to be dragging. He gave her a sly smile, put a hand on her shoulder and drudged on to the next stop on his speaking tour.
It wasn’t that Miles disappointed on Thursday. LSU’s eccentric head coach rarely does. He got in a quip about Dan Mullen's and Bret Bielema’s choice of tennis shoes, pointing out to reporters that, “I'm wearing regular shoes and regular socks.” He said he thought about wearing something fancy -- but “then I thought better of it.” He even waxed on about fatherhood for a bit.
“My youngest son is 16, and I have a difficult time corralling him,” Miles said. “So I have now a 12-year-old. She just turned 12, fast-pitch softball player, and I'm going to make a rule that she cannot go to college nor really question whether or not we send her to high school so that we can keep her around and [I can] continue to be father, just like I've always been.”
But in spite of the fun moments like those, Les was not Les this year. His opening statement in the main media room seemed like a filibuster. He went on for 15 minutes, using up nearly 2,000 words (Georgia’s Mark Richt weighed in at 515). Miles broke down every position on his team, even the specialists. It was as if he was encouraging a government shutdown, only it was Twitter that slowed to a crawl.
To be fair, Miles had a lot to report. He said that his three suspended players -- quarterback Anthony Jennings, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain and defensive back Dwayne Thomas -- will remain in limbo until the legal process clears itself up. Travonte Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao, he said, are no longer on the team.
Asked about his quarterbacks’ poor play last season, he called it a matter of inexperience. He said, “Our quarterback play will be better, legitimately better.”
Often Miles was asked about John Chavis, his former defensive coordinator who left for the same post at Texas A&M. Chavis is suing LSU over a contract buyout.
Take this Q&A:
Reporter: “Coach, do you still have an amicable relationship with John Chavis, and what kind of impact do you think he'll have at Texas A&M?”
Miles: “John has been a great guy for us, and I have great respect for him, just a tremendous person. You suspect that he will coach great defense at A&M.”
Maybe Miles forgot to answer whether he and Chavis were still close. Maybe he didn’t.
Miles wasn’t gruff. He wasn’t disengaged. He just wasn’t the Mad Hatter we all think of, the guy LSU offensive linemen Vadal Alexander remembered eating grass on the sidelines as if it was a thing people did. As Alexander retold the story of watching in disbelief as Miles plucked a piece of grass from the field and chewed on it, he nearly doubled over in laughter.
Still, it wasn’t a terribly eventful day for Miles. In a week that’s been largely underwhelming from an entertainment standpoint, he didn’t exactly give media days a grand send-off.
But then again, he didn’t have to. His C-game beats most coaches on their best days.
Les being Les is still something worth paying attention to.
After all, how often does a coach dispense fashion advice to his most talented player?
When RB Leonard Fournette showed up for media days wearing red pants, Miles said he wanted to spray-paint them. He said he came close to throwing them off the plane.
“I’m told that red is a style,” Miles said. “It doesn’t seem real stylish to me. I had a red car when I was with the Cowboys. But when I went to [Oklahoma State], I sold it. A red car has no place in Stillwater.”
And because Les is Les, he went a step further: “When I was single, I didn’t date women who wore red, either. Or smoked.”