The Mad Hatter lives to coach another season at LSU.
Following LSU’s 19-7 victory over Texas A&M, athletic director Joe Alleva announced that Les Miles would return as the program’s head coach going forward.
This is a shocking development because of the numerous rumors that speculated Miles would be gone following Saturday’s contest. Miles said he learned of the news from Alleva and university president King Alexander after the game and sounded relieved during his postgame press conference.
“It’s nice to be the head coach at LSU,” Miles said. “I’m proud to be associated with a great institution, my colleagues, my coaches, my players, our president and the A.D. (athletic director) are quality men. It’s a joy. So, it’s nice to have them come say ‘you know the job you’ve been doing, you still can do it.’”
One of the more emotional moments from Saturday’s game came at the very beginning, when Miles received a standing ovation from the crowd as he took the field for the Senior Day ceremonies. He said he was stunned by the applause he got from the LSU faithful in Tiger Stadium.
“What a joy it’s been for me to lead a team onto Tiger Stadium, onto that field, in front of those people,” Miles said. “And when I walked out there for Senior Day, I did not expect any cheers. I just really expected to do what I’ve always done on Senior Day, which is support our seniors.
“It was their insistence of cheering and getting my attention and I wondered first ‘Is that for me?’ And then that ‘Les Miles’ thing (chant) kind of reminded me of me and I said ‘You know, must be for me,’ so I took my hat off and boy I tell you I was just really pleased.”
The best moment came at the very end. Miles was carried off the field by his players and later sang the alma mater. Miles said the experience was a bit terrifying, but wonderful.
“Scary, I want you to know it’s scary,” Miles said. “Because you know one, they’re tall and when you’re sitting up there you think ‘Now I know what it’s like to ride an elephant’ because it scares you to death and you just pray that you can hang onto the ears because there’s just not much to grab onto. I was thrilled. I was touched.”
Miles said he was not able to tell his players about the news, but mentioned that he cherished every moment he spent in the locker room following LSU’s first victory of the month.
“I did not have that opportunity (to tell the players he was staying),” Miles said. “They anticipated that I was there… I wanted to be in that locker room with them. Those moments were very personal to me, very special to me. And how fortunate we were to achieve, not only for Leonard, but for the team and the school.”
Miles said he felt no bad blood with anyone on LSU’s athletic department, aside from a couple of people he pondered having a “street talk” with. But Miles did have a bone to pick with the media, who had constantly reported rumors that he was finished at LSU. When asked about maintaining his top recruiting class, Miles said that the media’s gloomy reporting was a reason why some recruits de-committed.
“When the press surmises doom and gloom and there’s no way … it becomes fashionable to talk like that,” Miles said. “Then that recruiting class that we all want to be here doesn’t come.”
Miles is safe at LSU for the foreseeable future, but said that this entire situation was never about him.
“I don’t know that Les Miles staying or leaving fit anywhere in that feeling of emotion that is our postgame locker room after victory,” he said.