Glenn Guilbeau, GANNETT LOUISIANA
HOOVER, Ala. – Les Miles is successful probably beyond his wildest dreams.
Following his time as an offensive guard at Michigan, he began his professional career at a desk job with a truck driving company. Unfulfilled, he traded a $47,000-a-year salary in the late 1970s for something close to $7,000 on the Michigan staff under Bo Schembechler.
Some 35 years later, he is making $4.3 million a year as LSU’s football coach with a national championship, another national championship game appearance and two Southeastern Conference titles. He is 60, but he is showing no signs of slowing down, particularly in recruiting as the Tigers have enough talent for more national championship runs – if not this year - in 2015 as in 2007 and 2011.
But on Wednesday at his 10th SEC Media Days, Miles paused and took a breath. He was not only thinking of all the great players and teams that have passed by his podium since 2005, however.
He was thinking about his four blood signees at home.
His oldest daughter Kathryn, also known as Smacker, is about to be a sophomore on the swim team at Texas. Manny Miles will be the senior starting quarterback this fall at University High, where he is also an excellent pitcher. Ben Miles is playing football at Catholic High. The youngest, 10-year-old Macy, is a pitcher in fast-pitch softball and is spending the week at that World Series in Orlando, Fla.
“Certainly, there’s a lot of media there as well,” Miles mused.
“They’re growing up,” he said. “Young family arrived (at LSU). My oldest was 10. She’s 20. My youngest was 1. I carried her into Baton Rouge. Anyways.”
And he somewhat belatedly went on to give his 10th overview of an upcoming season as another summer is dying.
Get the feeling Miles would like to do what Bruce Springsteen mused at a concert at the New Orleans Arena in 2000. During a talk break in “Glory Days,” a 15-year-old song at the time, he counted his age off with frustration and finally started yelling, “Stop … stop … stop.”
Springsteen will turn 65 on September 23 and shows no signs of letting up as he continues to produce songs like Miles does NFL players. Miles will be 61 on Nov. 10 – two days after hosting Alabama and Coach Nick Saban, who will be 63 on Oct. 31 unless his negotiations with the council on aging committee results in a new way of counting years. LSU-Alabama games are like Springsteen concerts. They’re breathtaking, last about four hours and can put years on you.
Miles clearly would like to stop time when it comes to his best players as well. In the last two years, he has lost 17 juniors to the NFL.
“Absolutely, we have had the most early exits,” he said. “We do lead college football in three-and-outs.”
And he was not talking about his offense.
“Three years is not long enough,” he said.
Poor Miles. Even his own daughter Smacker left after her junior year in high school in Baton Rouge to go to the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., to focus on athletics before college.
“It’s my 10th year of these,” Miles said. “It’s always great to be back. It means the summer’s over, and we’re getting ready to get ready. How fortunate I’ve been to lead the Tigers into battle.”
And how fortunate LSU has been to have Miles as the leader of its athletic family for so long.
Here’s to another 10 years of Bruce concerts and SEC Media Days for Les … but not so many for Nick.