COVINGTON — Eight years ago, in the spring before his first season at LSU, Les Miles had the unenviable task of following then-Athletic Director Skip Bertman in addressing the Tammany Tigers stop on the Tiger Tour.
If there’s a wine and cheese region of Louisiana, the North Shore is it. And Miles didn’t exactly give them red meat that night, or even inspire them much. Basically he delivered an eyes-glazing-over review of the depth chart, including the backup deep snapper.
“In review, going though the two-deep was probably a mistake,” Miles said Wednesday before his appearance before the group at the Tchefuncte Country Club.
He’s gotten better.
Wednesday, as he did in Tuesday’ New Orleans stop, Miles and football sideline reporter Gordy Rush engaged in an easy banter, giving the faithful what they probably wanted to hear (A few not only want to know what happened against Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl but still are demanding an explanation of the 2012 BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama) while moving things along.
“I saw after that first year that the fans needed to see the down-to-earth guy I knew rather than just having him standing behind the podium,” said Rush, whose time emceeing the tour goes back to Nick Saban’s first year. “We’ve both got the same kind of dry humor, so we can joke around and have a good conversation while getting the fans the information they wanted.”
With the tour’s 11 stops now confined to a month rather than extending into July as in past years, Rush said he’s careful not to ask the same questions every night lest he the answers become repetitive.
But some topics — like recruiting and the quarterback situation — have to be addressed.
And the punch lines — such as pointing out that in the first three rounds of the NFL draft, LSU had six players selected while the entire Big Ten had seven — get only mild variations.
The Miles-led Tigers doing the Harlem Shake also was a must-see video highlight.
But there weren’t any inflammatory digs at Alabama, or anyone else for that matter. Such shots aren’t kept quiet in our digital universe.
Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis recently told a Gators’ booster gathering that Saban, his former boss, was “the Devil himself.”
And in a world where some people apparently wake up each morning looking for something to be offended about, There was the predictable reaction.
Even Saban said he was “terribly disappointed,” at Davis’ remarks.
Saban having his feelings hurt, especially when someone compares him to the Devil? Please. Nobody should take anything said a booster meeting seriously.
People pay good money to hear the coach rip rivals.
But Miles said Wednesday that even assistants who usually are unbridled when making public appearances are encouraged to be bland these days.
It’s enough just to have to interpret Miles’ oft-mangled syntax.
“Sometimes I do feel like I should translate what he just said,” Rush said. “You come to expect the unexpected.”
Even Miles’ acknowledgement of Les-Speak can be a head scratcher.
“My prose, if you will,” he said. “Can sometimes be open-ended.”
You’re right, Coach.
But you’ve definitely improved.