LSU head coach Les Miles. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 2:23 PM
LSU’s Les Miles went on the offensive Wednesday with his most passionate defense to date about his time at Oklahoma State, which has come under fire in the midst of a series of stories by Sports Illustrated.
Wednesday’s second installment of the five-part series alleged academic misconduct at Oklahoma State during and after Miles’ tenure at the school from 2001-2004. On the heels of the first story that suggested players were paid by boosters or received money for doing sham jobs, Wednesday’s story suggested that Miles and, later, current coach Mike Gundy, weren’t interested in players’ academic well being, only keeping them eligible.
Miles got emotional during his turn on the weekly Southeastern Conference teleconference when remembering his time at OSU when the 9/11 terrorists attacks came down in 2001. He also recalled he was an assistant coach at the school when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City.
“I saw the strength of the Oklahoma people,” he said with his voice quivering. “I revered my time in Stillwater.”
The he got riled up.
“The idea that somebody would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct … Did we work hard? You betcha. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups. You betcha.
“But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, to stay the course and to fight.
“And I can tell you that people (former players) that were commenting on the state of the program weren’t there long enough to figure it out.
“And they heard me tell them, ‘Attend class and do the right things’ and heard me routinely.”
Wednesday’s story claimed that some OSU players were guided toward easy classes, had grades changed by sympathetic professors or had class work done for them by tutors and counselors.
Miles denied it.
“I can tell you that staff, families and friends and anybody that sat in our meeting rooms knew that this thing was done right.”
One example cited in the story reported that Miles would tell his players “Academics first, football second” — but while reciting it, he would hold up two fingers when saying academics and one finger while saying football.
In the story, Miles is quoted as saying that it happened just once and it was “in a moment of humor.”
Miles didn’t want to be questioned about OSU on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference. All of his comments came during his opening remarks.
The final three installments of the Sports Illustrated series will focus on drugs, sex and the fallout.