LSU coach Les Miles opened his time at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala., today with a non-football topic that resonated well. Enjoy what he had to say:
“Please forgive me, but I’d like to talk about something other than football. I work in a place that’s committed to providing our student-athletes with exceptional experiences.
The tragic events in the last weeks have certainly taken the national spotlight, those areas, including Baton Rouge.
We’ve had several meetings. We met with the entire staff, and it was not about our roles as coaches or staff, but more or less who we were as people, and I wanted to listen. And I felt like it improved our communications. We — I’ve had two small lead meetings with leadership of my team, and I’ve had a team meeting, I broke that team meeting up into position groups, and I felt like there was — we brushed the surface of the issues. I don’t know that we got to the depth that we needed. I think the — I think that has to continue, certainly in our place.
You know, it’s — when you look at what’s going on in our country and you look at the culture of a football team and the culture of any sport team, people have to buy in, they have to have great energy. They have to work hard. They have to do their job. And then when they do that, they come alongside a team effort. They’re embraced by team. They enjoy the position that they have. They’re productive, and that team is significant. If you have great talent, you can have a very, very talented team, but you need everybody.
And I feel like our society’s the same and you need everybody. If you look to see change and if you watch the representation of our country on live TV, you realize that change is necessary. And it comes through all of us, everybody in the room, certainly me. It’s an inclusive. You reach for others. You need to be respectful of their life and their opinion and who they are. You need compassion for people. You build them up and you train them and you give them the best practices, and we change as a team and as a community and as a society.
I help my guys in some way process emotion. I don’t know that I’ve done a very good job. I don’t know that I personally have processed the emotion that I see when I — when our country is displayed as it is.
What I’d like to do is have them, our guys, have a platform where they could affect change. I think they’re wonderful men. I think they’re constantly involved in roles — they’re a student, they’re a football player, they’re role models. Society chases them. They want them at the party. They want them in front of the magazine. They want their autograph. And so then they’re constantly barraged with what’s the answer, what’s the answer, what’s the answer?
And the reality of it is just hope to put them in the position to allow them to have the greatest possible impact, because they’re our future.
Commissioner Sankey did it really well on Monday, and here’s what he said. Pretty simple. He said sport has a way to unite people, and I agree with him. And I hope that the Tigers do their best and that that happens in Baton Rouge, because Baton Rouge is home. And I — I appreciate the opportunity for me to share with you today.”