Thursday, 13 January 2011 16:40

LSU: Senior Bowl, Les Miles, Joe Alleva

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Three members of LSU’s Cotton Bowl champion team will suit up for the South squad later this month in the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl as linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, defensive tackle Drake Nevis and kicker Josh Jasper have all be invited to take part in the all-star game in Mobile.


Kickoff for the 62nd Senior Bowl is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT on Jan. 29 from Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised by NFL Network.


“LSU is known for always being strong defensively and Drake and Kelvin certainly were two big factors for that this season,” Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said.  “They’ve both had outstanding careers and are two of the best players at their respective positions in this year’s senior class.”


Sheppard was a first team All-SEC selection by both the Associated Press and league coaches this season.  The three-year starter at middle linebacker led the Tigers with 116 total tackles, including 11 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2010.  He posted double-digit tackles in six of the Tigers’ 13 games this year and was the unquestioned leader of the SEC’s second ranked total defense.

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“First and foremost it’s an honor to be invited and have the opportunity to come down there and play in the Senior Bowl,” Sheppard said.  “I just want to go out there and put on a show and show the coaches, the staffs and the Senior Bowl representatives why I got invited.  I want to go down there and show off my tools, but at the same time gain some tools because I know I’m going to be working with NFL personnel, NFL coaches.  So I’m going to go down there and pay attention to all the details to try to make sure I do my best at everything.”


The Stone Mountain, Ga., native finished his career with 311 total tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions.  He played in 53 career games for the Tigers, starting 30 of those contests. 


“I feel that with getting that hands-on knowledge from these NFL coaching staffs, I’ll have a huge advantage over other guys that won’t play in the Senior Bowl,” Sheppard added.


Nevis is the latest addition to what is becoming a very impressive list of defensive linemen to play at LSU.  He was a second team All-America selection (Walter Camp, AP) and first team All-SEC pick by the AP and league coaches this year.  The defensive tackle was a force up front for the Tigers in 2010, totaling 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.  He tied for third in the SEC with three forced fumbles and was eighth in the conference in sacks. 


The Marrero, La., native wrapped up his career ranked ninth on LSU’s all-time list with 31.5 tackles for loss.  He also tallied 139 total tackles, 10 sacks and four forced fumbles. 


Jasper was a first team All-America (FWAA, Sporting News) and a first team All-SEC selection (Associated Press) in 2010.  He finished the season having connected on 28-of-34 field goals and 36-of-37 extra points.  His 28 made field goals are a new LSU single-season record.  The Memphis, Tenn., native also set a school record for field goals made in a single game this season when he booted five against Mississippi State.  He capped off his record-breaking career at LSU with a Cotton Bowl record-tying 50-yard field goal in last week’s victory over Texas A&M and drilled a career-best 53-yarder against Louisiana-Monroe earlier in the year.


Jasper leaves LSU as one of the most prolific and efficient kickers in school history, ranking fourth all-time with 47 field goals made (47-of-56).  He is also LSU’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (.839), which ranks second in SEC history.  He was 5-of-6 from beyond 50 yards and 75-of-76 in PATs over the course of his career.


Tickets for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl are currently available for purchase at the Senior Bowl ticket office (151 Dauphin Street), the Bel Air Mall customer service desk, all area Food For Less locations, select Regions Bank locations, online at or by calling (251) 432-4109.






Miles’s contract

LSU and head football coach Les Miles have agreed in principle to a new seven-year contract at the same annual compensation as Miles’ current agreement, pending approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors, it was announced by LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva on Wednesday.


The new agreement would include enhanced opportunities for additional compensation for championships and post-season accomplishments and would include no rollover provisions.  Miles’ annual compensation will remain at $3.751 million per year.


“We are pleased to reach an agreement that will keep Les Miles as the leader of our football program for many years to come,” said Alleva.  “Les is one of the winningest coaches in the country over the last six years and his players perform well both in the classroom and in the community.  It is important to maintain stability in a program and this contract will help LSU remain a premier football program.  We are glad Les, Kathy and their family will remain a part of the Baton Rouge community.”


Miles has coached six seasons at LSU and has compiled a record of 62-17 as head coach of the Tigers, including a 5-1 record in bowl games, topped by a national championship in 2007. 


“This is home to us,” Miles said. “My family really loves being in Louisiana and I love representing this great institution. Staying at LSU is the right thing to do. I wanted to stand by the commitment that I made to the team and to LSU and that really overshadowed any other consideration.


"The business that we're doing is affecting people's lives, playing for championships, encouraging a degree, setting people on a path that will benefit them. I think that happened for me at Michigan and hopefully it's happening for others at LSU and I like being part of that here. This is a wonderful place and I’m thrilled to be the LSU coach.”


LSU opens the 2011 season on September 3 against BCS title runner-up Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  LSU football season ticket holders can place orders now by going to and clicking on “Season Renewals.”


(LSU Press release)


 Transcript of Wednesday's news conference at LSU:


LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva

Opening Statement…

“Thank you for coming today and thank you for your patience during this process. Obviously, we are here today to announce the fact that Coach Les Miles is going to continue to be our coach. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. I want to thank Coach Miles for the way that he handled the process. I think that he handled it with class and dignity in a tough situation with his alma mater.. He handled it in a first class manner, just like he handles everything. It’s much easier to build a program than it is to sustain a program. We’re in a sustain mode right now. If you look at the great coaches in history, the great coaches in history are the ones who built their programs and sustained them. He has been here for six year. He’s built and sustained this program, and that is what we are going to do for the next seven years and hopefully beyond that. It gives me great pleasure to introduce our Coach Les Miles.”


Head Coach Les Miles

Opening Statement…

“Any time that you make a decision like I made, a lot of factors play into it. First of all, you want to make sure that the people that you work with respect the job that has been done. I really feel like Chancellor Michael Martin and Joe Alleva expressed that very comfortably. Then, you realize you work for these people. You work for the coaches that you brought here and their families. You work for the people in your building that are administrators. You work for those six years of recruiting classes, those young men that you asked to do very difficult things over time for their school. You work for the 92,500 that come into a stadium. I look at those people when making a decision of where we needed to be. My family is extremely happy in the state of Louisiana. I can’t tell you how much we enjoy the people here in this state. The opportunity to represent a great community, state and a magnificent school, there is just too much here to leave. Certainly, it was important that I visited with my alma mater. I certainly wish Michigan the best. I will forever be and want to be, a supporter of that institution that invested so greatly in myself. But, I am an LSU Tiger and I look forward to being an LSU Tiger for quite some time.”


On if there was ever a point he felt he would leave for Michigan…

“I think any time that you vision a decision there is a potential for another outcome. You look at it and judge it effectively. I could not have met with Michigan without the potential of a different outcome. In your waking hours, the 4 a.m. in the morning talk with your wife or that drive home from the office, there are those moments where you put it in line and you structure the decision. I always allowed for that, but it kept comfortably returning to the people and the commitment. I enjoy this community. I have distant friends or acquaintances that I enjoy representing. The reason I put it that way is because my car goes most comfortably from the office and back, but in between there are some wonderful people in this community and this state that I enjoy very much.”


On factors affecting his decision and the process…

“I can’t really tell you. Maybe last night at that moment early in the morning when you give thought to things that are most important. We gave an opportunity for our family to weigh in on it. Every one of my children is so happy here and enjoys being here with their friends and their things. That is not something that necessarily cannot be replaced, but it did tell me that they are happy here. That was an important factor. I think the decision was made more about the people we represent and the commitment to being here. I’ve told the guys that I’ve recruited because they always ask ‘tell me the length of your contract and are you going to be here,’ and I answered that very honestly, that this is the place that I want to be for some time. There are other opportunities that never made the paper. There are other jobs that were run by me that I declined. This one was too important to me and had to be public. I really appreciate the patience of the administration. I communicated very openly and honestly just as fast as I could what was going on. I wanted to make sure that everyone was informed. When I was going to talk to Michigan, I walked right up to Joe Alleva’s office and told him that a call had been placed and the meeting had been moved up. They handled it extremely well.”


On his new seven year contract…

“The contract is appreciably the same contract that I’ve had. I don’t know that there was any applied pressure by me to change it appreciably, but there was a desire by the administration to execute it and operate it in a timely fashion to show me that this was going to be done. That was all I really needed to see. I promise you this; this was not a bidding war in any way. I guess what I’m saying is I want to be here. We might have a bump here or two, but we are going to get to the top. The opportunity for LSU to play for a championship, and I can argue that this year we were pretty close to play for the National Championship ourselves, the opportunity is here annually and we will continue to recruit well. The school, the academic support and the opportunities young people have when they come on this campus compare to any in the country. I think that long term this a place that can win and win greatly. To have a contract that should get you by a rough year will allow me to help get to the championships and the great times as we go forward. For me, the tenure has always been more important to me than the actual annual salary.”


On how much what he built at LSU over the past few years played a role in his decision…

“It really was not in comparison. Michigan will rise again. They will have great success. That is a wonderful place to go to school, and the people there are committed to helping their athletes. Frankly, the credential of the Michigan education will hold you in great stead, and I’m living proof of that, but the people that I coach and the people. Sam Montgomery, who had a knee surgery who I ride back with on the bus after the bowl is talking to Tyrann Mathieu, two really good young players but really two really good young people, and I told them I was going to be here when I recruited them, and for me not to respect those people that I committed to is just very difficult for me to discount that. It’s not the teams. It’s not the victories. It’s not the accomplishments I should say; it’s really the team and these people. I like these people. I like working for (Michael) Bonnette and Sam Nader and Frank Wilson and Steve Ensminger. Those are the guys that I respect in this decision. I think my strength and my weakness is loyalty, and I will always see it as a strength.”


On if he feels this is his last coaching job…

“I’m one of those guys who believe that where you are at is where you live your life. I began an opportunity to see and evaluate the state of Louisiana and the people. Six years ago when I got here, my eyes are wide, and I didn’t understand what I was about to run into. I was told, but it’s kind of like the first time you ride in a plane. They tell you this is how it’s going to feel like, and your eyes get big and however old I was, it was the first experience. I want you to know that I went through a couple of plane rides here and taking the field at Tiger Stadium, the people that are so passionate, that was a word that was descriptive to me of what I was going to feel. It is now a feeling I have about our fan base, a wild, passionate group of people. Six years ago I didn’t know what I was getting into. Now, six years later I really have enjoyed that ride, and I want that to continue. I enjoy, again, representing those people that have surrounded this program for time.”


On if expects to hear more from his underclassmen who may declare for the NFL Draft…

“I think Stevan Ridley certainly is a guy who is still considering the NFL Draft. It would be a plan of mine to visit with him and go through this. I don’t think that my staying or my departure is necessarily a significant piece in some regard, but certainly any of those guys who needed to know that the program was going to be in place and the issues were not going to change, those guys would feel pretty comfortable about where we’re at and what we’re doing. The next year’s work is recruiting and putting the off-season program in place and making sure those juniors come back, and that’s ongoing.”


On if he anticipates making any coaching staff changes…

“I really don’t know exactly what to tell you. I normally have a staff meeting on Thursday morning. I’m not really ready to say there won’t be some changes in the staff. I don’t know that I necessarily am going to be the factor there as opposed to other great opportunities, so we’ll have to see how that goes.”


On if he ever felt underappreciated when he received criticism early in the season…

“Criticism is a position that in the position I hold, I certainly have to understand. At times my inability to communicate exactly what’s going on or how we are going to address it and why is based on what is best for the program. If you look back on some of the issues throughout the season, the only thing that the coach may well have done very, very well was protect his team, and at times that’s the most important job that you have. Frankly, that’s the position I have, and that would be the same, in my mind, in any number of places. I am against booing. Booing is not something that I have ever done nor that I understand. It’s the antithesis -- that means the opposite -- of positive. Booing is completely and entirely negative, but somebody spoke about another great institution that was not having a great year and said that in fact there was not any of that in the crowd. I smiled and gave thought to that. First of all, I said, ‘How positive that is that those people did not do that.’ Then I thought about my stadium, and I said, ‘I bet you those people don’t scream loudly when a great play is made. I bet you those people don’t show up at the walk. I bet you those people don’t sing the alma mater at the end of the game, and I bet you those people don’t have tears in their eyes when the Tigers take the field.’ I began to understand that as a part of love and appreciation for a team, just occasionally 2,500 knuckleheads might boo. I think I might want to be at a place where they care greatly for the work that you do and that it’s important that you do it well. If that means that very rarely one or two guys might boo, I kind of understand.” 

 (LSU Press release)

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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