LSU Coach Mute On Vacant Michigan Job

FAYETTEVILLE — LSU coach Les Miles didn't want to talk about jobs Monday afternoon. In his opinion, he has a pretty good one right now.

The Tigers' third-year coach is in charge of the country's top-ranked team. He has an impressive assortment of talent at his fingertips, starting with mammoth defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. LSU already has clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game in two weeks and, with two more wins, can assure itself of playing for the national title.

So when Miles answered to the ongoing speculation he will be Michigan's next coach, he vowed it won't distract his team this week as it prepares for the regular season finale against Arkansas.

"Nothing is going to sabotage (Friday's) game," Miles said. "That game is going to be played as well as we can play it. Our opponent will play well and we will play well. I like our matchup. I like that it's in our stadium. I like that it's on Friday. There's no sabotage."

In case you hadn't heard, Miles is widely considered the target of Michigan's coaching search after long-time coach Lloyd Carr announced his retirement Monday. Miles, a Michigan alum, spent a big chunk of his weekly press conference trying to deflect the talk.

He said LSU already has enough on its mind during a topsy-turvy season in which several national championship hopefuls have fallen by the wayside because of shocking upsets.

"I don't want to talk about jobs," Miles said. "I don't care about jobs. I don't want to involve myself in that thought process. It's counter-productive to preparation. I don't care about it."

LSU doesn't need any distractions, either. There's enough at stake.

The Tigers are talented, but showed they're not immune to upsets in mid-October. LSU was No. 1 when quarterback Andre' Woodson led the Wildcats to a 43-37, triple overtime win in Lexington, Ky., knocking the Tigers out of the title hunt. Or so it seemed.

But LSU has reclaimed the top spot behind its own propensity to survive nail-biting finishes. The Tigers' last-second touchdown pass that beat Auburn 30-24 in late October was unbelievable. The late turnover and score in the 41-34 win at Alabama two weeks later was equally remarkable.

The Tigers know they'll have to make similar plays against Arkansas.

"This is not just show up, this is play for something very important and we look forward to it," Miles said. "The (Golden) Boot has added significance to us. We've won it the last (four) times. But I promise you this victory sets up the next two games that we play. There's nothing that we'll go by. Our preparation for Arkansas will be very sincere. I promise you that we'll play well."

LSU's last loss to Arkansas came in War Memorial Stadium in 2002, when former quarterback Matt   Jones delivered the "Miracle on Markham." The Tigers have won four straight and are favored again in Baton Rouge, where the Razorbacks haven't won since 1993.

But coach Houston Nutt said Arkansas would love to end that streak and throw another wrench into the national title picture.

"With them being rated No. 1 that's the first highlight on every show — LSU," Nutt said Sunday. "They're going to show what they did. The opponent happens to be the University of Arkansas this week. Let's do everything to get ready in a very short week. Play the best ballgame we can and see what happens."

LSU safety Craig Steltz said the Razorbacks should expect the same from the Tigers.

Steltz is part of an impressive senior class — which also includes Dorsey, running back Jacob Hester and quarterback Matt Flynn — that will be honored before Friday's game in Tiger Stadium. The veterans have been integral parts of Miles' three seasons with the Tigers. LSU is 31-5 the past three seasons, which includes a 19-4 mark in the SEC.

But the Tigers don't have an SEC title or national championship during that stretch. So trying to avoid a late-season crash is plenty of reason to tune out the Miles to Michigan talk.

"It keeps you on your toes," Steltz said about the upsets this season. "It makes you focus each week. You know that if you don't prepare each week and focus each week you're going to get upset. ... Coach Miles does a great job of keeping us focused, knowing that we're going to get everybody's best game. If we don't return the favor, we'll get upset."

Miles said the overwhelming talk of his job status could affect many, but "not this team."

Instead, he said all its energy will be devoted to taking the next step to a title Friday.

"I promise you this: What I'm doing is what you should do. Let it rest," Miles said about Michigan talk. "I'm playing football for LSU. I'm preparing for Arkansas. I'm preparing for the next game and the next game after that."

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