Miles met with the media for the first time since his team’s lopsided win against AU, which coupled with Alabama’s 37-6 triumph over Tennessee later that day assured a first-ever battle of Nos. 1 and 2 SEC teams in the regular season.
After some talk about practice and warmup questions, Miles was asked about the three players and their return. The three were “withheld from play,” Miles said for allegedly flunking an athletic department-administered drug test. No LSU officials, including Miles, have verified the reason for the players’ absence.
“Those guys were at practice (Tuesday),” Miles said. “If they continue to do the things they’re doing. we would anticipate that they will play.”
Earlier Tuesday, LSU Chancellor Mike Martin said in a story at USAToday.com that the decision on whether the players will be available for the showdown with the Crimson Tide on Nov. 5 will be made by Athletic Director Joe Alleva after consultation.
A source close to the football program said the final call will be up to Miles after the players meet several requirements which could include but aren’t limited to some counseling.
"They have been directed to some counseling, and they will now be subject to greater scrutiny for the remainder of their time at LSU,” Martin said to the USA Today reporter. He declined to acknowledge whether the players violated a substance abuse policy.
"Fortunately, for them and the team, they have two weeks to get their act together because we have a bye week."
Asked if the decision whether the players would return against Alabama was solely his, Miles said. “It’s certainly one in conjunction with the rules and regulations of the school and the institution. They fall very comfortably under those guidelines.”
Miles also said he didn’t have a specific timeframe in mind to declare whether the three starters would be available.
“We’re not going to live in deadlines in any way. I think we’re practicing them, preparing them to play and operating along that way.
“We’re going to practice them and plan on using them.”
So, were Ware, Mathieu and Simon suspended? That was the wording used in an announcement prior to kickoff in the Tiger Stadium press box on Saturday. The reason given was for violation of team rules.
That doesn’t match what Miles was saying Tuesday.
“I don’t recall that I ever suspended them to you guys. Am I right?” Miles said.
“We’ve operated as this discipline would be internal and that we would handle it in that way and our guys would return to practice.”
Pressed on what it was if not a suspension, that was when Miles said “We withheld them from play.”
Regardless of the semantics, the players were back at work Tuesday, Miles saying they “Enjoyed being with their team, worked hard. Were missed.”
Whether those three will return to the starting lineup if they play is also up in the air.
“I haven’t checked the depth chart just lately,” Miles said.
“I think those three guys will do their part and do their share. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable with who we put on the field. These guys returning to action, we’re looking forward to it.”
Although the three players’ statuses dominated the session, there was some other news.
--- Center PJ Lonergan “practiced the whole time” and could’ve played against Auburn.
--- Defensive end Kendrick Adams “worked out, but we did not get him snaps.” Miles said Adams, who missed the Auburn game with a knee injury, is much improved and will get some snaps soon.
--- Sophomore defensive end Barkevious Mingo was a star against Auburn with a pair of sacks.
“He could be an every-down guy,” Miles said. “He’s really just coming. His contributions Saturday were excellent. What he did coming down on kickoffs – Wow! I have no problem with KeKe being every down.”
--- There was a light moment when Miles was asked if he’s had any extra ticket requests for the Alabama game.
“I am out the ticket business,” he said. “(When) I married my wife, I got out of the ticker business. She’s responsible, her and (administrative assistant) Ya’el Lofton. All I say when anybody calls me any time about any game is ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ Then I say to Ya’el or Kathy ‘Can’t you do that?’ And I don’t worry about it.”