Alabama sophomore defensive end Luther Davis stirred up the emotions of an already charged week Tuesday when he said Miles made disparaging remarks when Davis changed his commitment from LSU to the Crimson Tide shortly after Nick Saban was hired in 2007.
A West Monroe native, Davis pledged to the Tigers but then took a visit to Tuscaloosa shortly after Saban arrived.
Once the LSU coaches learned of the visit – apparently Davis concocted a story about attending a funeral – they withdrew their scholarship offer.
“He was pretty upset," Davis said in a story published Tuesday on www.al.com, the Web site of the Birmingham News. "It went from him trying to talk to me, to calling me a traitor and telling me I'm only doing this because the devil has come back to college football and trying to create a big buzz. But it wasn't at all about that. The fact that he got mad when I took a visit showed me I would've been just another number on the team."
Early in the day Wednesday, Miles was asked about the devil comment during the weekly SEC coaches’ teleconference.
“Oh my gosh, no,” Miles said. “Are you kidding me?"
Later Wednesday, Miles took a diplomatic approach to Davis’ comments.
“Unbelievable,” Miles said when prompted about the devil remark. “I promise you that’s not my language and that’s certainly not how I think. I really don’t think about the opponent’s coaches. I’ve got way too much going on in my life to worry about those things.
“Certainly we think it’s the best place for (Davis) to be and we wish him the very best.”
Pressed on where he thought Davis’ comments came from, Miles said “As I recall there was a visit that he said he wasn’t taking, and when we found out he was taking that visit, in fact that was really the end of our commitment to him.”
On the field, the Tigers went through their final heavy work day in preparation of the Alabama game.
“It was a good practice,” Miles said. “We tend to cut back this time of the year. We stayed on a reduced schedule and I felt like we got a lot accomplished.
“I liked the practice. There was great enthusiasm and the guys look forward to playing a very quality football team in Alabama. We certainly welcome the No. 1 football team into town.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee has been a target of fans’ criticism lately, including a wave of boos late in a 35-10 victory over Tulane last week. Miles took the fans to task Saturday and Lee’s teammates were critical of the fans actions earlier this week.
Lee has thrown 10 interceptions this season, five that have been taken back for touchdowns. He has seemed mostly unfazed by the mistakes and is having a strong week of practice, according to Miles.
“The quarterback was pretty sharp (Wednesday),” Miles said. “Everything he threw was pretty close, if not on the money.”
Whether Lee is ready or not, he will likely take most if not all snaps against the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Andrew Hatch missed last week’s game with a lower leg injury and is “legitimately out” for Alabama, Miles said.
True freshman Jordan Jefferson has taken half the snaps in practice this week after taking the reins of the offense for the final series vs. the Green Wave. Miles said Jefferson “threw the ball extremely well” and is “much more prepared to play.”
Asked if Jefferson was nervous about the prospect of facing the No. 1 team, Miles shook his head and said “Some guys are cut emotionally where this is just a game to them.”
Senior safety Curtis Taylor’s status is also up in the air. Taylor has been limited the last two games with back and shoulder injuries. He logged only a handful of plays against Tulane.
Defensive tackle Drake Nevis has sat out the last two contests with an ailing ankle. But Miles said Nevis is “pretty fresh” and the coach is certain Nevis “will play a lot.”
Miles also fielded what have become the inevitable questions this week about the coaching matchup with Saban, the man who guided the Tigers from 2000-04 and led LSU to the 2003 national championship.
“I don’t know that anybody is this building has any serious reservations one way or another,” Miles said. “Preparations have been about this team and not who’s coaching Alabama.
“Coach Saban accomplished a lot here and his history is significant at LSU, but we’ve moved on.”
Saturday’s game will be the first time since 1997 the Tigers have hosted the No. 1 team in the country and just the seventh time overall.
As big as that might seem, Miles said the magnitude of the game itself and the ramifications it has on the SEC West standings take precedence.
“I don’t know that the significance of (playing No. 1) is as important as this one game,” he said.