Was it swan song for Miles as Tigers coach?
ARLINGTON, Texas – Surrounded by his LSU players, coach Les Miles loudly and proudly sang the school fight song Friday night and savored the celebration of the Tigers’ first Cotton Bowl victory in 45 years.
It might have been a farewell to the Bayou. Nobody knows with Miles likely a leading candidate for the coaching vacancy at Michigan, where he played and was an assistant coach.
When asked immediately after the game if he’d be back next season, there was an extended pause before Miles responded, “It’s a wonderful place. I love it here.” He said he has not been contacted by his alma mater.
Jordan Jefferson threw three touchdown passes to Terrence Toliver and ran for a score to help the 11th-ranked Tigers rally for a 41-24 victory over No. 18 Texas A&M in the 75th Cotton Bowl.
“We trust Les Miles and we trust his word,” Jefferson said. “His word was he’s not going anywhere and he’ll be our coach next year.”
In the days leading up to the Cotton Bowl, Miles said his focus was on his Tigers and that he enjoyed where he was.
But LSU (11-2) has now completed its fourth season with at least 11 wins in Miles’ six years. The Tigers had only two 11-win seasons before that, and hadn’t won the Cotton Bowl since 1966.
“I don’t want to talk about me. This is really about LSU,” Miles said. “I told (the players) I have not had any conversations with Michigan at this point. And if I did, I would communicate with them very effectively.”
Texas A&M (9-4) led 10-0 in the first quarter, including a field goal after Jefferson threw an interception, but had its six-game winning streak snapped.
It was the 50th game between the border-state schools, but the first since the 1995 opener. Texas A&M had won the previous five in a series not likely to be renewed any time soon.
Jefferson was 10 of 19 for 158 yards with scoring passes of 42, 2 and 41 yards to Toliver, who had only two TD catches in the regular season.
LSU went ahead for good when Stevan Ridley had a a 17-yard TD run, jumping over a defender near the line and then sweeping right untouched into the end zone for a 21-17 lead with 4:43 left in the first half.
Ryan Tannehill, who had been 5-0 since taking over as the Aggies starting quarterback, then threw two interceptions in a span of three throws – after 127 consecutive attempts without a pick.