MOBILE, Ala. – As the Les Miles saga played out at LSU this fall and it looked inevitable that he would be fired, star linebacker Deion Jones said the team was hurt and shocked.
For Jones, the whole episode was unfortunate and he’s happy for many reasons that the power brokers in Baton Rouge decided to keep Miles on for at least another season.
“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Jones said this week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. “He was one of the reasons I came to LSU. He sat in my house, made me feel comfortable, made my parents feel comfortable with me coming there.
“It was always a childhood dream to play for him. It kind of hurt a little bit.”
Jones, who led the Tigers with 100 tackles this season, raved about Miles just like other players did. After the Texas A&M win, when Miles was supposed to be canned, fans at LSU chanted his name and players carried him off the field.
It was a storybook scene playing out in real life.
And Jones said it’s all because Miles is loved by his players and they didn’t want to see him go. Miles and LSU are also killing it on the recruiting trail this cycle with the second-best class in the country, tops in the SEC.
“He’s a players’ coach,” Jones said. “He’s always holding us accountable for our actions. He’s a motivator. He knows exactly what to say. He’s like a father on the team. He plays that father role for us.”
It was a headline-filled season for the Tigers, both good and bad.
After starting 7-0 and it looking like a sure thing that running back Leonard Fournette would be the Heisman Trophy winner, the wheels fell off in blowout losses to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
That’s when the rumors started flying that Miles was done in Baton Rouge. That’s when LSU beat Texas A&M and it was decided he would stay, and then the Tigers whooped Texas Tech in the bowl game.
Fournette ended up with fantastic numbers this season but LSU’s late-season slide stymied his Heisman chances. Jones is confident Fournette will be back in the hunt next season.
“We’re a tough team,” Jones said. “We love grounding and pounding. It’s one of the aspects of our team. He handled it pretty well. He did everything we asked of him. I couldn’t ask for any more.
“He’s amazing. He’s an amazing father, great teammate, if you need him he’s always there. He’s a leader, too. He really helped us with that leadership role and like I said he’s a well-rounded guy.”