If you've read SB Nation's recap of SEC Media Days, you already know there were several bizarre things that Les Miles said. But that misses perhaps the most bizarre thing that Miles said during his turn at the podium, which came when a reporter asked him about "identity on offense seem[ing to be] a little bit of an issue."
We kind of like our identity last year, to be honest with you. We felt like we ran the football well and had good balance when we executed.
This was news to the reporters in the room, and anyone who followed LSU football last year, for a few key reasons. First is that no one was aware that LSU's offense had an identity. Secondly, former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's decision to go to Maryland was widely rumored to be "encouraged" by Miles. Finally, the man who was brought in to replace Gary Crowton was Steve Kragthorpe. When the replacement for your offensive coordinator is Steve Kragthorpe, that speaks volumes about how important you believe your offensive identity to be.
But the more intriguing immediate issue was the replacement of Russell Shepard with the funny and entertaining T-Bob Hebert. Miles pretended to be unaware of the reason for Shepard's absence, which is only plausible if Miles' program is managed as chaotically as the last two minutes of his football games.
I don't know exactly the specifics of that. The only thing I can tell you is this was an issue where there were some things that he had to handle in his personal life that needed an immediate resolution, so that's why he's not with us.
The "issue ... in his personal life" seems very much to intersect with an interest by the NCAA in his personal life. Apparently, Shepard's issues include living with an LSU employee in a way that is frowned upon by the association. (Though because she is a student employee, it could be something asinine like questioning why she covered his rent for a month. It is the NCAA.) (HT: CFT, which also notes the likely origins of some of ESPN's information.)
If there was any news out of Miles' press conference, that was it. Shepard is the second-leading receiver among LSU's returning starters at the position, meaning that losing games could help hurt LSU's offensive identity and the prospects that Jordan Jefferson could bloom into a quarterback who approaches his potential this year. That LSU felt it necessary to hold Shepard out of SEC Media Days can't be a positive sign.
We'll know the answer to that soon enough, in all likelihood, and find out whether the answers Miles offered were just another one of the odd things that he said or an attempt to hide what could become a big part of LSU's 2011 season.