With the NCAA’s historic sanctions against Penn State stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal as a backdrop, LSU coach Les Miles began a series of appearances on a variety of ESPN platforms Monday at the network’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
During an appearance Monday morning on SportsCenter, Miles told ESPN’s Chris Fowler that he supported the NCAA’s sanctions.
“I think what college football needed was a reaction from the NCAA,” Miles said. “(NCAA President and former LSU Chancellor) Mark Emmert did that. I think we’re all in support. He needed to make a statement and he did.”
Asked what needs to be the reaction of new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, Miles said he must move quickly to establish the culture of his program.
“There are a lot of people saying what he should do,” Miles said. “He’s wearing the hat today. I wish him the very best.”
Later in the day, Miles said on ESPNU he hopes the NCAA sanctions on Penn State can be a “watershed moment” that allows college football to heal and move forward.
“We want to get to that piece where we can be college football again,” Miles said. “There are so many different groups to give consideration to. Certainly the young people involved, but parents, players, people at the school.
“OK, let’s get it right. Let the chips fall where they may and let’s go. Remember, it’s all about the direction.”
Penn State players have been given permission to transfer and be eligible immediately. Miles was not asked whether LSU would reach out to any of those players.
Miles was asked about his team’s preparations for this coming season in the wake of January’s 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS national championship game. Miles said there was a wound and now there is a scar on his team’s psyche, but that he likes what he sees with preseason practice set to begin next week.
“I like my team,” Miles said. “I like their attitude.”
As for junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, Miles said: “We’re going to take the pressure off. We just want him to play the position. If he doesn’t get ahead of himself, we will be very good at quarterback.”
Miles was also asked about what kind of season he forsees from senior wide receiver Russell Shepard.
“I think Russell will be a better more productive reciever than he’s ever been,” Miles said during an ESPN.com chat. “His commitment to the team, himself is better than ever.”
On a lighter note, Miles was asked during the chat about his “feud” with LSU’s Mike the Tiger mascot stemming from their EA Sports commercial for its “College Football 13″ video game.
“We’re still not speaking,” Miles answered, tongue in cheek. “Because he chooses not to. I certainly hope we can resolve this issue before we get to Saturday nights.”
Penn State was fined $60 million by the NCAA, was slapped with a four-year bowl ban and saw a reduction in scholarship offers to 15 per year for four years with a maximum of 65 scholarships total.
Additionally, the Big Ten banned Penn State from its conference championship game for the next four years and docked the school $13 million in bowl revenues over that span. Both the NCAA and Big Ten fines will be channeled into funds dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.
In addition, Penn State was forced to vacate 112 wins – 111 of those under former coach Joe Paterno – from 1998-2011. That includes a 19-17 victory over LSU in the 2010 Capital One Bowl.
It was not initially believed that LSU would be credited for winning that game. However, the vacated wins changes Paterno’s official record to 298 wins, making former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson (408 wins) once again the winningest coach in college football history.