Sports Illustrated's second installment of its five-part series on Oklahoma State football, titled "The Academics" was published Wednesday morning.
There are three more installments to go—"The Drugs", "The Sex" and "The Fallout"—but this is the first time LSU coach Les Miles, who coached the Cowboys from 2001-04, is more extensively mentioned.
In fact, he's mentioned in the first paragraph of "The Academics" as a coach with a philosophy: academics first, football second.
Except it reportedly was the other way around:
As Miles said, "Academics first," he would hold up two fingers. And as he said, "Football second," he would hold up one.
"You heard his words but you saw what he was doing," says Doug Bond, a Cowboys offensive lineman from 2002 to '04. "So the thought process was that you're going to school just so you can play football."
Miles denied downplaying academics at OSU to SI and called the gestures, in a way that only Miles could, "a moment of humor."
Miles further addressed the accusations in Wednesday's SEC conference call.
"I can tell you that people that were commenting on the state of the program weren't there long enough to figure it out. They heard me tell them attend class, do the right things and heard me routinely. I'm going to withhold further comment," Miles said via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I can tell you that staff, family and friends, anybody that sat in our meeting rooms, knew that this thing was done right. I want to withhold further comment to get my team ready to play against a quality Kent State. That's my push."
However, none of that jibes with what OSU's academic adviser, who, for what it's worth, doesn't have a background in academia, said about Miles during his time in Stillwater:
Terry Henley, an academic adviser for football since 2000, denies the players' allegations that he scheduled them in easy classes and steered them to majors, but concedes that academics weren't a priority for Miles. "There was never pressure [to cheat], but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else," said Henley. "They're going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they're not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is. So, no, he didn't promote academics."
The "win at all costs" mentality alluded to in the SI piece isn't limited to Oklahoma State—rather, it's something that has made its way to just about every corner of college football.
Though Oklahoma State is at the center of the series, LSU is now indirectly connected through Miles. But that doesn't necessarily mean it has reason to be overly concerned.
Former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman told the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Tuesday that no NCAA concerns came up when the university hired Miles in 2004.
"We did an extensive background check on a personal basis, and there was also a background check on the University per se," Bertman said. "Nothing showed in terms of NCAA issues—nothing."
Even if that's not true, there's likely no reason for LSU to be sweating this one out.
"The Academics" does allege that multiple players committed academic misconduct when Miles was the head coach, but the accusations are beyond the NCAA's statute of limitations.
Without ruling anything out officially, it seems unlikely at this time that what's being reported about Oklahoma State will come back to haunt Miles.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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