ATLANTA -- Les Miles wouldn’t go there when The Question was asked.
It’s obvious that No. 1 LSU can afford to lose Saturday and still play for the national championship. That has led to the anti-climatic nature of the SEC title game here on Saturday. But LSU’s coach obviously didn’t want to consider the option of losing Friday when asked if a team that hasn’t won its conference should be allowed to play in the big game.
“I have a very strong opinion,” said Miles who then paused a few seconds. “It will be something I will share with you some other time in my life.”
Unspoken answer: You’re damn right we should be in the championship game. We’ve beaten seven ranked teams, three in the top three including Alabama.
The question was phrased another way during Friday’s pre-game press conferences: Should LSU be in the BCS title game win or lose?
“I have given little thought to that,” Miles said. “I do know that that is an issue out there for other folks. It’s not one for us. We’ve talked about it several times but not about the ‘What ifs.’ It’s about what we’ve accomplished at this point.”
Miles has an ally in Georgia coach Mark Richt. The Bulldogs were fourth going in the BCS going into the final weekend of the 2007 season behind Ohio State, West Virginia and Missouri. Missouri and West Virginia lost, leaving a bunch of two-loss teams (and one-loss Kansas which had completed its season) to compete for the other top-two spot.
LSU jumped Georgia that year, vaulting from No. 7 to No. 2 in the final BCS standings after winning the SEC title game over Tennessee. At that point Georgia was 10-2 having lost only to South Carolina and Tennessee. The Dawgs won their final seven regular-season games, finishing fifth in the BCS behind Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, LSU and Ohio State.
So much for a non-conference winner playing for it all. It has actually happened twice in BCS history -- Nebraska (2001) and Oklahoma (2003). Georgia did have a nice consolation prize that year, beating the snot out of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
“The bottom line is when you play a game or have a season or have a system there’s certain rules that you abide by,” Richt said. “If the rules say you must be conference champion then that’s the way it is. If the rules don’t say that then I don’t you have to be the conference championship to play in that [BCS title] game.
“ … Why should somebody go stumping and try to convince everybody that should be part of the criteria when it’s not?”
When told he had tap-danced nicely around the issue Friday, Miles told CBSSports.com, "Best I can do."