VIDEO: ESPN's in-depth coverage of LSU before the Alabama game

ESPN The Magazine went all in on coverage of November 3 LSU-Alabama game, giving readers (and viewers) and inside-out look at the LSU program.

Writer Wright Thomspon was embedded with Les Miles throughout the week of the game. His feature is quite a long one but worth your time. 

My favorite Miles anecdote comes at the beginning with Thompson at Miles' home watching football on TV during LSU's bye week. A snippet: 

As Bob Stoops rants at a ref on this rare free Saturday, Miles grins and says, "Give 'em hell, Bob!" Just before the kickoff of the Alabama game, he did frenzied circles in the kitchen, opening the freezer, drawers, looking through the pantry and bellowing in his Coach Voice: "I know there's candy around here somewhere. Where is the Halloween candy!?"

The majority of the piece focuses on just how much the Alabama game means to Miles, especially in light of January's National Championship, and how much big games like the one in question take out of Miles. A regularly cited figure throughout the feature, Alabama marked LSU's 11th game versus a top five foe since its 2007 national championship. 

ESPN The Magazine also took viewers inside three three parts of the body of LSU football.

Here's a look on the field at Tiger Stadium:

A trip inside the LSU weight room:

And, finally, a look at the LSU equipment room:

Vandy AD: "We're prepared to do what we need to do to keep James Franklin"

One of the more consistent names that we've heard brought up when coaching vacancies have been talked about over the past two off seasons is Vanderbilt's James Franklin. Coach Franklin and his staff have led the Commodores to back to back bowl eligible seasons for the first time in school history, and athletic director David Williams wants to make it clear that they're going to do everything they can to keep Franklin in Nashville.

“Whether it is an extension, whether it is changing terms, whether it is ripping [the contract] up and giving a new one, we’re prepared to do what we need to do for James Franklin to be the football coach. James and I meet every week, including this morning, and I think we’re both on the same page that we expect next year when we kick off in the opening game against Mississippi that James Franklin will still be at the helm of Vanderbilt football. I have every expectation of that.” Williams told the Nashville City Paper earlier this week.

“I think he has had a great season, and it’s not over. In my 13 years we’ve been eligible for bowls three times. This is the first time in my 13 years that we’ve been bowl-eligible with still two games to play." 

Franklin earned a contract extension after last season's 6-6 regular season finish, and Vanderbilt has also shown that they're serious by recently breaking ground on a new indoor practice facility that they'll be able to use next October.

“I can’t predict what happens five, 10 years from now but I think James likes it here. He’s had success here. We certainly like having James here. I think we’re working on changing a lot of things as it relates to how football has been approached at Vanderbilt." Williams explained. "As long as we can continue to do that we don’t really have to worry about looking for something else.

“As James tells the kids, what can you ask for? You get to play in the SEC, you get to live in one of the best cities in the United States and you’re with one of the greatest universities in the world. Why would you leave?”

Given the high profile success that Franklin has had over in such a short period of time, it makes sense that many athletic directors want him leading their football programs, and we're confident that at least a few administrators have reached out to gauge his interest in leaving Nashville. But Williams has a good point...you're coaching in the greatest football conference in the country, live in one of the best cities in the nation, and get to sell one of the top educations in the world to recruits.

With all of that said, don't expect Franklin's name to get quieter as jobs open up. Him and his staff are doing a tremendous job and have a promising future.



"The first thing I do when I talk to a commit is try to talk them out of it"

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is one of many coaches that would like to see an early signing period in college football.

"It's ridiculous that we don't have one," Dabo explained. "It's a waste of a lot of peoples time, it's a waste of a lot of money and it creates a lot of the garbage that goes on in recruiting, to be honest with you. A lot of that would be eliminated."

Dabo noted that an early signing period would relieve a lot of headaches for a coaching staff, and also allow recruits to truly enjoy their senior year.

"If a guy is committed, and he's still taking visits, then he's not committed. Now, that's his right, but you can't expect us to hold someone's scholarship for them and be more committed to them than they are to us. That's just the way that I deal with it.

"If you had a signing day in September, or let's say October 1, well if those guys don't sign with you, well then you know that they're not committed. You know then that you better get to work and make sure that we're going to be able to fill our numbers because we can't count on these guys. The flip side of that is that all of those guys that sign with you because they know what they want to do, then they can enjoy their senior year and enjoy the confidence of knowing that they got their scholarship."

Swinney then explained that he tells recruits how he views commitment up front, so that there's no misunderstandings later on.

"I'm sure the coaches cringe every time that they bring a guy in there to me that wants to talk to me about committing. That's why nobody can take a commitment from me, because I am going to have the same conversation with everybody so that nobody can say 'Well we didn't say this or that'."

"If you want to commit, and you're sure that you want to commit, the first thing that I do is try to talk them out of it. And if they are, then I'll ask them some questions and talk about it, and then I define it so we can both agree on a definition so then nobody is mad." Dabo said. "Some people want to call and make a reservation and then call up and cancel it later, that's just not how we operate."

Obviously this strategy won't work for coaches at every level or at every university, but attempting to talk a recruit out of committing to test his commitment is an interesting (and likely very effective) strategy. Swinney and his staff obviously want to get guys that are all on board. His thoughts on an early signing day also make a lot of sense, especially looking at it from the student athletes perspective that would allow them to focus on enjoying their final year of high school.

Hear more from Dabo below.


Thursday TV - ACC and NFL games tonight

North Carolina and Virginia are on ESPN tonight, and the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills square off on the NFL Network.

Eastern time listed.


Miami at Buffalo - 8:20 - NFL Network


North Carolina at Virginia - 7:30 - ESPN

High School:

No games

Ball State rollin out black unis tonight

Ball State hosts Ohio tonight in what should be an excellent football game. Good teams, excellent coaches, #MACtion... should be a great one (8pm est / ESPNU).

Check out the new unis that Ball State is rollin out!

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