TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Often as reporters, we find ourselves quoting people knowing that they are probably lying. Football coaches, athletic directors, sports information directors, players and players' parents often lie.
LSU coach Les Miles lies about injuries more than any coach I have ever worked with in 25 years in the business, but Miles is honest about his lies. He even said the day he was introduced as LSU's coach that he would not be honest about injuries. At this moment, he is not being completely truthful about backup quarterback Andrew Hatch. Miles has said Hatch is "doubtful" for Saturday's game against Alabama with a leg injury. In reality, Hatch is likely out for the year with a hairline fracture in his leg suffered in the Georgia game. Miles did not want this out just yet so that Alabama would mistakenly prepare for Hatch's very good running skills.
Coaches do this often, and it is understandable. They have to lie at times for strategic purposes, even though in this case Alabama is preparing for the speed option of Hatch anyway because true freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson can do the same thing. So what's the difference?
Which brings us to Alabama defensive end Luther Davis of West Monroe High. When Davis began running his mouth on Tuesday night about as much as he has run in games this season in an interview session with several reporters, the reporters knew that there was a good chance Davis was not being completely truthful. But his comments made papers all over Alabama and the Gannett papers in Louisiana Wednesday because if reporters didn't run quotes they thought were lies, the newspapers would be very empty.
This is why my story included the fact that Davis had lied to LSU coaches back in the 2006-07 recruiting season about not visiting Alabama, and he did. That was put in as a service to readers so they would understand a credibility issue with the speaker. I also included the fact that West Monroe coach Don Shows did not believe Davis' stories at the time. That also went to Davis' credibility.
When Miles reacted to Davis' comments, that was also added to the story.
It should also be known that Davis once told a reporter in Alabama that he was LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson's cousin. Jackson said that is not true.
So, do not always believe what people are quoted as saying in the newspaper. People lie in their quotes more than writers misquote them.
But in the end, Davis' comments are no more dishonest than what LSU released after Ricky Jean-Francois' accurate and taken-in-context quotes about what might happen to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow last month. LSU said Jean-Francois' comments were "misinterpreted," which was a lie. Remember, this is the same school that said Pokey Chatman was resigning to "pursue other opportunities," when in truth she was fired for pursuing her players.
But there may actually be some truth to that one devilishly hot quote by Davis. He said Miles said, "The devil (Saban) has come back to college football and is trying to create a big buzz."
This was a liar's memory of a recruiting conversation. He probably made it up. It would be hard to believe that Miles, who really is one of the nicest people you're going to meet who has this coaching profession in the proper perspective, would actually compare Saban to Satan in a conversation with Davis. But remember Miles does have a very good sense of humor and has taken a few shots at Saban on the fan speaking tour circuit. Nice guy Miles also said "f-ing Alabama" in front of thousands, including his kids, at the 2007 recruiting bash. And who knows what goes on in recruiting conversations? That's a different animal completely. Surely, not always the truth. I don't know who to believe here.
But one thing is true. In the weeks after Saban was hired at Alabama, which is when all this happened, there was serious paranoia on the LSU staff about how Saban's tremendous recruiting prowess would impact LSU's recruiting. When Saban visited LSU commitments Sidell Corley and Phelon Jones in Mobile, Ala., you would have thought he tried to kidnap them. Miles quickly dispatched two assistants to those kids' homes the next day. He didn't need to do that, according to the players' parents. They were coming to LSU anyway. It was paranoia.
The forgotten part of this Davis story is this question. Why didn't LSU just let Davis visit Alabama? Other prospects who are committed to LSU in recent years have visited other schools with no uproar. LSU also routinely hosts prospects who are committed to other schools and routinely continues to recruit and sometimes sign players who are committed to other schools. Just two weeks ago at the Georgia game, LSU hosted Pensacola running back Trent Richardson of Escambia High. He is an Alabama commitment.
Why the uproar over Davis? Saban paranoia, that's why. Paranoia makes people say funny things.
And some members of LSU's coaching staff are still paranoid about Saban. And why? His recruiting impact on Louisiana has been virtually nill. The only players he's gotten that LSU wanted is Luther, and he may never be a starter or very good or last.
Meanwhile, Miles struggles to even mention the guy's name. Get over Saban already!