LSU coach Les Miles responded to comments made by Alabama coach Nick Saban at SEC Media Days about the NFL draft and players' bowl game performance.
On Wednesday, Saban said some members of his team might have been affected by draft evaluations given out before the Crimson Tide's College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. He was concerned with the impact potential draft status had on players' mentalities and team chemistry, but clarified that he wasn't making an excuse for the loss.
“We’re trying to get ready for a game and all the sudden a guy finds out he’s a first round pick,“ Saban said. “I think that it would be better not to submit that information to a player until he was finished competing in college. We've moved the draft (later in the year). We've not moved the date that a player has to declare (later).”
Asked about Saban's comments, Miles told reporters he has not seen draft concerns affect his players' performances in bowl games. He added that in 11 years as LSU coach, he has seen “maybe” one player tank a bowl game because of NFL draft hopes.
However, Miles agreed with Saban about wanting to move back the dates for both draft evaluations and when juniors have to officially declare for the draft.
“If you back it up, it's certainly an advantage,” Miles said.
Juniors currently have until Dec. 15 to request an NFL draft evaluation and have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft or not. The draft evaluations are given to them prior to Dec. 25, which is before the majority of bowl games have occurred.
- Molly Geary