When asked whether he would like for his team to play USC in the National Championship game two months before the season starts, the proper response would be:
a. Say it's an honor that people are talking up the team so much, but it's a long way from January and there is a lot of football to be played;
b. Say that we can't control our destiny for the national championship, so our goal is to win the SEC, but we would of course love the opportunity to play a team like USC if that chance arises; or
c. Call out USC on having a weak schedule and conference, insulting certain Pac-10 teams by name in the process?
If you said "c", you really like Coach Miles, and you are either a motivational visionary or you need to stop talking to reporters.
Coaches are like politicians. Their every public utterance needs to be measured against how it will affect their teams and their opposition. This particular public utterance has made it into the national media and frankly makes Miles look bitchy. For the next time we play a Pac-10 team, particularly Washington or Stanford, those teams will have substantial locker-room material to use for motivation.
Also, does he not recall that USC has played SEC teams three times recently: Auburn in 2003, and Arkansas in 2005 and 2006. It won all three by blowout, and twice those opponents ended up being pretty good (though the 2006 Arkansas team was clearly much weaker early in the season when USC played them than they were later in the season).
I really don't understand what Les is doing with these comments. Stewart Mandel believes he was just giving red meat to the LSU- and SEC-faithful, who have long believed that USC has been at a substantial illegitimate advantage on the national scene by not playing as many tough, physical games as we do.
Even if this was the case, however, I think Miles could have done it a lot more gracefully and tactfully. He could have said, "It would be an honor to play USC in the national championship game, but the SEC is the toughest conference in the country, and we have to play a lot of good strong teams before we even think about the post-season possibilities." It's an expression that the SEC is the strongest conference and that it is especially hard to win here, but it doesn't give anyone any locker room material.
I think he was just speaking candidly, without thinking, and the consequences will not be good. His comments make us a target in the media. It puts the bullseye squarely on us at a time when we have really way too much media attention anyway. Plus, at a time when most coaches want to deflate their teams a little bit when they are ranked really highly, Miles is essentially saying, "We're awesome." It's hard to see how this helps.