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All the while, Miles reflected on his commitments to current players and incoming recruits, as well as assistant coaches and officials in the LSU athletic department. He described struggling to sleep through the night and lying awake around 4 a.m., talking again with Kathy.

While he was leaning toward remaining at LSU, Miles said he had to consider the possibility that he could be persuaded to go to a place he’s loved since he played under the late Bo Schembechler, who later gave Miles his first assistant coaching job.

“I could not have met with Michigan without the potential of a different outcome,” Miles said. “I always allowed for that, but it kept comfortably returning to the people and the commitment. I enjoy this community.”

Miles also had the memory of LSU’s 41-24 Cotton Bowl triumph over Texas A&M fresh in his mind _ the postgame celebration with his players and the howls of approval from rabid Tigers fans who’d traveled to Arlington, Texas.

As the team bus left Cowboys Stadium, Miles sat near redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Montgomery and freshman defensive back Tryann Mathieu. Mathieu had made big plays all season and had an interception against the Aggies. Montgomery was having early success as a pass rusher when his season was cut short by a knee injury. Miles considered their promising futures at LSU and all that went into bringing them to Baton Rouge.

“I told them I was going to be here when I recruited them, and for me not to respect those people that I committed to is just very difficult,” Miles said.

Then Miles, the so-called “Mad Hatter,” whose litany of quirky quotes inspired the creation of the website thequotablelesmiles.com, summed up his outlook in a way befitting his reputation.

“My strength and my weakness is loyalty,” Miles began, “and I’ll always see it as a strength.”