(Editorial Note: Les Miles didn't actually talk to a chicken sandwich [that we have video proof of], but I imagine this is about what it would sound like).
It's Monday morning, December 31st, and most of us are not working. We are sleeping, we are cooking, we are eating, we are sitting around catching up on television. But not Les Miles. He is busy. He is working. At 7:30 EST he has a game to coach. Les understands: Preparation is key. He plans everything. He's not Nick Saban, eating the same sandwich everyday so he has one less decision, but he's still meticulous. He likes his Tiger Rugs vacuumed at exactly 6:04 a.m. He hits the tready for 30 minutes. He then enjoys his breakfast of Cotton Candy and Bacon Bits. These are the keys to a good day: Vacuuming, Treadmilling, Cotton Candying.
But today is different. He's not home. He woke up (this term is used loosely, because he sleeps with his eyes open, so what really is sleep?) at 4:07 a.m., on a hotel pillow and folded back the stiff, almost crunchy hotel comforter. He paced the room for a bit, because when there is no treadmill, he paces. Kathy lies in the bed, still sleeping. She's grown used to Les' antics. It's not uncommon for him to pull out a whistle and begin calling penalties on the cars stuck in traffic from hotel windows. She sleeps with ear plugs every night.
He's paced the room 74 times now. Tiny laps into the bathroom back out, down one side of the bed and back, down the other side of the bed and back and then back into the bathroom. He times himself. 19 seconds. 23 seconds. 16 seconds. NEW RECORD. It's important to compete, even with yourself. It's the number two Les Miles tenet. Number one is Close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades and end of the half/game timeouts.
He does 12.5 pushups. 13 is too many. He needs his arms for tonight. They cannot be tired. He must gesture to the officials wildly. He must make a good impression on Dabo with a firm handshake. He must fist pump after a furious pre-game speech in which he depicts ripping off the heads of their opponents, spitting down their throats and then mounting their taut faces on the fence posts around the arena, so all comers shall be warned. It's strangely motivating. But he needs those arms. 13 pushups is too many.
He showers, but he does not use soap. Les Miles does not believe in soap. His pores sweat cleanliness. Thus, he is constantly bathing. He showers to keep up the image. Even Kathy does not know. She's still sleeping, but just in case.
He dresses. White LSU emblazoned polo, khaki pants, a purple LSU wind jacket. His casual look. He needs to eat. He left his cotton candy and bacon bits at home. This is troubling. Somewhat alarming. His routine is shaken enough, why this too? No matter. He must progress. It's the opposite of congress, as he always jokes to himself.
It's game day, he forgot his cotton candy and bacon bits and it's breakfast time. There is only one solution. That is a food sacrifice to the Bowl Gods. Les must eat mor' chikin.
Les pulls into the nearest Chick-Fil-A. He orders three chicken biscuits. He does it individually. It doesn't matter that it's three of the same item. He orders them each separately. With each item he finishes, "It's my pleasure." This is funny to him. Those Chick-Fil-A workers can't outdo his gratuity. He gets a coffee and a order of hash browns, too. He insists on a side of peaches. "Sir we don't have peaches." He asks for a peach milkshake. "Sir, we don't have that either." Fortunately, he brought a package of Haribo Peaches. Desperate times.
The worker hands him his coffee and he stands off to the side, patiently awaiting his name to be called.
"Dabo!" a young man bellows, smile gleaming, always Chick-Fil-A friendly. Les' jokes never end and only make sense to him.
Les steps up and takes his tray. Three chicken sandwiches and an order of hash browns. Substitute breakfast of champions, because it's hard to find cotton candy at 6 a.m. in Atlanta. He sits down and pulls out a small notepad and jots down a note: "Business idea: twinnie fore our cotton candy shawp." He writes not for proper English. He writes as his brain thinks the words.
He unwraps one sandwich and sets it atop the paper. He flips a hash brown into his mouth. This is not a direct exchange. He views eating hash browns much like he does kicking field goals. It's as important to breakfast as it is to winning the game, but sometimes you need to be adventurous. Sometimes you need to go all-in, like he did against Alabama. His favorite trick is flipping one high into the air, doing a quick spin, craning his neck backward and catching the hash brown in his mouth. Sometimes he overestimates and the hash brown falls to the back of his throat. He chokes, only momentarily. If football should be fun, so should eating.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small sandwich baggie. Inside is his travelling grass. Tonight he plays the Georgia Dome and turf just doesn't taste the same. What's not known is that he loves to sprinkle a little grass on each of his pregame meals... even his cotton candy. Some people like salt and pepper. Some put ketchup on everything. Les Miles prefers grass. The camera catching him nibbling on the sideline is small exposure to the habit he tries to pretend is a fun game. But eating grass is serious business for Les. It's part of his Radiohelioemilio-diet. Self-titled.
He sprinkles a few blades of grass on the first sandwich. He smashes the top part of the buttery biscuit into it, a fusion of butter and grass and chicken breading that is disturbing to most (including all onlooking customers), but enough to make Les Miles salivate. He understands the repercussions of eating grass in public. But he also understands this will be little more than message board fodder that garners replies like "Lulz." "Your stupid." And, "Les is the best!" Les loves message boards. Many in the South spend their daily time in the Word. Les reads message boards.
He doesn't say grace. Not now. He peers down at the sandwich, and it's confusing... He keeps thinking of Clemson. This is like a first date with the awkward napkin folding and re-folding, the endless drinking of water and polite chuckles. But "Clempson," that's a conversation starter.
"You know chicken biscuit, I've been thinking."
The chicken biscuit sits still, alert, inanimate. Or perhaps it's just being a chicken biscuit, because chicken biscuits don't talk.
"Do you know anyone named Dabo? A lot of people make fun of me because I'm a man named Leslie. Nevermind Leslie Nielsen. Have you seen Airplane? You picked the wrong day to quit drinking, chicken sandwich."
In Les' head, the chicken sandwich laughs.
"So Dabo? What kind of name is that? I know my daughter's nickname is Smacker. But that's a nickname. I'd never name my kid Smacker. Who could name their kid Dabo?"
Les is aloof to the fact that Dabo is also a nickname.
"Anyhow chicken biscuit, big game tonight. Peach Bowl. Whoever thought Peaches and football should go together?"
Les expresses a deep admiration for history, insisting to call the bowls by their historical names. Yet, the historical and logical explanations for their origins are completely lost on him. He doesn't have time for that. He doesn't need to know why things are, just that they are. That is how he thinks. That is how he coaches. That is how he lives.
"Speaking of peaches," Les reaches into his pocket and pulls out the Haribo candy, making a vertical tear in the upper-right corner to release the gummi-goodness. He pulls out three peaches, lifts the top biscuit again and evenly distributes them across the chicken. "Peach infused chicken in a grass emulsion." Fine dining is funny to Les, too.
"So chicken biscuit, what do you think about the game tonight? I hope those funny cows parachute in in the middle of the game. That would be hysterical. Chicken biscuit, how do they make you from cow? That's something I've never understood."
It's either lost on Les or he's completely ambivalent to the fact that a chicken biscuit cannot talk. No matter, Les never saw the value in two-way conversation exchange.
"Chicken biscuit, I ordered you and two friends. This is my personal invite to enjoy the game tonight from the sideline."
Les nods with approval, the edges of the biscuit wrapping around chicken seem expose what looks to him a smile.
"One caveat." Les loves the word caveat. He doesn't know what it means. But he uses it regularly. In this case, correctly.
"You'll be in my stomach."
Les lets out a hearty chuckle and at this point could be confused for a mentally ill homeless man, if not for his finely pressed Dockers and soap-producing pores. He smells like Dove... and chicken... and peach candy... and grass. Yes, grass.
Today is a good day, for Les Miles. The Bowl Gods are pleased with his sacrifice. He expects mercy on the field. With no caveats.