Friday, January 7, 2011

LSU Postgame Press Conference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Coach Miles and players. Coach, we'd like to let you make an opening comment.
COACH MILES: First of all, I want you to know we truly respect those Texas A&M Aggies. They're a great team.
We knew we were going to have to play well when we lined up against them. We understand the tremendous support and loyal following that they have. We're honored to compete against them today.
Our football team is a very close-knit group of men.
They have all the characteristics of a very, very capable team.
In fact, somebody steps up to make a play when it's needed. It can be offense, defense or special teams.
I think tonight was just really a number of great performances to cap a year that they achieved greatly. A team that's beat /TEP the teams they've beaten and played as well as they have, this was a fitting game.
I have to thank the Cotton Bowl Committee and certainly the opportunity to play in such an historic game.
This game is made more important to us by the luncheon we had where to pick the great players and the great teams and the great circumstance of a Cotton Bowl. We're very honored to play in it. I think it became more important to us even after that luncheon.
I don't think there's any question that this will eventually be a BCS Bowl game. It has all the makings and all the strength and environment that you need.
But I'm really proud of our players. Our players are quality men. I got to tell you something. I love going to work with them. What we do as coaches, we ask them to do hard things. It's not easy. It's get up early, it's work late, it's study, it's pound the weights. You're sore. Just came off a game. Tough. It's time to do what we do. We prepare.
It's a rugged, ambitious culture.
So as a coach you get to the back end of a season, you've seen what they've accomplished, you're very much in their debt. I surely enjoyed this year. It's been a lot of fun. And these men have been just a joy to be around.
Ask some questions of my players, please.

Texas A&M Postgame Press Conference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Coach, your comments about this evening's game, please.
COACH SHERMAN: Well, I thought we prepared extremely well for the football game, but obviously today, without question, LSU was the better team. I take my hat off to them.
They really played well and gave us all we could handle.
There came a point there that it was close. We were able to jump out early, but weren't able to hold onto it. They run the ball pretty effectively for us. Our gap fits in the run game weren't what they needed to be.
Turned the ball over three times which doesn't help against a team like that. But, again, they were definitely the better team. Take my hat off to Les Miles and his staff. They did a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. First question.

LSU: Slow start, big finish

The LSU Tigers are your 2011 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Champions.

Final score: LSU 41, Texas A&M 24.

It seems like a long time ago, but Texas A&M jumped out to a 10-0 lead in this game. LSU had the final say, obviously.

Another Jasper field goal, a 41-24 lead

LSU's Josh Jasper booted a 26-yard field goal. The Tigers now lead A&M 41-24 with 3:04 left.

Third INT just about seals it

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu made an amazing catch for A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill's third interception of the game.

The Tigers take over at the A&M 28 yard line with 5:34 left. The Aggies are quickly running out of time and opportunities.

Field goal gives LSU a little more room

LSU's Josh Jasper just tied an AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic record with a 50-yard field goal.

The kick with 6:12 left stretches LSU's lead to 38-24. It's still a two-score lead, but now both scores must be touchdowns by A&M.

Second-largest crowd in AT&T Cotton Bowl history

The announced crowd of 83,514 is the second-largest in AT&T Cotton Bowl history.

The biggest crowd was the 88,175 who saw the 2009 Classic, the last one played in the old Cotton Bowl stadium.

Aggies pull a little closer

Texas A&M's Kenric McNeal hauled in a pass on third-and-goal from the LSU four to pull the Aggies within 35-24 of LSU's lead.

That makes it a two-score game with 10:04 left.

Pictures being posted throughout game at the AT&T Cotton Bowl's Facebook Page

If you'd like to check out some up-to-the minute photos of the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, click on the the Classic's Facebook Page.

Lots of pictures from the sidelines and field level. Just go to the album marked "Wall Photos" and you'll see pics posted almost as soon as they're taken. There are also photos of last year's Classic between Ole Miss and Oklahoma State at the start of the album.

And to see pictures of all the AT&T Cotton Bowl festivities throughout the week, be sure to browse our Photo Gallery.

Third quarter ends with LSU leading A&M, 35-17

The scoring has slowed down. It's come to a complete halt for A&M in this half.

LSU's Josh Jasper just missed a 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the third quarter. But the Tigers still hold a commanding, 35-17 lead. Just 15 minutes of clock time left in the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Tolliver's 3 TDs ties Cotton Bowl record

LSU receiver Terrence Tolliver's three touchdown receptions tie the AT&T Cotton Bowl record set by USC's Keyshawn Johnson in the 1995 Classic against Texas Tech.

That didn't take long: LSU scores again

The second half has started just like the first half ended -at a fast pace.

LSU's Terrence Tolliver caught his third TD pass of the game, a 41-yarder, to give the Tigers a 35-17 lead. The drive covered 67 yards in five plays and took 2:47. There's 12:06 left in the third quarter. Buckle in.

Halftime - time to catch your breath

It's LSU 28, Texas A&M 17 at halftime of the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Whew!

Texas A&M has 259 yards of offense. LSU has 253 yards. We've had three interceptions and many other big plays, starting with a 69-yard kickoff return to open the game.

Better rest up while you can before the second half of the track meet gets under way.

INT sets up another LSU TD

Eric Reid's interception return to the Texas A&M two yard line set up LSU to take a 28-17 lead with 1:27 left in the half.'

On third and goal from the three, Terrence Tolliver caught a fade pass in the left corner for his second TD of the game.

There have been 45 points scored so far, and there's still time for more before halftime.

Ridley's got some moves - and a touchdown

LSU running back Stevan Ridley made a ridiculous move in traffic at the line of scrimmage to evade a tackle, then scooted 17 yards for a touchdown.

It's 21-17, LSU with 4:43 left in the half. Gonna be a long night!

It's officially a barn-burner

Texas A&M has reclaimed the lead in what's been a back-and-forth affair filled with big plays.

This time it was Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray who rolled to his right, then pulled up and tossed a pass 14 yards to Uzoma Nwatchukwu, who was wide open in the end zone.

The Aggies drove 78 yards in seven plays that time to claim a 17-14 lead with 7:44 left in the half. You get the feeling there are plenty more big plays ahead.

Jefferson's TD run makes it moot, gives LSU lead

It sure looked like LSU's Stevan Ridley scored on a nine-yard carry when he landed on his back on the goal line. LSU coach Les Miles thought so, too, and challenged the ruling that Ridley was down at the one.

The replay booth upheld the ruling on the field.

No matter. On the next play, QB Jordan Jefferson ran a bootleg play to his right and beat the defense to the pylon. It's now 14-10, LSU, with 10:13 left in the first half.

Dicky Maegle in the house

Former Rice great Dicky Maegle was just interviewed on the sideline by Fox television. Maegle is part of one of the most famous plays in college football history and it happened in the 1954 Cotton Bowl.

Maegle had broken a run down the right sideline and was sure to score when Alabama's Tommy Lewis jumped off the benched and tackled him. The old footage of the famed "bench tackle" still gets a chuckle when it's shown at Cotton Bowl functions.

Lightning strikes for LSU: 10-7

Just like that, LSU changed the momentum of the game on one play. QB Jordan Jefferson hit Terrence Tolliver on a deep post pattern for a 42-yard touchdown.

It's now A&M 10, LSU 7 with 1:48 left in the first quarter.

76-yard drive ends in A&M field goal

Most drives that start at your own 2-yard line aren't productive, but Texas A&M marched 76 yards in nine plays to get points. Randy Bullock's 39-yard field goal made it 10-0 Aggies with 5:03 left to play in the first quarter.

Key play: A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill's 32-yard scramble earned some much-needed breathing room out to the 44.

INT ends LSU's first drive

LSU's opening drive, sustained by a roughing the kicker penalty, reached the Texas A&M 24 yard line. Then A&M's Coryell Judie came up with his second big play of the game by picking off Jordan Jefferson's pass.

Judie's momentum carried him back toward the end zone, where his knee nearly touched down before he decided to mount a return. He was stopped at the 2 yard line where the Aggies will start again.

A&M scores first

Texas A&M has made it look easy in the early stages of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Aggies opened with a 69-yard kickoff return by Coryell Judie to the LSU 31. The quickly moved to the six and Ryan Tannehill tossed a TD pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu at the goal line.

It's 7-0 Aggies with 13:01 to play in the first quarter.

LSU wins the coin toss

LSU won the coin toss and deferred its option until the second half. Texas A&M will receive the opening kickoff.

Football legend Jim Brown, who played in the 1957 Cotton Bowl for Syracuse, flipped the coin as part of the celebration of the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

The National Anthem

Country music group Little Big Town performed the national anthem, which featured pyrotechnics and a giant stars and stripes in the shape of the United States (lower 48, of course).

The LSU Tiger Band

The Kilgore Rangerettes

It wouldn't be the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic without the world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes.

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

Starting lineup changes

For LSU:

Starting at right guard will be 60 Will Blackwell, and at free safety 6 Craig Loston

For Texas A&M:
83 Tony Jerod-Eddie is expected to start at defensive end

The view from the pressbox

An hour until kickoff

Cowboys Stadium is already starting to fill in an hour until kickoff. Lots of people have been here since before noon, tailgating in the parking lots.

Plenty of people are still outside enjoying the tailgating scene. That's one way to beat the traffic. And there was traffic on the way in, but nothing too bad for a primetime kickoff in Dallas-Fort Worth.

AT&T Cotton Bowl telecast will look a lot like Super Bowl XLV

The AT&T Cotton Bowl's primetime telecast on FOX tonight will have Super Bowl-like production values. That's because FOX is also broadcasting Super Bowl XLV in a month from the same site, Cowboys Stadium.

The AT&T Cotton Bowl broadcast will have a lot of the same technological bells and whistles as the Super Bowl telecast. Even the pregame show will be hosted on the same sideline set as the Super Bowl.

Kenny Albert and Daryl "Moose" Johnston will handle the play-by-play and color, respectively, with sideline reports from Charles Davis and John Lynch. Chris Rose will host the pregame show, starting at 7 p.m. Central, and broadcasting legend Pat Summerall will contribute his insights.

The telecast will have such a Super Bowl feel, viewers at home might want to do their own dress rehearsal and host a Super Bowl-like viewing party. It's never to early to try out that new guacamole dip recipe.

Tip: Check the traffic reports before heading to the game

North Texas' infamous traffic snarls caused LSU coach Les Miles to be late to his Wednesday press conference, and they might cause a delay for some fans heading to tonight's game.

A fuel tanker overturned on I-30, the main artery to Arlington, at 1:30 a.m. Friday, causing traffic to be closed in both directions just west of downtown Dallas.

The highway's westbound lanes, heading towards Arlington, were open and clear by mid-morning, but eastbound traffic was still gridlocked. Authorities are hoping to open the eastbound lanes by this afternoon.

Still, it's always a good idea to make a quick check of the traffic reports before getting in the car for tonight's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Although we have our share of traffic jams in North Texas, we also have lots of highways that can be used as alternate routes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Big fun at the AT&T Big Play Luncheon

The AT&T Big Play Luncheon was once again a festive gathering on the eve of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Celebrities, football fans and the entire squads of both teams attended the luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Hotel on Thursday. Special guests this year were about 20 members of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, including Jim Brown who played in the 1957 Classic. Brown, one of the greatest players in football history, will participate in the coin toss before Fridays' 75th Classic.

With Brad Sham emceeing, luncheon-goers were entertained with speeches by both coaches, including LSU's Les Miles who grew up near Cleveland and idolized Brown. Daryl "Moose" Johnston, who will be the color analyst on the FOX broadcast of the game, was also one of the featured speakers.

Winners of the Cotton Bowl's student art contest were honored, as well as scholar-athlete award winners from both teams: Texas A&M's Michael Hodges and LSU's Richard Dugas.

The luncheon's famed door prizes come with a catch - literally. Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill and LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw autographed footballs to the lucky winners of the drawing. If they didn't catch the pass, well, good thing there's no replay review!

Dallas Cowboys VIPs stop by LSU's final practice

The LSU Tigers had some special visitors in their final walk-through practice Thursday at Cowboys Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett came by the Tigers' practice. With them were Cowboys Executive VPs Stephen Jones, a Cotton Bowl board member, and Jerry Jones, Jr.

The group was at the stadium earlier for the press conference to announce Garrett, formerly the interim coach, would have the job on a permanent basis.Part of the reason for the visit was to see LSU coach Les Miles, a former Cowboys assistant coach.

Jerry Jones, a former player at fellow SEC school Arkansas, took time to address the team.

"His message was a very strong one," Miles said. "It was a great moment. Our team lit up to it."

A view from the AT&T Big Play Luncheon

Texas A&M players listen to master of ceremonies Brad Sham during Thursday's annual AT&T Big Play Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. The luncheon features both teams and is traditionally held the day before the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

Former A&M great Ty Warren attends Aggies' final walk-through

The Texas A&M football team had another practice visit from an NFL player on Thursday.

Former A&M great Ty Warren, now with the New England Patriots, stopped by Cowboys Stadium for the Aggies' final walk-through practice for Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Warren has spent the season on injured reserve after suffering a hip injury during training camp. Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee, another former A&M standout, stopped by practice.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hospital visits hit home for LSU and Texas A&M players

Every year, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic teams visit area children's hospitals to cheer up youngsters going through difficult times.  And every year, the players and coaches come back saying they were more inspired by the visits than the kids themselves.

"Our visit to the hospital yesterday was an experience that many of our players will remember for the rest of their lives," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "To be able to connect with some kids who are battling just to live their lives, and parents as well...We just had a phenomenal visit."

For more details, check out stories about LSU's visit to Scottish Rite Hospital and Texas A&M's visit to Children's Medical Center on the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic web site.

Texas A&M's Sherman calls AT&T Cotton Bowl a "Super Bowl environment"

Cowboys Stadium, site of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, will also host Super Bowl XLV next month. Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman said playing in the 2011 Cotton Bowl will be the next best thing to the Super Bowl.

"This is really a Super Bowl environment," Sherman said Wednesday. "Having had a chance to coach in one at one time, it's very similar. The celebrity status that our players feel, the activities they attend, it's almost akin to a Super Bowl week. This is our Super Bowl."

Miles' late arrival leads to Sherman one-liner

LSU head coach Les Miles was nearly 45 minutes late to the head coaches' press conference because of he got caught up in a traffic jam.

Traditionally, the two head coaches sit on the dais with the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic trophy between them. At the end of the press conference, they pose for photographs together with the trophy.

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman had to leave for practice before Miles arrived, so he posed with the trophy alone.

"Since Les isn't here," Sherman quipped, "can I take it with me?"

LSU's Miles answers Michigan questions

LSU coach Les Miles could not avoid questions about the job opening at Michigan at the AT&T Cotton Bowl's head coaches press conference Wednesday.

"I have received no contact from Michigan," Miles said. "Michigan will be fine. There will always be a Michigan. Speculation is not factual. My focus is complete. We're preparing to play a great A&M team and that's my want and desire."

Miles has strong ties to Michigan as a former player and assistant coach for the Wolverines. His name has come up in the past when the Michigan position was open.

Press conference moderator Peter Irwin tried to discourage questions about Michigan, but they were unavoidable since Miles will likely be unavailable to the media until after Friday's Cotton Bowl game.

"I have no real view of anything but what I'm doing right here," Miles said. "I don't think anybody has any reason to be concerned in any way. Let's just go to practice and enjoy this week and go on."

Photo Gallery has the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic covered

If you want to get the picture of what it's like this week at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, be sure to check out the photo gallery on the bowl's official web site.

Of particular note, check out the pic of Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman wearing a ten-gallon hat at last night's Beef Bowl!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Clark Kent? Nope, just Texas A&M's Von Miller

Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller has probably been called Superman before, but the Butkus Award winner donned more of a Clark Kent look during Tuesday's interview sessions at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic media headquarters. Photo by James D. Smith/CBAA

Bowling, beef and basketball keeping the AT&T Cotton Bowl teams entertained

   Tuesday night, players from both LSU and Texas A&M were treated to a Dallas Mavericks game at the American Airlines Center.
   Before the game, Texas A&M took its turn in the Beef Bowl, the longstanding Cotton Bowl dining tradition at Lawry's The Prime Rib.
   The consensus favorite among the Aggies to eat the most prime rib was offensive lineman Rhontae Scales, who is listed at a svelte 6-6, 317 pounds.
   "I'd have to say Rhontae Scales," said center Matt Allen. "He can eat. That's a big boy. [When he comes over] lock the fridge and the pantry."
   On Sunday night, the teams were given full-run of Mane Event, an entertainment and arcade complex. Bowling was the game of choice during Texas A&M's visit with kicker Ross Gilliam and quarterbacks Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill among the top keglers.
   "Tannehill can pretty much do anything," said cornerback Terrence Frederick, who himself bowled a personal best of 193. "Golf, ski. He's pretty good at anything."
   Reports from the event, however, said Gilliam took top honors on the lanes with a 207.

LSU's Miles may get Michigan questions at Wednesday press conference

   LSU coach Les Miles may have to field questions about something other than Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic when he and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman participate in a final pre-game press conference Wednesday.
   Detroit news outlets are reporting that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has been fired, although the school says no decision has been made.
   Miles is a former Michigan assistant coach and player. His strong Michigan ties have caused his name to come up in the past when the Wolverines' job was available. However, Miles reportedly would have to play a $1.25 million buyout to LSU if he were to leave for Ann Arbor.
   All in all, it could make for an interesting press conference Wednesday morning.

LSU players down 415 pounds of prime rib at the Beef Bowl

Monday night was LSU’s turn to participate in the Beef Bowl, the annual chowfest hosted by area restaurant Lawry’s The Prime Rib.

LSU players reportedlay are 415 pounds of beef, but could have done more damage. Texas A&M will see how much prime rib it can consume Tuesday during its turn in the Beef Bowl, but in recent years the competitive aspect has been toned down.

"I guess they figured it was too close to the game to try to have everybody try to out-eat each other," LSU offensive lineman Joseph Barksdale said. "We had just gotten out of practice. After I ate my first plate, I actually almost fell asleep. I was tired, man."

Barksdale had been tabbed as one of the top eaters on the LSU team, but most of the money would have been on defensive tackle Drake Nevis.

"Man, that guy can eat," fellow defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston said. "He’s a greedy young man.

"I’ve seen Drake eat a whole box of pizza, then one hour later want to go get him a one-pound hamburger."

And in case any LSU players did overindulge?

"We'll get it off of them [in practice]," defensive coordinator John Chavis said.

LSU defensive coordinator flattered by Texas mentions, but staying put

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis' name has been mentioned in regards to the University of Texas' search to fill the same position. Being in Texas this week, it's been a constant topic for Chavis.

"I’m flattered if I am mentioned at a program like Texas," Chavis said. "Texas is a great program. Mack Brown is a great man. I consider Mack a friend. I’m flattered if I am mentioned there, I’m not saying that I have or will be. But I’m happy and I expect to be back at LSU next year."

Texas is looking to replace Will Muschamp, who left to become the head coach at Florida.

LSU's Stevan Ridley is all smiles

LSU running back Stevan Ridley was happy to take part in Tuesday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic press conference.Ridley had his eligibility for the game reinstated the day before by the NCAA after looking into an alleged academic violation. Photo by James D. Smith/CBAA

Texas A&M's Von Miller: A combination of "Finesse and violence"

LSU offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale will have the pleasure of trying to block Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, the Butkus Award winner.

Barksdale was asked what makes Miller a special player.

"His mix of finesse and violence," Barksdale said. "Most of the time you find one or the other. When you can use both, that's when you're really effective."

Barksdale has spent time studying Miller's mixed bag of moves to get to the passer.

"He's definitely someone you have to get ready for," Barksdale said. "He has a lot of moves. Any time you're a talented player, you've got more than just a rip or a spin move."

LSU's Jordan Jefferson talks to the media

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson talks to a member of the media during Tuesday's press conferences for the 2011 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Photo by James D. Smith/CBAA

LSU Tigers rooting for Auburn in national championship game

No matter what happens in Monday's BCS National Championship Game, the LSU Tigers will face the defending national champions during the 2011 season.

LSU opens the season against Oregon in a return trip to Cowboys Stadium. The Tigers will also play Auburn as part of their SEC schedule.

Although it would be nice to open the season against the national champions, LSU players were backing their fellow SEC team in Monday's game.

"You always have to stick with the SEC," LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson said. "Auburn's a great team. They have a great style of play. You just have to go for the SEC team. That's basically family."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee attends Texas A&M practice

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee attended his alma mater's practice Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium.

The former Texas A&M standout had said last week, prior to his first NFL start against the Philadelphia Eagles, that he wanted to attend a practice. McGee said he wanted to Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, who coached him his senior year in College Station.

Monday, January 3, 2011

LSU's Ridley ruled eligible for AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

From the LSU Sports Information Department:

  BATON ROUGE – The NCAA has determined that Stevan Ridley did not violate its bylaws and he is eligible to play in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl appearance on Friday.
  "This is great news. We put our faith in the system and the NCAA made the right decision,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “We appreciate the efforts put forth by the NCAA and the LSU administration. We
are grateful that the NCAA made this a priority at this time of year. If you believe in the mission of the NCAA, this decision is good for college athletics. I told the team about the news at the end of practice and they’re a happy group.”
  Ridley was initially declared ineligible, however, after additional information was provided to the NCAA, it was determined no violation of NCAA rules occurred in this instance.
  “We thank the NCAA for looking at this case over the holidays and for resolving this issue on such short notice,” said Joe Alleva, LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. “This ruling is in the best interests of the student-athlete and that’s what the NCAA is all about.”
  Ridley played in all 12 games during LSU’s 2010 regular season and leads the team in rushing with 1,042 yards on 225 carries while rushing for 14 touchdowns, averaging 86.8 yards per game. He is ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards per game.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hospital visits highlight week of activity

The AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic is more than just a football game, it's an event that touches all parts of the North Texas community.
 As part of that spirit, the players of both LSU and Texas A&M will get an opportunity to reach out to some very special people on Tuesday.

In the morning, LSU players will visit Scottish Rite Hospital. That afternoon, Texas A&M players will visit Children's Medical Center.

The hospital visits are an annual tradition with the AT&T Cotton Bowl. If they are anything like years' past, the players will get as much out of the visits as the young patients who look up to them.

Lawry's Beef Bowl ahead for hungry Tigers

LSU coach Les Miles is surrounded by his players as they take pictures during Saturday's Welcome Party at Cowboys Stadium. The Tigers are scheduled to take their turn in the Lawry's Beef Bowl, a longstanding AT&T Cotton Bowl tradition, on Monday night at Lawry's The Prime Rib. Texas A&M players will partake in the Beef Bowl on Tuesday. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

Miles meets the media

LSU coach Les Miles speaks at a press conference during AT&T Cotton Bowl Media Day on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

A homecoming of sorts for LSU coach Les Miles

LSU coach Les Miles is no stranger to Texas, having coached at Oklahoma State prior to taking over the Tigers' program. But he's also familiar with the Dallas area as a former tight ends coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

"I enjoy coming back to Dallas because I was very fortunate to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization for three years," Miles said during Sunday's AT&T Cotton Bowl Media Day press conference.

Miles coached in Dallas from 1998-2000, the first two seasons under Chan Gailey and the third under Dave Campo.

First workout

Former Dallas Cowboy Dat Nguyen, now the Texas A&M inside linebackers coach, works with Caleb Russell (47) and Malcolm Johnson (24) during the Aggies' first workout at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

Practices under way for AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

Both Texas A&M and LSU will practice in the comfortable confines of Cowboys Stadium this week as they prepare for Friday's kickoff.

Texas A&M's practices are open to the media for the first 15 minutes. LSU's practices are completely closed to the media. Both teams will make coaches and players available for interviews after practice, in addition to their daily press conferences at the AT&T Cotton Bowl media headquarters.

Ole Miss and Oklahoma State found an advantage in practicing at Cowboys Stadium in the days leading up to the game: By kickoff, the "awe factor" of the Cowboys' giant video screen has worn off.

Texas A&M has a slight advantage in that area because the Aggies have played a game in Cowboys Stadium each of the last two seasons. However, the Aggies lost both times to Arkansas.

"Hopefully we're going to break that losing streak we've got here," Texas A&M linebacker Michael Hodges said. "Hopefully they're a little more star-struck than we are and it [the video boards] will be a little bit of a distraction for them."

Getting to Big D

Texas A&M and LSU arrived in the Dallas area in different styles to begin preparation for the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Texas A&M players reported to their team headquarters at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine via their personal vehicles.

LSU's team made a short flight from Baton Rouge and will be headquartered at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

Finishing touches

Artist Dan Dunn puts the finishing touches on a portrait of Texas A&M mascot Reveille during Saturday night's Welcome Party at Cowboys Stadium. At left is a portrait of Mike the Tiger, LSU's live mascot. Photo by Ian Halperin/CBAA

Cotton Bowl teams get first-class welcome

Traditionally, New Year's Day is the culmination of a week of celebrations for the AT&T Cotton Bowl. This year, Jan. 1 was the day the parties got started with the Cowboys Stadium Welcome.

Both the LSU and Texas A&M teams were welcomed to town with food and fun in the East Plaza of Cowboys Stadium. While the teams ate fajitas, artist Dan Dunn and Paintjam painted Cotton Bowl-related portraits at rapid speed on huge, spinning canvases.

Then came brief welcome speeches from Classic chairman Tommy Bain and Dallas Cowboys Executive VP Stephen Jones. The Cowboys were the host for the party, which was held in the East End Zone Plaza overlooking the stadium.

After dinner, the group moved to the 50 yard line to watch videos of the teams on the stadium's 60-yard long, 72-foot tall video screen.

A group of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders stood by the Cotton Bowl and Lombardi Trophies, while a squadron of Kilgore Rangerettes ushered the crowd into and around the building.

"We did our thing last year at Shreveport [Independence Bowl], but this is outstanding," Texas A&M linebacker Michael Hodges said. "Everything's been so plush and first-class so far."

The Aggies reported for the game week between noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Gaylord Texan resort.

"Everything's been so great, and we haven't even been here 24 hours yet," Hodges said. "Our facility over there [at the Gaylord Texan], you can't even describe it. It's unbelievable."