Whispers of Les Miles to Michigan growing louder
A rumor that LSU fans are familiar with is starting to swirl again: for the third time in seven years, “Michigan Man” Les Miles returning to his alma mater to coach the Wolverines is a possibility.
Everyone in the college football world is aware of the discord going on in Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon are both under fire, Hoke for his putrid coaching performance and mishandling of his quarterback’s concussion, and Brandon for standing behind Hoke. Students at Michigan held a rally for Brandon’s firing this week, and many expect Hoke to be canned before season’s end.
With the Michigan job likely opening sooner than later, Miles will probably once again be a candidate, at least according to the media. On Friday, ESPN’s Travis Haney laid out the case for why Miles would be the best choice for the Wolverines (ESPN Insider only). Among his reasons:
- At 61 years old, moving to Michigan would give Miles a chance to end his career at the same place he not only played his college ball, but also where he got his start as a graduate assistant in 1980 under legendary coach Bo Schembechler.
- Miles is known as being a little “kooky,” as Haney put it, which could be needed to take the Michigan job. He’s thrived in Baton Rouge, where he followed Nick Saban, so he’s more than capable of stepping in after high-profile coaches Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke have failed.
As LSU fans will recall, Miles was considered the favorite to succeed longtime Michigan coach Lloyd Carr back in 2007. In fact, ESPN reported that Miles had accepted the job on the day of the SEC Championship game. LSU quickly dismissed the report, and Miles even called a press conference to tell the world that he had no plans to leave the bayou. There was a report at the time that Miles had scheduled an interview with Michigan, only to cancel in the week after his team beat Tennessee for the conference championship.
That didn’t stop Miles, who inked an extension with LSU shortly after, from picking up the phone when Michigan came calling a few weeks later. Miles said that he was only offering his advice and assistance to Michigan’s president and athletic director as they conducted their search. Despite his repeated assurances of his commitment to LSU, he still showed that he cared about what his alma mater did.
Michigan reached out to Miles again after dismissing Rodriguez after the 2010 season, this time getting their meeting with the coach. However, Miles again turned them down, leading to Hoke’s hiring.
This could very well be Miles’ last chance to go to back to his college football roots. Michigan would obviously like to find a long-term solution for their coaching position, and won’t likely want to have to go through another coaching search in a year or two. So what could keep the Mad Hatter tied down to Baton Rouge?
As Haney notes, the Tigers are currently loaded with young talent, as many of the team’s best players are either freshmen or sophomores. Brandon Harris, a true freshman quarterback, is making his first career start this week, while the team is brimming with young contributors on both sides of the ball.
On top of that, Miles’ 2015 recruiting class is currently ranked no. 13 by both 247Sports.com and No. 15 by Rivals.com. With only 16 recruits signed, that ranking has plenty of time to rise. If this young core of players continues to develop as rapidly as they have been, LSU could be back in the national championship picture within the next two seasons. Could Miles walk away from that?