Stop linking former LSU coach Les Miles to Ole Miss, or any other Power 5 opening
Almost immediately upon Hugh Freeze resigning unceremoniously at Ole Miss last week, speculation began as to who might be its next coach.
Understand that the Rebels have too much of a mess on their hands right now to come up with an actual list of candidates. Best-case scenario, interim coach Matt Luke keeps the ship afloat for 2017. Maybe a long-term fix is in place for 2018.
Nevertheless, that didn’t stop media outlets from throwing names out there since clicks are to be had in the aftermath of such a bombshell story — the usual suspects, nothing more. Lane Kiffin, obviously, although he’s yet to coach his first game at FAU. Chip Kelly, naturally, because he’s mentioned for every opening.
Even Steve Spurrier got tossed into the mix. According to the Twitter hounds, he apparently expressed interest while lining up a 12-footer somewhere.
And, of course, there’s former LSU coach Les Miles. Canned by the Tigers four games into last season, he was previously linked to Baylor, Houston, Minnesota and Purdue before each ultimately went another direction.
Despite being 64 years old and having made tens of millions of dollars in his career already, the Mad Hatter has shown no desire to hang up his hat once and for all. Miles announced recently he’ll be doing some TV work this fall for multiple networks, but it’s clear he only went that route because he couldn’t get a gig on anyone’s sideline.
Miles has a better chance of being named Tom Brady’s next offensive coordinator than Mississippi’s next head coach.
Baylor didn’t want him. The Bears hired Matt Rhule. Houston didn’t want him. The Cougars hired Major Applewhite. Minnesota didn’t want him. The Golden Gophers hired P.J. Fleck. Purdue didn’t want him. The Boilermakers hired Jeff Brohm.
Rhule (above) is 42 and won 10 games last year at Temple. Applewhite is 38 and just coordinated a Houston offense that averaged 35.8 points per game. Fleck is 36 and took Western Michigan to the Cotton Bowl only a season ago. Brohm is 46 and won 11 games in 2016 at Western Kentucky. They’re all young coaches on an upward trajectory.
Miles is an old coach on a downward spiral. There’s little reason to think he has another memorable run in him.
That’s not to take away from what Miles has accomplished. He’ll never cease to be a Bayou Bengals legend for winning a national championship in 2007, plus his colorful personality should always make him a welcome sight at Death Valley.
But LSU has never been the same after getting embarrassed by Alabama in the 2011 rematch that cost Miles a chance at a second title. Ever since, the Crimson Tide have lapped the field and are in the hunt for another ring every January. The Tigers continue to do less with more than any team in America, arguably.
Most notable, Miles lost his last six matchups with ‘Bama. His inability to compete with Nick Saban was largely responsible for his ouster.
If Miles couldn’t tame the Tide with the talent he had at his disposal with the Bayou Bengals, then he wouldn’t stand a chance coaching the Rebs. With NCAA sanctions likely on the horizon, blue-chip prospects will be going elsewhere for the foreseeable future.
One of Saban’s greatest strengths as a coach is his ability to evolve and not be so stuck on one particular way of doing things. When he first got to Tuscaloosa, he had a traditional offense that ran the ball out of pro-style sets and featured a game manager-type quarterback. His defense was predicated on size and strength.
Nowadays, he employs a spread-option scheme offensively. Jalen Hurts, still more runner than thrower as a QB, is the SEC’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year.
Saban has altered his approach on the other side of the football, too. His defenders are smaller and faster to help neutralize wide-open systems at places like, say, Ole Miss. A 345-pound Terrence Cody has been replaced by a 288-pound Jonathan Allen.
Conversely, Miles (above) doesn’t think much of Darwinism. Even after almost getting fired at the end of the 2015 campaign, when he promised to bring his offense into the 21st century upon staying in power, it was more of the same the following September: elementary in approach, predictable in nature and increasingly easy to defend.
When Miles did hit the interview circuit the last time around, reports surfaced soon thereafter that were far from flattering.
Rhule, Applewhite, Fleck and Brohm walked in the door full of energy and proved that they were ready to take another step up the coaching ladder. Meanwhile, Miles just rambled like he tended to do with his opening comments at Media Days.
Whomever ends up coaching the Rebels for the long haul — don’t dismiss Luke, by the way, as he’s an alumnus and has generational ties to the school — will have a serious rebuild on his hands. A bowl ban for 2017 is already in place. Recruiting has taken a nosedive. The NCAA’s vultures swirl above ready to pick the carcass clean.
Miles wouldn’t be able to just show up, land a Top 10 class on National Signing Day and chew some grass on the way to a 10-win season.
When Baylor finally pulled the plug on the toxic Art Briles, it brought in former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe to quell the storm. But like Miles, Grobe was 64 at the time and not the right choice for an overhaul. It was a one-year stewardship.
Perhaps Mississippi could’ve done something similar with Miles, handing a headset to a veteran who had nothing to do with the previous staff’s myriad indiscretions — all the while searching for a more permanent solution. However, the Rebs wasted no time elevating Luke to interim coach. In all likelihood, Miles never crossed anyone’s mind with a say in the matter.
Baylor didn’t want Miles. Neither did Houston, Minnesota or Purdue. The Rebs must look to the future, not the past.