Friday, September 14, 2007

Maize and Blue Got You Blue?

This blog has not yet discussed the rumors that Les Miles may be coaching the University of Michigan next year. I've been waiting for this post to discuss it.

Let me go on the record right now and say I sure would like for Miles to remain as coach of the LSU Fightin' Tigers for the near future.

To review, Les Miles is a Michigan man. He played under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. He coached under Bo as well. It's long been speculated that the Michigan position is his dream job. Meanwhile, Michigan's current coach is facing widespread rumors that this is his last year on the job, one way or another due to a combination of poor performance, age, and failing health.

So far, Miles has mostly refused to even discuss what is going on at Michigan. Let's examine why that is. First, people keep asking him about a job that is currently occupied. Despite popular opinion, Lloyd Carr has not been fired yet. He's still coaching the Wolverines. Miles knows it would be in very poor taste to go around talking about his interest in a job that is currently occupied. It would be ghoulish to talk about Lloyd Carr as if he was already fired while he's trying to prepare to play the Big 10 schedule. Keeping in mind that Lloyd Carr is Miles' friend, that makes it even less likely that Miles will talk about the job.

Put yourself in Les Miles' position. He has a friend who is struggling at a job there are strong rumors he'd want, if it was open. He keeps being asked about the job as if that friend is already fired. Do you think this is a comfortable topic of conversation for him?

Second, if his agent has been contacted by Michigan officials to gauge his interest in the job (which is certainly possible to have happened), he can't exactly go around saying that. If he says publicly, "Michigan contacted me," even if that's followed with, "and I told them I'm not interested," it would be confirmation that Michigan is calling around asking about coaches' interest in the job. How badly would that hurt Lloyd Carr and the Michigan players to know that Michigan administrators are already looking around for another coach? If that got out, Michigan's season would likely get even worse, and it would make the athletic director look bad. Miles would never do that, if for no other reason than that it would actually make it less likely he'd get the job if he didn't "play ball" with them.

Third, Les Miles has his own team to coach, one that appears to be on the verge of something special. He'd rather not have the distraction.

The unfortunate part of all this is that we'll likely face the talk of Miles going to Michigan for the rest of the season, until one of three things happens:
  1. Michigan actually hires Miles to coach their team;
  2. Michigan hires someone other than Miles to coach their team; or
  3. Michigan decides to retain Lloyd Carr (and he decides not to retire).
The good news is that while this will go on all year, it probably won't go on beyond this year. Most people thought this was Carr's last year regardless of what happened on the field. Many believe he was likely to retire after this year anyway. Now, it looks likely that if he doesn't retire, he'll be fired. And I can hardly blame Michigan. They've lost to their arch-rivals a bunch of times in a row. They haven't won their conference in a while. They've looked awful so far this year despite lofty expectations. Who could blame them for making a change.

But I digress. This is not going to be a Nick Saban-like situation, where LSU faced year after year of rumors that Saban was going to go after whatever NFL jobs happened to be available. Nope. This is going to be resolved this year unless Michigan takes the unexpected action of retaining Lloyd Carr (and Carr takes the unexpected action of not leaving on his own). By January, we'll know if Miles will be leaving or if we'll have him for the next several years, because once the Michigan job is filled, it will be filled for the next 4 years, minimum.

That means that this is unlikely to have a profound effect on recruiting, despite what the message boards are saying. Other teams can tell recruits "Les Miles may be going to Michigan" all they want. The fact is, by the time National Signing Day rolls around in February, we'll know one way or another. If Miles has left, we'll have another coach in place who can put together his own recruiting class. We may lose some recruits, and we may gain some others. No one, however, will be asked to sign with LSU facing uncertainty about who will be their coach in a year or two, which was the case every year Nick Saban was coach here.

I wish we weren't facing these rumors, but it's a compliment to the LSU football program that everyone seems to be assuming that Michigan is interested in Les Miles. Keep in mind, we're not sure they actually ARE interested in Miles, and Michigan message boards are definitely split on the subject. It is by no means certain that hiring Miles would be a popular move among Michigan fans. Which is fine by me, since I like him right here.


Anonymous said...

I like Bullwinkle.

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