Friday, November 16, 2007

What Miles Should Do

I'm still taking it as a given that Les Miles will leave for Michigan if offered the job. For what it's worth, that sentiment is not universal. Some are saying that there is no way that LSU would let Miles keep them on the string until New Year's, and that if we are playing for a national championship, Miles would not leave before the game to go to Michigan.

Now, if you're Les Miles, and you are trying to keep your options open, you would say things like this:
On whether he would say unequivocally LSU is where he'll be next year: I love this place, this is a place I enjoy fully. Again, I’m turning no attention towards any other opportunities. I’m just focused on the job at hand.
This saga will continue until it ends, and our team will be saddled with distractions until the matter is resolved.

I don't blame Les Miles for making equivocal statements about his dedication to the LSU job. I'm a big boy, and I know that people change jobs for one reason or another, but that a college football coach can't come out and say that. Les Miles cannot say, "If Michigan comes asking, I'll listen to them." He also cannot (or should not) say that he is absolutely not a candidate and would not be a candidate if it came up. That's what Saban did at Miami, and he got crucified for it.

Miles has to walk a tight rope. He can't completely deny all interest if he wants to keep his options open. He also can't say, "I'm keeping my options open," because if the opportunity does not come he will have to live with hurt LSU fans. That's just the reality of the college coaching carousel, and I don't have a problem with Miles playing the game at this point.

At this point. Only at this point. If Lloyd Carr announces his retirement next week as is expected, and if Miles is subsequently offered the job, here is what I think Les Miles should do. He should come out and say it publicly. He should say, "I'm in serious talks with Michigan and I expect to be their new head coach. I will continue coaching the team until _______________."

I am OK with Miles leaving, if that's the future. What I don't want is for us and the team to be hanging in limbo for weeks or a month while it happens. Let us know. Let the team know. We'll come to terms with it, and the team will no longer be distracted by the speculation. There would be no need to speculate if you just tell them what's up. The team would know what it's playing for and I think would continue to give their all for this. It would also let the school start its coaching search, which will help the new coach get started with recruiting.

Also, I honestly believe LSU fans would get over it. While I like Les Miles, and I think he's a very good coach, i do not believe he's above criticism. I don't like that we only have one experienced QB coming back next year (and that he may not be coming back). I'm not particularly fond of how we've handled running backs this year. I think Miles had made some mistakes in recruiting, and that those mistakes have led to a lot of players leaving (either voluntarily or involuntarily) at some key positions, such as offensive line.

Don't get me wrong. I think Miles is a good coach. I like how he has developed a sense of family within the team, and I don't think you can fake the level of caring he seems to have for the players. He really seems to be "on their side" in a way that appears to be very genuine, and that the players seem to respond to. He also seems to be very intelligent about convincing talented players to come to LSU. Despite what you may have heard from a certain columnist recently, last year's recruiting class that Les Miles signed is probably the most heralded ever to come to LSU.

All things considered, I'd sure like to keep him for years to come. I think he has been the most successful coach in LSU history to this point in his career, and that the pieces appear to be there for this to continue. It is ALWAYS dangerous for a successful team to go on a search for a new coach. It throws the team into tumult, and even if you find a good coach, he may not be the right fit for your team. While I think LSU is in a position right now to be able to get a good coach, you just never know exactly how it's going to work out. This is a very tough league, much tougher than the Big East, for example. A guy like Rich Rodriguez, who has had success at W. Virginia may find it tougher here, if that's what the future holds.

But if we are to lose him, Miles would be doing us all a favor by telling us as soon as he knows.

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