Les Miles to Colorado? Why LSU's Head Coach Might Be a Buffalo Soldier

Henry BallSenior Analyst IOctober 30, 2010

"Les Miles of LSU probably could be lured to CU," says Woody Paige of the Denver Post.

Paige, also a regular on ESPN's "Around the Horn" is known to throw comments from left field from time to time, but is he even in the ball park on this one?

At $3.75M per year (guaranteed through 2014) Les Miles, one of the highest paid coaches in the country, has led the LSU Tigers to their best six-year record in school history and just three years ago hoisted the BCS Crystal Coaches' Trophy.

He has one of the top five recruiting classes in the country lined up for LSU and his team, save one or two positions, is one of the deepest and most talented in the country.

Could the University of Colorado really lure Miles away from the Bayou? 

Paige says, "Miles and LSU have just about had enough of each other"

There might be a point to LSU and Miles being near the end of their love for one another.  In fact, it is questionable if LSU ever "loved" Miles in the first place.

Winning the 2007 National Championship has garnered Miles as much ridicule as it has praise in some circles.  Despite the fact that the vast majority of the players on the 2007 team never saw the playing field under Miles' three year removed predecessor Nick Saban, he is given as much credit as Miles for that trophy by an alarming number of LSU fans.

I say alarming because it seems the link to Nick Saban, University of Alabama's reigning National Championship coach, is something LSU fans just can't to let go of.

Some, who actually burned his likeness in effigy in Tuscaloosa and then in Baton Rouge two years ago hate Nick Saban for leaving LSU after the 2004 season.

That same crowd, that seems to be the vast majorty of those that express opinions on fan blogs and forums, hate Miles and always have simply for not being named Nick Saban.

Miles—who has had to deal with that enormous shadow since day one—fielded a question on his weekly radio show two weeks ago about Nick Saban's Michigan State team from a fan "apologizing in advance for bringing up 'that' name on your show."

Miles answered the question and then added "How could you bring that name up on my show? You know I can't stand...Michigan State,” referring to his allegiance to his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

It was vintage Miles and illustrates how well the often badgered head coach suffers fools.  Yet, you have to wonder if the Mad Hatter—who was recently quoted as saying "it's just a hat and there is nothing mad underneath it"—is not growing tired of the over the top criticism of a growing number of demanding fans that expect nothing short of a championship every year.

LSU certainly will not fire Miles.  With a buyout of $11.25M to $15M (LSU may not have allowed a contractual extension after the 2008 season according to an undisclosed source at LSU) and a 9-plus win season all but certain at this point.

But what is also a certainty is that LSU fans will become more impatient and even less supportive with anything less than beating Alabama next weekend and running the table to compete for a spot in the BCS.

Famously, Miles once showed complete loyalty to LSU by turning down an opportunity to coach at Michigan, his reported dream job when reports of his imminent hire surfaced just prior to the Tigers’ showdown with Tennessee in the 2007 SEC Championship game.

That press conference, the SEC Title and the BCS National Title that followed endeared Miles to many LSU fans forevermore, yet a growing number have simply dismissed it as the end of the Saban era.

With that said, would Miles do it again?  Short of Michigan, Miles has been on the record saying Boulder, CO was his favorite place to live and coach.

Miles was O-line coach and recruiting coordinator under former CU great Bill McCartney.  In fact, McCartney's grandson is currently a walk-on QB at LSU pursuing a future coaching career. 

Miles might be the one man that could quickly restore CU's former recruiting prowess, not only knowing the recruiting trail brick by brick, but now having a National reputation as one of the best recruiters in the country.

Miles has been extremely successful in landing out of state talent to go with the very best of talent rich Louisiana and has continued to attract very capable and well respected assistants.

Miles was also the recruiting coordinator when most of the upper-classmen on the 1990 Colorado National Championship team were recruited to CU.

Colorado may lack the facilities to match what LSU and the top tier SEC programs have to offer but have more than adequate facilities and other amenities to compete in the Pac-10, which Colorado joins next season.

On top of that, Boulder is a beautiful place to live and CU is probably one of the top 10 college settings in the country.

If Colorado wants to be a serious contender in their new conference a move to hire a coach of Les Miles' accomplishments would be a bold first step. 

Miles would unquestionably raise the national exposure for the program and if he is able to turn things around he could become a force in the Pac-10.  The increased exposure and ticket sales could certainly help the athletic department begin to upgrade their facilities and the 'Miles High Mad Hatter' could be a solid investment for the long term health of the Buffaloes' athletic program.

That investment would need to be far more than the $1.1M current coach Dan Hawkins is earning.

The question for LSU is, where would they turn for a coach to carry on the exceedingly high standards established over the last decade in Baton Rouge?  LSU might indeed be one of the elite destinations in college football, but how many established 'elite' coaches are not entrenched in their current programs.

How many coaches could LSU hire that would guarantee an 80% winning percentage, an automatic major bowl invitation, a top five annual recruiting class and a crystal football every five years or so?

Is LSU willing to allow on the job training for an unproven coordinator?

Think about this question; how many programs historically hire three national championship winning  coaches in a row?

Miami did it with Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson, does LSU have what it takes to match that feat?  If they do, LSU might become the first true Dynasty since 'the U' ended it's run mired in NCAA sanctions and in disarray with the era of Larry Coker coming to an unceremonious (40-3) end at the hands of none other than Les Miles and his inaugural LSU squad in the 2005 Peach Bowl.

If Colorado is willing to up the ante to about $2.5M per year with a long term contract and some healthy performance incentives it would be a sure bet considering the current state of the program but for LSU it might well be the proverbial case of be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.


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