Personally, I saw all I needed to see of Les Miles in his hastily called news conference Saturday. He affected a barking, angry tone, hands by his hips, at one point tugging emphatically on his sports coat.
“I’m the head coach at LSU,” he declared. “I will be the head coach at LSU. And I have no interest in talking to anybody else.
“I’ve got a championship game to play, and I’m excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play.
“It’s unfortunate that I had to address my team with this information this morning.”
Right. Stop. So long, Les. We’ve put up with a lot of baloney this past week in the Michigan coaching search. But getting belligerent about a process he encouraged, he invited – and he ultimately parlayed into a jackpot?
Sorry. Not swallowing that meatball.
The ugly business of college football
When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. When they say it’s about the school, it’s often about the money. When they say it’s about the program, the kids, the integrity, it’s, well, you know.
Les Miles says he’s happy at LSU. He also claims to love his alma mater, Michigan. He should. U-M just made him a rich man. It won’t be for coaching the Wolverines, however – a job so dear to Miles that his employers, in his contract, foresaw the day he might leave for it.
Instead, the LSU Tigers did the old preemptive blitz and tackled their own guy before Michigan could touch him. Hey. That’s business. It’s hard and cold and nasty and sneaky.
But when Miles acts insulted that he had to deal with this? That’s when the curtain comes down. His people did plenty of talking with U-M. If he was so concerned about distraction, he could have said, “I’m not talking contracts with anyone – and neither are my people – until after Saturday. And that includes LSU.”
Instead, he allowed the drama to play out – up to several hours before kickoff.
“He never wanted to go to Michigan,” LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said.
Don’t be so sure, Skip. Maybe it was that fat contract you waved.
The light at the end of the Big House tunnel
Meanwhile, don’t cry for U-M. It will be fine. This is an elite program, a huge school, kids want to play there, and its tradition will attract a great candidate. If you’ve been happy with the past 40 years of U-M football, remember, Bo Schembechler was a nobody when hired, Gary Moeller only got the job because Bo pushed him for it, and Lloyd Carr was thrust into it when Moeller was abruptly fired for a public incident.
Someone good will wear that whistle. In the interim, maybe those people whispering that Miles was a bad choice were onto something. This is a guy who was bought out of his contract at Oklahoma State and would have to come up with a $1.25-million buyout had U-M taken him from Baton Rouge.
If U-M were truly his dream job, it wouldn’t have hinged on money. He could have told LSU he wanted to explore Michigan, and if it didn’t work out he certainly would have retained his job in Baton Rouge. Instead he grabbed the safest – and shiniest – brass ring.
Good riddance. Move on. Les Miles never was a head coach here, he only shadowed the job for a few weeks. Besides, guys who act angry when they are quietly counting their new money aren’t guys you’re going to miss.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.