ATLANTA — Will Les Miles stay or will he go if offered the head coaching job at his alma mater Michigan?
The talk over Miles’ future at LSU continues to dominate conversation on the eve of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between the No. 5-ranked Tigers (10-2) and No. 14 Tennessee (9-3).
LSU officials confirmed Wednesday that Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin asked for permission to speak to Miles about Michigan’s coaching vacancy. LSU granted Martin’s request on the condition that Michigan officials not speak with Miles until after Saturday’s game.
No date has been set for the Michigan meeting. LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman said Thursday he expects to talk with Miles about his future with LSU after the team returns from Atlanta.
“The first thing we want to do is let the game get played,” Bertman said, “and then the first thing Monday we want to see if we can begin the process from our end.”
One member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, Chairman Jerry Shea of New Iberia, said he spoke to Miles last week and that Miles told him that he wants to stay at LSU.
“I would like to see him stay and I think he’s going to stay,” Shea said.
Fellow board member Louis Lambert of Prairieville was less optimistic.
“I hope he stays,” Lambert said, “but I’m not sure based on what I read and what I see. But I hope he stays.”
Shea said he expects the Miles matter to be wrapped up early next week, and that a quick resolution was important to the health of LSU’s football program.
“Everybody wants it to happen sooner than later,” Shea said. “It’s affecting recruiting, the players, the coaches — it’s affecting everybody.”
Shea also said the university and the athletic department have contingency plans if Miles does leave, but would not elaborate on what those are.
“I hope they don’t have to use it,” he said.
Bertman said he met in Baton Rouge recently with Miles’ Dallas-based agent, George Bass.
“I had spoken to George awhile back,” Bertman said. “The chancellor (Sean O’Keefe) called Les to tell him how much the university wants him to stay and I relayed that information to George. He (Bass) said he wanted to come down here anyway and meet.
“No money figures were thrown around, but we did talk about the fact that Les’s contract has performance clauses in it and we all agreed that we want him to stay regardless of the outcome of a single football game. This is not about waiting to see if we win this game or not.”
Bertman said Bass couldn’t act on anything on Miles’ behalf because of the timing of their meeting.
“I didn’t want to bother him (Miles) this week anymore than I want Michigan to bother him this week,” Bertman said. Attempts to reach Bass on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini continues to rank as one of the top candidates to replace the ousted Bill Callahan as head coach at Nebraska. Pelini reportedly interviewed Sunday with interim Nebraska athletic director and football coach Tom Osborne.
Pelini, who was defensive coordinator at Nebraska in 2003 and served as its interim head coach for an Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan, has declined to speak publicly or issue a statement regarding the Nebraska job.
Thursday, LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said Pelini told him: “His focus is squarely on this team and doing whatever he can to get our defense ready to play on Saturday. There’s nothing else on his mind other than LSU football and getting ready for Tennessee.”
Bonnette said Pelini has been at practice every day this week (practices have been closed to the media) and that he will coach in Saturday’s game.
Well, last Friday's loss to Arkansas really put a damper on the Thanksgiving weekend. I'm disappointed that we couldn't pull out the National Championship season, but that does not at all take away from the amount of pride I have in this team! These guys have been playing their hearts out and I won't take anything away from them. Besides, it is true that there isn't a team in the country who has beaten as many ranked teams... not to mention, there isn't another team in the country that can claim their only losses came in triple overtime!
Here's to success in the SEC Championship Game and whatever Bowl we play in. Hey, you never know... a miracle could happen and we could still get in the NC game!
Check out this quote from LSU coach Les Miles:
“I’ve thought about how this season has gone. Certainly we would like to have the last game back. We understand what that has cost us in our national ranking and what it means. Right now, I would like to talk about what we are, and not what we just lost. What we are is one hell of a football team. I like our team, especially the character of our team. If you think about this football team, we have not been healthy since the first game of the year. Yet, no matter who we call on to go in and make plays, they make plays.”
“This team has not lost a game in regulation. I know it does not mean much to you guys (media.) The point is, in a 60 minutes game, we play as competitive as we can be. There is not a team that we have played that has bested us in the first 60 minutes. If you had to look at the length and width of the game, that is how it is measured. Then you go to overtime, and I think our overtime system is just as flawed as any other overtime system. It’s just the way it is and it is probably correct. You have to decide it then where it takes the length of the field and certain situations out of it. It is imperfect, but a darn good system. You tell me if there are other teams in this country that can say that. If you just give us ties, like in the old system, we are undefeated with two ties. Maybe that adds up as one lost.”
“Go find a team that has losses that only came in overtime. Go find a team that compares competitively with five nationally-ranked teams and has done extremely well. I am talking about our team and what we can be, not what we just lost. I think our best football is coming. I haven’t talked to my team yet today, but I can say this – there is too much character on this team not to understand that 10 wins, third-straight time at this school, has not been done before, is special.”