Les Miles, the former LSU coach who was fired earlier this year, should coach college football again in 2017. He’s just too good of a coach to sit the year out, and he’s certainly too good of a recruiter to spend another season watching the game on television.
Sure, he was fired from LSU because he couldn’t get the Tigers over the hump and yes, he may have been a bit stubborn or even crazy at times. Miles still is a national-championship-winning coach, though, and he has plenty of experience winning big games in college football’s toughest conference.
Plus, according to a new report from ESPN, Miles not only seems open to coaching again, but he seems open to change. Under Miles’ leadership, LSU was known for tough, grind-it-out football on both sides of the ball. But according to Brett McMurphy’s latest report, the “Mad Hatter” may actually be looking to open things up.
“I’m looking for a place dedicated to the players’ achievement in the classroom and that wants to win championships,” Miles told ESPN. “If there’s an athletic director and president that wants to do that, I’m in line.”
“Since getting fired at LSU, Les has really had an epiphany on how he needs to open up offensively at his next stop,” a source told ESPN. “He is committed to it.”
McMurphy reported that Miles is actually studying “high-octane” offenses and actually mentioned Baylor as one of the programs he’s been watching in an effort to learn. He’s also reportedly already piecing together an assistant coaching staff.
So yeah, it sounds like Miles is committed to coming back to college football a changed man. And if he can bring his championship pedigree, players-coach attitude and recruiting acumen along with him — he could end up being a massive hire for some lucky program.
With that in mind, which schools should take a long, hard look at Miles this offseason?
Here’s a list.
It’s not definitive and there’s no inside information driving it. Just call it a wish list from one college football fan to another. We’ll rank it from most attractive to least attractive from Miles’ perspective.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Baylor already has an interim head coach in place in Jim Grobe, and Miles has reportedly been studying the program.
Imagine if he takes Baylor’s explosive offense and adds some elements of his own smash-mouth mentality to it up front, as well as on defense.
After firing Art Briles, who was undoubtedly a good X’s and O’s coach, this really wouldn’t be a step down for Baylor. The biggest challenge for the Bears in courting Miles would be convincing him that the sexual assault scandal is well behind both the program and the school, and it won’t happen again. From there, Miles is definitely the guy to convince elite recruits to give Waco another chance.
Oregon — and its Nike backing — would obviously be an extremely attractive option for Miles. Of course, there is a catch. Mark Helfrich is currently the head coach and perhaps nobody not named Chip Kelly knows the Ducks’ high-flying offensive system better than him.
With that said, Oregon has obviously dipped in national relevance in the past few seasons. Helfrich started off strong as Kelly’s replacement, going 11-2 in his first season and 13-2 in 2014 with a win in the Rose Bowl and an appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game.
Since then, though, Oregon has been underwhelming. The Ducks went 9-4 with a loss in the Alamo Bowl in 2015 and they’re currently in the midst of a three-win season.
If the powers that be at Oregon decide to go in a different direction before finding out if this ride has an even worse ending, Miles could be an intriguing option — especially if he really does want to open up on offense.
Somehow, some way, Mark Stoops has Kentucky ranked No. 2 in the SEC East, trailing 6-1 Florida for the lead in the division. This is a Kentucky team that is currently 5-3 and 4-2 in SEC play mind you.
Yes, Kentucky is exceeding expectations, but the fact remains that Stoops is 17-27 in the midst of his fourth year of the program. If the Kentucky brass believes that this is the high-water mark for the program under Stoops, why not make an overture to Miles?
He’ll be able to continue coaching SEC football and perhaps his recruiting profile would make the football program less of a joke in comparison to John Calipari and the hoops team.
Darrell Hazell is out at Purdue and unless the Boilermakers want to stick with interim head coach Gerad Parker, the school is going to have to get on the head coaching market very soon.
Purdue football has produced a huge “meh” lately as far as response is concerned, but one way to drum up a ton of excitement would be to hire Miles.
He’d be a big name that could get recruits interested in Purdue, and if he comes in with a hybrid offensive style, perhaps that’s something that could succeed in the Big Ten West.
Kansas, much like Kentucky, is a school dominated by its basketball team, and for good reason. With that said, perhaps a coach like Miles could help turn that around, and at the very least help the football program make a ripple of an impact on Saturday afternoons.
At Kansas, Miles could coach in the wide-open Big 12 and being right in the middle of the county means he’ll be right in the middle of just about any recruiting territory he could think of.
Of course, this is predicated on the Jayhawks firing David Beaty, but that’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. Beaty went 0-12 in 2015 and he’s currently 1-7 this season.
The Jayhawks could use a big splash, and Miles would be just that.