With New Mexico’s firing of Mike Locksley earlier this week, the 2011 Head Coaching Carousel is officially open for business.
Coincidentally or not, a report surfaced Wednesday that a college coach who’s anything but part of the Hot Seat portion of the carousel could become a target of the big-boy football league in the very near future.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com writes that the perception some NFL executives have of the “wacky, Mad Hatter” persona of Les Miles “is changing drastically” and the LSU coach “will definitely be pursued by teams in need of a head coach at the end of the season.” NFL executives went so far as to intimate Miles is a 21st-century Jimmy Johnson; the current FOX pregame personality was a very successful coach at the collegiate level before transitioning to the NFL, winning two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys in the mid-nineties.
Oddly enough, Miles does have some NFL experience, and it came with the Cowboys; from 1998-2000, Miles was Dallas’ tight ends coach. In keeping with the whole reverse JJ career arc, Miles then moved on to become head coach at Oklahoma State, where Johnson had also been the head coach prior to moving on to the Miami Hurricanes and ultimately the NFL.
Whether Miles makes the move back to the NFL ala Johnson remains to be seen. What appears to be a certainty is that Miles will be a hot commodity for NFL teams at some point in the next couple of months.
“He’s the most intriguing coaching prospect I’ve seen in a long time,” one team executive told Freeman. “I think he has a great deal of talent and can deal with the modern athlete.”
Through his words and actions, Miles has made it perfectly clear that, at least for now, he’s very happy with his current coaching gig in Baton Rouge. Earlier this year, Miles had the opportunity to leave LSU for Michigan, his alma mater, but opted to remain with the Tigers after meeting with officials from UM.
Late last month, a contract extension that could technically keep Miles at LSU through the 2017 season was formally approved by the school’s board of supervisors. While Miles received no bump in the $3.75 million he was scheduled to receive annually under his old contract, there are “enhanced opportunities” for additional compensation based on championships and postseason accomplishments built into the revamped deal.
Personally, Miles just “seems” like a college coach from where I’m standing. Then again, I said the same thing about Jim Harbaugh before he left Stanford for San Francisco this offseason. It’s unclear if Miles is cut from the same coaching cloth as Harbaugh, although we’ve heard The Hat described in the past as “a college coaching lifer” by those familiar with his thinking.
Again, though, similar things were being said of Harbaugh right up until he bolted for the 49ers. In other words, LSU fans, buckle up; it’s going to be a bumpy next couple/few months on the speculation front.