Western Michigan Broncos

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers look on during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Les Miles reportedly ‘out’ as a candidate at Western Michigan

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Well, at least theoretically it was fun while it lasted.

In a television interview Wednesday, former LSU head coach Les Miles intimated that he would be open to the Western Michigan job if it was offered. Based on one report, there will be no decision for the Mad Hatter to weigh.

How serious a candidate, if at all, Miles was remains to be seen — FootballScoop.com noted they had heard the two sides spoke earlier in the week — although it always just seemed like he would end up in broadcasting for a year before getting back into the coaching game on the next spinning of the coaching carousel.

As for the WMU opening moving forward, it appears the search could be wrapped up as early as this weekend.

Tim Lester, a former Broncos quarterback who’s in the school’s Hall of Fame, and Northwestern assistant Matt MacPherson have interviewed for the job, as has Michigan running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley. It appears though that, like Miles’, Wheatley’s candidacy has come to an end.

Finally, FootballScoop is also reporting that WMU is planning to meet with current Alabama offensive line coach and former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal at some point Friday. Speculation is that Cristobal and Lester are the front-runners and that a decision — and even an announcement — could come as early as Saturday.

P.J. Fleck still working on taking ‘Row the Boat’ to Minnesota

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 02:  P.J. Fleck, head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos looks on during the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Western Michigan and Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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Will P.J. Fleck keep rowing the boat in the Twin Cities? The new Minnesota head coach certainly would like to.

Fleck told ESPN on Thursday that he is working with his old school Western Michigan about bringing the trademark phrase with him to the Gophers after making the mantra key to his turnaround in Kalamazoo.

“It comes from a very personal, personal tragedy in my life and that’s where ‘Row the Boat’ came from,” said Fleck. “So, I really hope they do see that, and [that] they are willing to allow me to take that, but we’ll see as we move forward. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it, but I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people’s lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area.”

Fleck told the network that the phrase came about after he and his wife lost their second son to a heart condition. The Broncos’s board of trustees currently owns the trademark, but have stayed mum on turning it over to their ex-coach so far.

Given how these things usually play out, it seems like the phrase will eventually make its way to the Big Ten once the two schools agree on some form of compensation. After handing Fleck a five-year contract worth $18.5 million, that probably won’t be too much of a hurdle for Minnesota but it may take some times for everything to fall into place.

Until then? The head coach will probably stick with saying ‘elite’ quite a bit until he can bring his trademark phrase to Minneapolis.

Deshaun Watson claims back-to-back Manning Awards

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after a touchdown by running back Wayne Gallman #9 (not pictured) during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Deshaun Watson may be off to the NFL, but he’s taking one more piece of collegiate hardware with him.

Thursday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that Watson, one of 10 finalists, has been named as the recipient of the 2016 Manning Award.  The Clemson quarterback won the Manning after the 2015 season, making him the first player to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

The other finalists for this year’s Manning Award were: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Luke Falk (Washington State), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Zach Terrell (Western Michigan).  Seven of those 10 finalists (Barrett, Browning, Darnold, Falk, Hurts, Jackson, Mayfield) will return in 2017 with another opportunity to claim the Manning.

The award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — Archie, Peyton and Eli — is the only one to take into account a player’s performance in the postseason.  And what a postseason performance it was for Watson.

In the national championship game win over defending champ Alabama, Watson accounted for 463 yards of offense and four touchdowns against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense.  It was the perfect ending for a stellar collegiate career.

“Over the years, we have seen so many tremendous performances in the postseason, and this year we saw Deshaun Watson turn in an amazing two-game playoff performance,” said Archie Manning in a statement. “When the Allstate Sugar Bowl created the Manning Award in 2004, one of the key components was to recognize achievements throughout the entire year, including bowls, and now the playoff. This year is a prime example of why we do that.”

A Heisman finalist each of the past two seasons — some would say if the Heisman followed the Manning lead and voted after the postseason he would’ve won at least one — Watson also claimed the Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas quarterbacking awards.  He also won the former in 2015.

Dabo Swinney wins second straight Bear Bryant coaching award

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Dabo Swinney vanquished Bear Bryant‘s former team in the national championship game earlier in the week.  Last night, the Clemson head coach claimed an award named in the legend’s honor.  Again.

At a ceremony Wednesday, Swinney was named as the 2016 recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award.  Swinney won the award last year, and is the first in its history to win it in  back-to-back seasons.

The former Alabama walk-on becomes just the second two-time winner, joining Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006, 2009).

Monday night, Swinney guided the Tigers to its first national championship in more than three decades.

Swinney and his counterpart on the opposing sideline, Nick Saban, were two of the nine finalists for the award.  The other seven included Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Clay Helton (USC), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre (Colorado) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma).

Les Miles open to considering Western Michigan job?

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers look on during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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There are currently two FBS head-coaching jobs open.  Could the Mad Hatter land at one of them?

This spinning of the coaching carousel, Les Miles has been on the outside looking in.  Rumored to be in play for the Purdue and Houston jobs, the former LSU head coach watched as Jeff Brohm landed at the former and Major Applewhite took over the latter. Just this month, Miles interviewed for the vacancy at Minnesota; that one went to P.J. Fleck, who left Western Michigan to take it.

WMU remains open, as does Cal.  Could — or, more to the point, would — Miles drop down to a MAC school in oder to continue his collegiate coaching career this year?  The New Orleans Times-Picayune seems to think it’s a possibility, reporting that Miles hinted that he would be open to taking the WMU job during an ESPN interview Wednesday.

Below is the Times-Picayune‘s transcription of a portion of the interview:

Certainly there are the top-division schools that can play for a championship year in and year out, certainly I fit there, but when you sign up for coaching, here’s what you do,” he said. “You say ‘Listen, I’m going to take a group of guys and I’m going to make them better. I’m going to take what I have and improve and direct and pull together and there’s an enjoyment with the process.’

“I enjoy the grind. I enjoy coming in early, I enjoy seeing guys that are working hard. It’s a part of my culture, it’s a part of the culture of the teams I’ve coached. We like to work hard. We approach the game in a matter-of-fact way and we figure that we’re going to win.

Yeah, I guess he didn’t exactly slam the door shut and bolt it.  Still, it’d be surprising if Miles didn’t sit this season out, settling into a television job until another Power Five job came along after the 2017 season.

Besides, would WMU really want to hand the keys of the football program over to a coach who would seemingly be a one-and-done or, at best, a two-and-done, putting them right back where they are now?