Name: Les Miles
Education: University of Michigan
Experience: graduate assistant, Michigan (1980-81); offensive line coach, Colorado (1982-86); offensive line coach, Michigan (1987-94); offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State (1995-97); tight ends coach, Dallas Cowboys (1998-2000); head coach, Oklahoma State (2001-2004); head coach Louisiana State (2005-present).
Pros: Miles has a lot in his favor. He’s a Michigan alum and played under revered coach Bo Schembechler in the 1970s. He turned around a perennially awful Oklahoma State program, leading it to bowls in his final three years there. Miles has also fielded one of the country’s top teams in his seasons at Louisiana State, a high-profile program like Michigan. He’s won at least 10 games and a bowl game in each of his seasons in Baton Rouge. With a record of 32-6 as the Tigers’ head coach, Miles has reached a level of success Michigan desires.
Cons: Some have questioned Miles’s in-game coaching decisions. He went for five fourth-down conversions against Florida (succeeding on all of them) and chose to attempt a long pass with 13 seconds left and his team trailing by one point against Auburn. The pass was completed for a touchdown with one second to spare, but many wondered why Miles didn’t simply attempt a 39-yard field goal for the win.
Why he’ll get it: Miles simply appears to be the best candidate for the job. He has almost every qualification Athletic Director Bill Martin cited. He’s been a successful head coach at every stop, he has Midwest ties, he wants to coach at Michigan and he understands the Michigan football program. Miles has made it known that coaching at Michigan is his dream, and it’s unlikely another coach with his pedigree (of which there are few) would leave his current post to come to the Wolverines.
Why he won’t: There have been questions about Miles’ ethics on the recruiting trail. Some jokingly called him “Loose Morals” in the past, and Martin wants to protect the integrity of the program above all else. But these rumblings have quieted recently, and many have vouched for Miles’ honesty. But outgoing Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is thought not to get along with the Louisiana State coach (Miles “stole” prize recruit Jai Eugene from Carr in 2006), and Carr is rumored to have a serious role in the coaching search. Martin also said he’d like to clone Carr for his next head coach, and if Carr doesn’t like Miles, that would diminish Miles’ chances.
What people are saying: “I can’t tell you my appreciation. My wife, my first born, my entire life is marked by my time at Michigan.” – Les Miles