Miles’ flirtation with Hogs pays off

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, December 1, 2012
LSU coach Les Miles speaks Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, on the sidelines during the second quarter against Arkansas at Razorback Stadium.
Photo by Andy Shupe
LSU coach Les Miles speaks Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, on the sidelines during the second quarter against Arkansas at Razorback Stadium.

— Frank Broyles first maximized the Arkansas Razorbacks’ head football coaching potential in the 1960s.

Lou Holtz, Ken Hatfield, Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino proved for varying periods that potential could be sustained, sometimes spectacularly.

It’s a great job, Arkansas.

That said, one would have to be looking through Razorbacks red colored glasses - not shady anthracite gray - to say it’s a job that would make LSU’s head coach bolt Baton Rouge for Fayetteville.

Sure, Les Miles and Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long were once athletic department colleagues at Michigan when Long was an administrator and Miles was an assistant coach.

But it would be strictly because of the money if Miles - who is already ridiculously overpaid, as are nearly all major college head football coaches - were to trade his Tiger stripes for a Hog hat.

Netting both a nice LSU raise and a contract extension immediately after news of Arkansas’ interest, Miles announced Wednesday that he was staying put in Baton Rouge while Long’s coaching search slogs on.

Long has been evaluating candidates since he fired Bobby Petrino on April 10.

It has been anticipated that with so many potential candidates like Big 12 coaches Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Art Briles and Tommy Tuberville, plus Boise State Coach Chris Petersen and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart among those concluding their pre-bowl campaign today, that Long wouldn’t choose to name a coach until beyond this weekend.

That could have changed had Long been able to entice Miles, whose 10-2 regular season concluded with LSU’s 20-13 victory over Arkansas on Nov. 23 in Fayetteville.

It’s not beyond possibility’s realm for a coach to abandon a pinnacle job. Bill Curry fleeing Alabama football for Kentucky and Tubby Smith jumping from Kentucky basketball to Minnesota come to mind. Both leaped ahead of a posse looking to run them out of town.

Some LSU fans may think they have a goofball with the coach called the “Mad Hatter” for his quirky quotes and sometimes bizarre play calling and clock mismanagement, but few call for a coach’s head when he’s 85-20 since 2005 and has played twice for the national championship, winning one.

Miles has done well at a place not completely foolproof, as the tepid Tigers of Curley Hallman attested when Arkansas first joined the SEC in 1992.

Nevertheless, when the Tigers roar for Miles as they did for Nick Saban before him, LSU never rebuilds but reloads.

LSU reloads mainly close to home with a fabulous recruiting base of Louisiana and nearby east Texas, including Houston.

Arkansas obviously lacks that kind of population base and certainly must rebuild after going 4-8 following the 10-3 and 11-2 peaks under Petrino.

As great as Miles has done at LSU, there would have been considerable skepticism about the 59-year-old coach quickly accomplishing similar results under Arkansas’ constraints.

That Miles publicly and repeatedly has mispronounced Arkansas - calling it arKANSAS instead - presumably wouldn’t have helped, either.

Miles will likely pronounce Arkansas correctly now.

He owes it to the Natural State after it fattened his wallet.

Sports, Pages 20 on 12/01/2012