Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The time is now
By Gary Laney GeauxTigerNation
BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Les Miles interviewed for the LSU coaching job in 2005, he made a request in his contract.
It wasn't for an expense account for his wife or for extra incentive bonuses. It was for financial assistance for his kids to attend University Lab -- LSU's private, on-campus school covering kindergarten through high school -- throughout their scholastic careers.
It showed LSU officials that, unlike other candidates with perhaps bigger names, Miles was looking to lay roots in Baton Rouge. That desire to stay at LSU has been repeated, time and again, since.
Les Miles has brought stability and success to LSU.
Twice, Miles rebuffed interest from his alma mater, Michigan. Last June, Miles worked to get raises for his assistant coaches while his own contract was restructured for no more guaranteed money, but more security and better incentives.
Before gaining a raise and contract extension from LSU on Wednesday, Miles had been making about $3.8 million a year guaranteed, the same money he's been making since he guided LSU to the 2007 national championship and earned an automatic bump in pay. Details of the new agreement were not immediately released.
With reports out that Arkansas had been offering to pay Miles considerably more -- $27.5 million over five years, according to Nola.com -- it was time for LSU to give Miles a bump.
Since the 2007 run, there were a couple of years of rebuilding, then three straight double-digit-win teams. The 2011 team played for a national championship. This year's team, despite injuries and dismissed players, came within one late Alabama drive of earning a spot in the SEC championship game, which has become a de-facto BCS semifinal.
Miles has done this while LSU's graduation rate has risen to a level topped only by Vanderbilt in the SEC. His 85-20 record at LSU is the best in the modern era for an LSU coach.
So there's reason for LSU to reward him and there's plenty of reason for Miles to stay.
Maybe the flirtation with Arkansas served as a money grab. After all, regardless of how much money is thrown at it, the Razorbacks job is not as good as the Tigers job. It would have made little sense for Miles to leave LSU for Arkansas for more money.
For $5.5 million -- a figure that would have made Miles the highest-paid coach in college football -- Arkansas would have expected Miles to deliver huge results that might not be possible there, given its recruiting base versus that of the Razorbacks' conference rivals.
Miles knows that as well as anybody. He knows LSU is one of the plum jobs in not only college football, but in all of football.
So perhaps it was nothing more than a money grab from his agent, George Bass. Perhaps Miles' buddy from Michigan, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long (who was a Michigan administrator when Miles was there as an assistant coach), had floated the offer out to do Miles a favor. Maybe it was all bogus and there wasn't an offer at all -- LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said discussions of a new deal had been planned for after the Tigers' bowl game, and those talks were moved up.
It doesn't matter. Miles deserved the raise. Not because of any threat from Arkansas -- that threat probably wasn't real even if the offer was -- but because the next time somebody walks in with a boatload of cash to throw at Miles, it might be at a place that makes more sense for Miles to consider.
But LSU likely protected itself from that possibility by giving Miles his first real raise in five years. With the Tiger Athletic Foundation and its reported $265 million in net assets, according to businessofcollegesports.com, the money was there.
Given Miles' consistent performance, it was worth it.
During the summer, LSU restructured Miles contract to secure his future. Now, Alleva apparently has been able to secure LSU's future.