The price on Les Miles' head
By Glenn Guilbeau
Louisana Gannett News
BATON ROUGE — There is a price on LSU coach Les Miles' head should he ever become the coach at Michigan, where he once played and coached twice.
Michigan does not have an opening now, but it also did not have an opening in January of 2005 when LSU athletic director Skip Bertman hired Miles from Oklahoma State and put a $1.25 million buyout into Miles' contract.
"They understood because of Les' background. It was not a sticking point," Bertman said Monday. "Les is real happy here, and I think it's a little premature to be talking about that stuff.
And of course, I have had no calls from Michigan, and Les of course has never said anything and naturally he's going to focus on the football team. They might call, I don't know. I'll worry about that if the time comes."
And just in case, Bertman had Miles and his agent, George Bass of Dallas, agree to the Michigan item on page 10 of Miles' 20-page contract that was signed on Jan. 21, 2005.
Under "Termination of Coach," the contract reads:
"Coach covenants and agrees that as part of the consideration of this agreement he will not seek nor will he accept employment as a football coach at the University of Michigan for the term of this agreement.
It being expressly understood that should coach accept employment at the University of Michigan, coach shall pay to the University (LSU) in lieu of all other legal remedies, liquidated damages in the sum of one million two hundred fifty ($1,250,000.00) dollars and will forfeit any claim to funds under Section 11 of this contract."
Bass said he has spoken to no one at Michigan.
"Michigan's still got a coach," Bass said Monday. "We're focusing on LSU. I had no problem with it (the Michigan wording) because we wanted to be the coach at LSU. Sure we understood where he (Bertman) was coming from. LSU's a wonderful job. We weren't taking this job as a stepping stone to go to Michigan."
Miles said it was not surprising that Bertman would be wary of his Michigan ties.
"I'm certain that there was probably some thought given to that by Skip," Miles said after his press luncheon Monday. "But it was not an issue, certainly not an insurmountable issue in any way. I wanted to be here. Understand, that was three years ago."
Apparently, Miles still wants to be here. He again raved about the Tiger Stadium experience two days after his No. 2 Tigers destroyed No. 9 Virginia Tech 48-7 in front of the largest home crowd in LSU history at 92,739. Michigan's Big House seats nearly 108,000.
"It is evident why GameDay and most of America now recognize what we have known for quite some time — that this is the finest game day environment in America," he said.
When asked for the second straight day about a possible Michigan opening, Miles said, "I can tell you that it appears to me that it would be unfair for me to talk about another school when I have a great team and a group of players that I'm very responsible to and a place that I love and enjoy representing.
So I'm not going to talk about other schools. It's kind of a waste of what can be a very productive time for my team."
Asked again, Miles said, "You know what, I'm worried about Middle Tennessee (LSU's opponent Saturday). I know that you guys want me to get into this, but I'm not. And I'm not going to get into it at home, and I'm not going to get into it at the office."
Lloyd Carr, 62, is in his 13th year at Michigan and has been very successful, but he has been losing to Ohio State lately and there has been talk for more than a year that he will step down soon.
Last summer, Jim Carty of the Ann Arbor News wrote about Miles, whose wife Kathy is a former Michigan women's assistant basketball coach, as a strong candidate. Then Carr got the Wolverines off to their first 0-2 start since 1959 with a season-opening loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State.
"The guy can coach and the guy loves Michigan, and everyone I've spoken to who has worked for him, or played for him, gushes about him (including some Michigan folks incidentally)," Carty wrote last July. "My opinion is that Les Miles will certainly get an interview (assuming he wants one), and has a better chance than most candidates to get the job.
"Bertman, who won five national championships as LSU's baseball coach, knows all about the desire that coaches have to return to the homeland. He considered it throughout his coaching career at LSU from 1984 through 2000. Miami, where he played and was an assistant, twice talked to him about returning.
"I remember saying, 'It's better here,'" Bertman said.
Bertman hopes Miles feels the same way should Michigan have an opening.
"Quite honestly, this is a better school to be the football coach at than most schools in the United States," Bertman said. "It's in a great community. And you don't have to worry about an Ohio State here.
Of all the schools in the United States, LSU can lock up every kid in Louisiana. At Florida, you can't. There's Miami and Florida State. In Alabama, you can't. There's Auburn. There's only one big time school here."
The News Star - www.thenewsstar.com - Monroe, LA
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