Fayetteville, Ark. – Amid all the coaching rumors centered upon the Arkansas Razorback job perhaps the most far fetched of them all came out Tuesday night from ESPN.
A report stated Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long had offered Les Miles the job in the neighborhood of five years at $5 million per.
To those outside of Arkansas this may seem like a reasonable offer made to one of the top coaches in college football. To those that follow not only Arkansas football but SEC football closely, they know that this report has to be categorically untrue… has to be, right?
There is a tie that binds Jeff Long and Les Miles, University of Michigan. How strongly the two are tied together via friendship or as acquaintances remains to be seen.
The other play in the rumor would be an assumed bump in salary for Les Miles from $3.75 million per year to a reported $5 million.
Long might be the kind of athletic director Miles would want to work with or under going forward. But Miles is set up nicely at LSU and honestly he would not survive at Arkansas for very long if this rumor were to become true.
Miles has a great record at LSU, 85-20, which includes three straight 10 plus win seasons and one runner-up finish in last year’s national championship game.
In 2007 Miles’ 38-24 national championship win over Ohio State speaks volumes by itself. The trouble is Miles could not get away with his coaching antics or style at Arkansas as he does at LSU.
For years LSU fans have been frustrated with the way “The Mad Hatter” calls plays, his clock management, and his unconventional style or timing of certain plays he runs.
The lack of a passing game has been a bigger sore spot than the previously mentioned problems for most LSU fans as well.
Due to recruiting differences between LSU and Arkansas, Miles can take certain liberties with play calling that he would not be able to do as head coach of the Razorbacks.
Each time Miles steps on the field with his LSU team they are as talented as any other team in the nation in terms of raw ability and recruiting stars per publications. Conventional wisdom dictates that Miles would not have that same luxury at Arkansas thus a different approach to the game would be needed that Miles may not be able to offer.
A scary thought for some Arkansas fans would be to compare Les Miles to one former Razorback head coach, Houston Nutt. Fans in camps for the Razorbacks, Tigers, and even Ole Miss Rebel fans may take heavy offense to the statement but the reality is it is true.
Nutt preferred a grind it out running game followed up with a bend but don’t break defense. Neither coach is known for throwing the ball or any creativity in the passing game what-so-ever.
The difference between the two in large part has been the amount of talent on the field year after year.
When Nutt had All-Americans on the offensive line (Jason Peters, Shawn Andrews, and Brandon Burslworth) and in the backfield (Felix Jones and Darren McFadden) he won a lot of games. He still lost too many games he should have won, but he still won eight or more games six times in ten years at Arkansas, a noteworthy achievement. Consider another fact, Miles never won 10 games while head coach at Oklahoma State.
Can Arkansas become a landing spot for top recruits, yes, but that dedication to national recruiting had not taken place until Bobby Petrino stepped foot in Fayetteville. How much Les Miles really has to hit the recruiting trail can be debated. The LSU program sells itself right now. At Arkansas he would have to double the effort to come close to his yearly consensus Top 10 recruiting classes.
For the Hogs to take the next step in becoming a regular fixture in the AP Top 10 a recruiting monster and/or an offensive genius that can do more with less like former head coach Bobby Petrino is needed. Miles does not fit that bill and one would have to assume that Jeff Long is well aware of this fact.
Arkansas fans reported seeing Les Miles on campus recently adding fuel to this fire. Pure speculation but the best money bet would be Miles was either helping an old friend out (Long) with his coaching search, simply touring the campus seeing the numerous upgrades Long and company have made to the sports facilities, or was in town recruiting future football prospects.