Les Miles Extension: When Will an Athletic Director Call a Coach's Bluff?
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According to ESPN, head coach Les Miles and LSU agreed on a seven-year contract and a pay raise Wednesday. But hopefully an athletic director will have the nerve to call a coach's bluff in the future.
Not because I care that schools are overpaying coaches. Not because I do not want coaches to get raises. Hell, not even because I do not enjoy seeing athletic directors get duped and panic. To be honest, if you can get paid, get paid.
No, I want to see this happen because I think it will be one of the biggest game-changers on the collegiate landscape. It would shift the power dynamic, and that would be quite intriguing to see.
Look, it is the same tactic that coaches use on recruits and players on a near daily basis. If you do not want to play for me, on my terms, then there is this kid over here who will gladly do those things. Coaches cut bait if a kid becomes too much trouble or if a recruit is requiring more work than he's worth.
Every athletic director cannot do this. Tom Jurich at Louisville will not be looking at Charlie Strong, telling him to kick rocks if an Auburn offer comes and Strong asks Jurich to match. He cannot afford to lose Strong, the coach who, after the Steve Kragthorpe era, rebuilt Louisville into a contender for a BCS bowl.
However, in the case of Les Miles, Joe Alleva was one of the few guys who was in a position to sit there, stare Les and his agent dead in the face and say, "No" when the question of a raise came up.
LSU is a job that, with the exception of a very small handful of guys, coaches would be tripping over their own feet to get a shot at. Alleva would have had the luxury of handpicking a candidate of his liking. And, truth be told, he might have ended up with a better actual coach than the one he has right now.
Again, every athletic director does not have the same luxury as Alleva when it comes to playing hardball with their current coach. Some people, including Randy Gyorko of College Football News, pointed to Gene DeFilippo, the man ultimately responsible for Boston College's woeful last few seasons:
@inthebleachers Didn't BC kinda do that with Jagozinski (of however you spell it)?Not the same as he did NFL interview, but closest thing— Randy Gyorko (@gyorkocfn) November 28, 2012
"Kind of" is the operative term here. Ultimately what DeFilippo did was not play hardball; he played crybaby and took his ball to go home.
Do you think an athletic director will ever tell a successful coach "no" concerning a raise?
Jeff Jagodzinski was not using his Jets interview to play Boston College to get a raise the way Miles played LSU. Jags was going to get some interview experience for a job he had no real shot at getting so that he could better prepare himself for the future.
DeFilippo, having recently lost Tom O'Brien, levied an ultimatum, tried a scare tactic and ultimately ended up with Frank Spaziani as his head coach and a lot of losing on the table.
So, no, this tactic is not for everyone. More importantly, it is not a scare tactic. It is a legitimate move for a guy with legitimate options. Alleva is a guy in that position.
It has not happened yet, but the time that an athletic director truly believes in his Rolodex and its ability to fill the job instead of paying out the wazoo is coming. Someone will let their coach know that he is replaceable. When that day comes, expect a major shift in the landscape.
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