Michigan Football: Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh Were Smart To Avoid This Mess

Tim WoodSenior Writer IJanuary 11, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers talks wthi his team during a timeout against the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Les Miles is a very smart man.

Michigan is still an elite program. This is still a top-10 job in college football.

Just not for Les Miles.

That’s saying a lot, too. The guy is regularly trashed by the majority of the LSU fanbase for being a coaching baffoon. That’s not a fun place to be.

But college football coaching is not about fun. It’s about winning and getting paid.

At this very moment, Miles is better set up to win at LSU.

His players pulled out game after game this year when the masses gave the Tigers very little shot. That means he has talent and, despite being among the top five most nationally ridiculed coaches, he still gets his players to play for him.

It bears repeating. Michigan is still a top-10 job in college football. It just isn’t at this moment for a guy like Miles.

The allure of going home is a pipe dream. It lasts until the first conference loss. Then reality sets in. Going home creates exponential pressure and expectations.

Rich Rodriguez wasn’t even deemed the savior—he was merely "anybody other than Lloyd Carr." And look how quickly he got the boot.

Now, with the depths that Dave Brandon has gone to botch this job search, the replacement will have to be merely a place holder for 2011. He has no time to get “his” players. He’s just inheriting a roster built around a system that’s not his.

Not to say that can’t work. Ask Jon Gruden. He inherited the fruits of Tony Dungy’s endless hours of foundation-building in Tampa Bay and rode Dungy’s roster to a Super Bowl win.

But in this situation, this is a lateral move for Miles at best.

Even as the sixth-most buzzed about team in the SEC, it’s still the SEC—the conference that’s won five straight BCS titles.

The Big Ten, even with Nebraska on board, is on the decline. They’re 2002 in a 2011 world.

There are a lot of Wolverines fans wondering how in the world Miles could stay away.

This is very simple, folks.

Miles is a gambler with his playbook. It makes him look like an idiot quite often. In this instance, his poker sensibility is paying off. He is simply playing the percentages.

In poker terms, Miles knows LSU is like holding a pair of nines when a nine and two face cards show up in the flop. Sure, the LSU boosters will pounce the minute he starts losing.

But Miles has enough control and has built enough of a foundation there where he feels like he can keep winning. Yeah, he could be crushed by face cards, but pre-turn, the percentages favor him.

Michigan is like going all in and hoping for a runner-runner miracle to score a flush.

There’s certainly a shot, and boy, if it happened, it would be epic. It’s just not the smart play.

I feel you, Michigan. You’re not used to being the un-smart play.

Blame your AD. Blame your boosters. Blame yourselves.

Rich Rodriguez was a bad hire for Michigan. It made no sense because Ann Arbor was not ready for the culture change he was selling.

Rodriguez has the air of an overly cocky, rules-bending villain. Somehow, Michigan made him into a sympathetic figure by botching every facet of his tenure.

And they ruined any hope of getting the hot hire when they didn’t even have the guts to fire him when there was still time to salvage 2011.

Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles didn’t need Michigan. They’re above the Big House at this stage of their careers.

Guys like Brady Hoke need this gig.

Michigan fans need to quickly come to grips with the fact that an up-and-comer is the best you’re getting to clean up your mess.


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