The first report of Les Miles getting a job offer from Arkansas came this afternoon:
Exclusive: SbB has learned Arkansas is engaged w/ reps of the interests of Les Miles & a $5-yr $27.5M offer is on the table— SPORTSbyBROOKS (@SPORTSbyBROOKS) November 27, 2012
Shortly thereafter, Miles's agent denied that anything was going on. About an hour after that, Bruce Feldman had sources saying that there was something there, but it probably was more about leverage with LSU.
Well, there definitely is something there, and it appears to be a real job offer. Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com is confirming the original SbB report that Arkansas has offered Miles its head coaching job at that rate of $27.5 million over five years. That figure comes out to $5.5 million per year and, according to the USA Today salary database, it would make Miles the nation's highest paid coach.
Miles has an interesting contract with LSU. Whenever he wins a national championship, it stipulates that his salary must rise to become the highest among SEC coaches by $1,000. Even though Miles is the fifth-highest paid coach in the country, his $3.75 million per year salary is more than $1.5 million behind Nick Saban's at Alabama. Had Miles won the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, his pay would be up there. He didn't, and so it's not. As it turns out, winning national titles is a hard thing to do.
I was initially inclined to say this is just Miles angling for a salary bump without winning a crystal football, but this thing has gotten to the point where ESPN heard about it and dug up some "sources" to avoid having to credit Brooks with the scoop. Either this is the biggest Jimmy Sexton Gambit ever, and that'd be something considering that Sexton isn't Miles's agent, or Jeff Long really did offer Miles the job.
I'm not sure what Long's play is here. Miles didn't leave LSU for his own alma mater of Michigan, which also happens to be the winningest program in major NCAA football history. I really don't see him leaving Baton Rouge for a job that is, frankly, a step down from the one he has now in the same division. Joe Alleva will always be able to find enough money to keep Miles where he is if that's the central issue, so Long can't pry Miles away with a Godfather offer. It's a bold move, but it's also one that could blow up in his face. If the fan base doesn't like whoever he ends up with or a prime candidate gets snapped up in the meantime, then he'll be seen as having wasted time on this wild goose chase. Plus, now the actual new head coach is not going to be seen as the first choice.
For Miles, there is no incentive to leave. He's pretty well entrenched at LSU, and as I said, he'll get paid. With his team seemingly a perpetual top 10 or so squad every year, he's got things going at roughly as high a level as they get. What reason is there to go to the other half of the Golden Boot to pick up the pieces that Bobby Petrino left behind and John L. Smith scattered to the winds? Not only would Miles instantly become the most hated person in the state of Louisiana, but his image would be tarnished forever as a mercenary only after money.
I really can't figure this one out, but hey, this story involves both Arkansas and Miles. There's bound to be something weird with them in the picture.