LSU Coaching Candidate Wish List: Potential Les Miles Replacements

    If Les Miles resigns/gets fired, who are the top replacement options for the LSU head coaching job?

    November 23, 2015

    LSU coaching candidate wish list should the Tigers part ways with Les Miles.


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    When Les Miles was hired by LSU in 2005, if you had told Tiger fans that in just under 11 seasons he’d come up with 110 wins, 32 losses, one national title, a strange BCS final ranking in 2011 away from being a two-time national champion – Alabama got a second shot instead of Oklahoma State getting into the top two – two SEC titles, seven ten-win seasons, and a boatload of talented players sent off to the NFL, they’d have been figuring out where to put the statue.

    But Nick Saban and Alabama are about to win yet another SEC West title, yet another SEC championship, and yet another national title, and LSU types want that, too.

    It might seem insane to get rid of a head coach who just three games ago – actually, just two games ago – had the program in position to challenge for the national title as one of the elite of elite teams, but this might be a case of trying to nip something in the bud a year too early than a year too late. Better to a step ahead of the game and turn into Texas and get into the problems over undergoing a complete gut-job overhaul.

    So let’s say there really is a blazing fire to all the smoke surrounding the Miles To Be Relieved Of Duties talk going on. Who’s next?

    Who’d be worthy of a job whose expectations are national-title-or-bust in a conference with more than half the programs with national-title-or-bust expectations and one big, giant, massive problem hanging out there that isn’t going away in the next three-to-five years over in Tuscaloosa? Who’d really want that job?

    Who’d be that one head coach who’d take over at LSU and in the next ten-plus seasons win 110 games, one national title, come close to another, and take two SEC championships? Here are five thoughts …

    The Going Back To The Well Option Is …


    Mike Gundy, head coach, Oklahoma State

    It worked out well the last time LSU took a head coach from Oklahoma State, and Gundy appears ready for a next-step job. Not that coaching at the place he starred as a quarterback and took to a Big 12 title and the brink of a few others isn’t fun for the 48-year-old, but he’s been at OSU as long as Miles has been at LSU – it’s time. While he’s the 180-degree opposite of Miles in terms of charm and personality, and he’d have to prove he could be the same sort of peerless recruiter, Gundy is in the team photo of head coaches who’ve done the most with less over the last ten years. Not that Oklahoma State is some Podunk program, but he’s had to succeed with big brother Oklahoma right next door, Texas right down the road a few hundred miles and Baylor and TCU rising up.

    The Coach The LSU Types Really Want Option Is …


    Jimbo Fisher, head coach, Florida State

    There are several massive problems with this. Just because LSU booster types say they want Jimbo, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Also, it’s not like Florida State is Florida Atlantic – this might be a lateral move if he chose to make it – and it’s not like he’s underpaid at about $5 million a year, and with more where that came from if push comes to shove. The former LSU offensive coordinator checks off all the boxes as a younger version of Miles in terms of recruiting ability, personality, and the right blend of hardass/glitch-fixer/backslapper needed to sidestep a few dozen landmines on a regular basis to handle the enormity of a program like LSU. But even though he might fit, and even though it really might be possible to pique Fisher’s interest and make this happen, there’s one other gigantic issue.

    USC. The real one.

    There’s beating your head against the wall in the SEC West, and there’s beating your head against the wall in the Pac-12 South.

    If Fisher really wants to leave a fantastic situation at Florida State, and if the money is the same, USC might be the bigger and better job, unless Alabama all of a sudden decides to realign with the Pac-12.

    The Roll The Dice On Greatness Option Is …


    Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama

    The one main concern is that he might need a year or two somewhere else before he’s truly ready for the big-time, but being Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator is like being Dave Grohl’s drummer – you need to be at a ridiculous level of competence to handle that gig for eight years. Georgia is going to at least take a look-see if Mark Richt is shown the door, and Florida State might be all over him if Jimbo takes off, but LSU is turn-key – there’s no excuse not to win the national championship next year. Smart is expected to be the Next Great Coach, but so was Will Muschamp.

    The Let’s Get Stupid Option Is …


    Chip Kelly, head coach, Philadelphia Eagles

    I’m the one telling everyone that no way, no how is Kelly an option any time soon, partly because the Eagles have way too much invested in him philosophically as well as financially. Even with Philly’s problems against Jameis and the Buccaneers on Sunday, it’s still deep in the hunt for a playoff spot in the miserable NFC East – the timing isn’t right. Even so, if this goes into the tank over the next month and the Eagles just look god-awful, and if something turns and the situation becomes truly toxic, then LSU will get in line to try throwing $6 million a year at the guy who went 46-7 with four Pac-12 titles in four years at Oregon.

    The Win A National Title In 2016 Option Might Just Be …


    Les Miles, head coach, LSU

    The Tigers are coming back loaded. Leonard Fournette is forced unfairly to play another year of college football, there’s only one starting senior on offense, the defense has replacements to fill the holes lost in the secondary, and the defensive front is going to be a brick wall. Throw in a quarterback in Brandon Harris going into his third year, a top three recruiting class to help restock the shelves, and a schedule that starts out against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field and has road games at Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Arkansas, but sees Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama come to Death Valley, and this is a good enough situation to give it one more shot. This will be a preseason top five team no matter what, but will Miles get the shot to coach it?

    He has earned the chance. Let’s see if he gets it.

    MORE: Les Miles Addresses LSU Job Rumors

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