For the last several years people close to the Michigan football program have been puzzled to hear reports that LSU Coach Les Miles was next in line to lead the Wolverines.
There was only one problem- the rumors all seemed to originate from outside Ann Arbor. Anyone who follows Michigan Athletics knows that things don’t work that way in here. If Les Miles was at the top of Athletic Director Bill Martin’s football coaching wish list we certainly wouldn’t be reading about it in the newspapers.
Whenever I tried to get people to talk about the possibility of Les Miles coming at Ann Arbor I heard the same thing. People close to the program believed that rumors were leaked from the Les Miles camp as a negotiating ploy to shake more dollars out of LSU. The thinking was that if Les was seriously interested he should know that leaking rumors to media on an annual basis wasn’t the way to get the job. He created some additional ill will by not voting Michigan #2 in the coaches poll last season and giving the Wolverines a chance for revenge against the Buckeyes.
The rumors reached a crescendo after the bitter disappointment of this season. When Lloyd Carr announced his retirement a few weeks ago many Wolverine fans and media members were insisting Les Miles was the best candidate to succeed him.
And for an hour or so it appeared that Les was on his way to Ann Arbor. And then a funny thing happened. Les did exactly what my sources said he had been doing for years.
He leveraged Michigan’s now authentic interest in him to shake a boatload of cash out of LSU.
And he turned his back on “his dream” of returning to his alma mater.
The elephant in the room
It’s no big secret that Lloyd Carr isn’t exactly a fan of Les Miles. Nobody has ever gone on the record with exactly why they don’t get along. What we do know is that Les Miles left Ann Arbor after Lloyd become head coach. Why aren’t two Michigan Men, two of Bo’s Boys, on better terms? Well, that’s the big question right now. I do think Lloyd Carr is a pretty judge of character and if he’s not a Les Miles fan that is enough for me.
Les Miles- Our last hope? No, there is another and another after that…
I’m not going to campaign for my choice as the next coach of the Wolverines (cough, cough, Brian Kelly). I am going to say that there are a number of coaches who have the skills to succeed at Michigan. People you have heard of and probably a few people you haven’t.
What we need
Make no mistake- the next head coach here has some big shoes to fill. Every day he’ll go to work in a building named after Bo Schembechler. And the last guy to win a National Championship (Lloyd Carr) will also still be hanging around. When the season starts he’ll lead his team down the tunnel and play in front of the largest crowd to watch a football game in America.
At Michigan the head football coach needs to be more than a great tactician. He needs to be the spiritual leader of the Wolverine nation, a pillar of the community, and the caretaker of the winningest tradition in the history of collegiate football. He also needs to subvert his ego to the concept of THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM.
The scrutiny is intense. And not everyone is up to the challenge.
What Michigan needs is the *RIGHT* coach- not the popular guy, or the trendy guy. We need a coach who hungers to write his own pages in the great Michigan tradition.
We need a man whose dreams are as great as Michigan Wolverine football.
Not someone who would sell his “dream” for few dollars more.
That guy belongs down in Louisiana- we have higher standards here.