Les Miles already has a job better than Michigan
LSU is one of the country’s best coaching gigs, for one simple reason.
Should LSU head coach Les Miles leave to take over at his alma mater, if offered? That ESPN SportsNation poll above doesn’t seem to think so! And its voters aren’t wrong.
Miles says his agent hasn’t even been in touch with the Wolverines. And we’ve been through this Miles thing before. And it certainly seems the school is focused on Jim Harbaugh anyway. But if Miles were to leave for Michigan, there’s a strong case to be made that he’d be taking a lesser job.
But Michigan has a longer football history, makes more money, and is one of the world’s best universities. And winning the Big Ten East should be easier than winning the SEC West. How could LSU be better?
The answer is recruiting. Louisiana is one of the country’s most talent-dense states, and LSU is the state’s only power-conference team. That gives Miles’ Tigers maybe the country’s most automatic base of elite talent.
From 2009 to 2013, here were how many of each state’s top 25 recruits each of these schools signed (and these numbers were calculated before the Tigers landed No. 1 national recruit Leonard Fournette and seven other blue-chips from Louisiana in 2014):
|Virginia Tech||8.8||Michigan State||6.6|
Under Miles’ staff, LSU signs about half of a single elite state’s 25 best prospects every year. No other program can claim that.
Not only does Michigan produce far less talent than Louisiana does, the Wolverines also have to battle the rising Michigan State Spartans for the best of their state.
Other factors include LSU having the advantage of the SEC brand, playing in a division whose winner will often be the Playoff favorite, being so near the recruiting gold mine that is Texas (Michigan can easily access Ohio, which is loaded, but nowhere near Texas), and being willing to spend a ton of money on assistant coaches, unlike most in the Big Ten.
These things change, of course. It would’ve been much harder to make this case in the ’90s, before LSU started taking full advantage of its state and when the Wolverines shared a national title.
But if Miles were to end up leaving for Michigan, it would be because he’s at heart a Bo Schembechler man. It wouldn’t be because he’ll have a better chance of building a championship-grade team in Ann Arbor.