Les Miles remains the coach at LSU, and he said Monday he intends to conduct business as usual as the Tigers prepare for Texas A&M in the final game of the regular season.
That said, there has been plenty of speculation about the future of the LSU program, and much of it does not involve Miles as the coach in 2016. Three weeks ago, Miles was the coach of the No. 2 team in the country, fielded the Heisman Trophy favorite (who is still only a sophomore) and had the No. 1-rated recruiting class for 2016, according to 247sports.
If Miles is no longer at LSU, whether it is next week or next month, there are likely to be plenty of suitors for one of college football’s most successful active coaches. Miles said Monday he has not considered retirement, which contradicts a report from last week that said he offered to retire after the 2016 season in a meeting with school officials.
MORE ON MILES: Report indicates that a decision on the LSU coach’s future is imminent
Miles has won 110 games in 11 seasons at LSU. He has the highest winning percentage in program history. He won a national title in 2007 and was a runner-up in 2011. He’s clearly still able to recruit at a high level. And at 62 years old, he’s probably not interested in a job that will involve a lengthy rebuilding process.
So, if he leaves LSU, where are some possible landing places for The Mad Hatter?
1. Virginia Tech
Miles replaced someone with similar football philosophies when he moved into Nick Saban’s old office at LSU, and this would be a similar move. Frank Beamer built one of the best programs in the nation almost from scratch, and he did it with strong defense, special teams and an underrated assembly line of productive college running backs.
Does Virginia Tech want to go younger and find someone with a more modern offense? Perhaps, but Miles could agree to add an offensive coordinator like Alabama’s Lane Kiffin or Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley at his next destination. Miles could help the Hokies ensure they don’t take a step back with a lesser-known quantity.
2. Miami Dolphins
The last time the Dolphins looked to Baton Rouge for a new coach led to mixed results. Saban returned to college after two years, and the reviews of his time in Miami remain mixed. Miles doesn’t seem like someone who is looking to bounce around before he calls it a career.
Miami has a strong defense, but the offense has been erratic. The Dolphins could use a stable leader after replacing Joe Philbin with interim coach Dan Campbell, and Miles would be plenty happy to get the ball in ex-LSU star Jarvis Landry’s hands as often as possible.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Chip Kelly has been pretty successful with the Eagles, but his team looks pretty average this year and three seasons without a playoff victory could spell the end of his tenure. Given the Eagles’ personnel (which Kelly had a large say in acquiring), Miles could be a good fit.
DeMarco Murray has struggled in Kelly’s spread system, but he and Ryan Mathews could be a potent one-two punch if Miles returned the Eagles to a more traditional NFL look. Miles would probably be comfortable in the NFC East spotlight after 11 years in the SEC.
4. South Carolina
Of the other NCAA jobs currently available, South Carolina probably makes the most sense for Miles. The last two hires in Columbia, S.C., have been Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier, so he could keep the national title-winning coach tradition alive.
He’d have better resources and a better recruiting area than Missouri or Maryland, while Southern Cal and Miami are likely to look elsewhere (though Miles would not be a bad choice for the Hurricanes if they decide to look outside “The U” family). What he wouldn’t have is a roster ready to win, which could be a deterrent.
Miles is a media favorite, and finishing his career in a broadcasting booth or studio might be an option. Working fewer hours and having less stress while still being around the game is an intriguing option some longtime coaches end up enjoying.
He could also spend a year in broadcasting and wait for the right coaching fit if he doesn’t find one to his liking this offseason.
That’s assuming he’s not chewing on the grass on Saturday nights at Tiger Stadium in 2016.