Miles, Mullen made the right decisions to stay put

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sometimes the best play is none at all.

LSU coach Les Miles made the right decision on Tuesday when he decided to stay in Baton Rouge, spurning Michigan, which he once called his dream job.

The reasons are multifold. Louisiana high school football is much stronger than Michigan’s. Miles can drive 100 miles in any direction from Baton Rouge and find future NFL first-round draft picks in abundance. LSU has proved itself a championship football program with two BCS titles and is now one of college football’s elite. Michigan? Not so much.

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Even though he gets a ton of grousing for his bizarre clock management fiascoes, like the one last season against Tennessee, he still wins 10 games a year and keeps the Tigers in the hunt for a national title. Which is all you can really ask considering how tough the SEC is these days.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen did the same earlier this season. When Miami and Florida were interested, he decided to play the next hand and stayed in Starkville.

Miami would’ve been a horrible fit. The personnel, recruited for a pro-style scheme, do not fit Mullen’s spread offense, the facilities are laughable, fan support is abysmal and the team doesn’t even have its own stadium.

Even though the area is still a hotbed for recruiting, Mullen, like Miles had he gone to Michigan, would’ve been set up to fail.

While Florida would’ve been a better situation, the pressure there to win titles every season, is intense. Mullen can win eight or nine games a season, a fireable offense in Gainesville, and be the toast of Starkville. If he wins an SEC title, the school would consider naming the stadium after him and possibly erect a statue.

Too often, coaches are ready to make a leap to a higher salary and greater level of commitment without making sure that the job is a good fit for them. Just like the recruits they entertain, a coach visiting a perspective employer for an interview can be caught up in the hype and not think clearly.

And a great example is clad in maize and blue.

Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was never a good fit in the Big House, despite being raved as a great hire at the time. His unconventional spread option offense rankled many Michigan football fans and resulted in a huge purge of talent, like Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, before Rodriguez coached his first spring practice. His ugly divorce from his alma mater, NCAA probation for too much practice time (apparently it didn’t pay off) and inability to beat any of the Wolverines’ rivals proved his undoing.

He’d have served himself much better by staying put at West Virginia, which will be undergoing a coaching change next season as Bill Stewart was forced to add his replacement, Dana Holgorsen, to his staff as a “head coach in waiting.” Staff meetings next year should be a bag of laughs.

So while Gen. George Patton wouldn’t like this approach too much, holding one’s position in this regard is entirely logical.

Even if it doesn’t mean a change of address or a bigger bank balance.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at