Take the job, Les.
If Michigan, your alma mater comes calling, if it says it needs Les Miles to rescue its once proud and now sputtering football tradition, you should accept.
You both wanted it to work in 2007, but the timing became lousy thanks to that Saturday morning splash report (to spin off a Sean Payton phrase) by Kirk Herbstreit right before the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
There was interest in 2010, but you didn’t want them to offer and they didn’t want to be turned down.
But the third time should be the charm. And it could be the last time. At 61, your coaching clock is ticking. And if Michigan goes with someone else, there’s no guarantee your dream job won’t come open again until you’re Lee Corso’s age.
Now, don’t go back to Ann Arbor if the money is mediocre. You’re making $4.3 million per year at LSU and the just jettisoned Brady Hoke was making a “paltry” $2.8 million. If Michigan can’t offer you something in your current tax bracket, then politely decline. As a man holding a degree in economics from Michigan, you know anything less than $4 million a year would be a bad deal.
No need to be insulted.
But going back to Michigan wouldn’t be about money, Les. We all know that. It’s about emotion. It’s about old school ties, the place and the program you loved so much. The place where you met your wife, Kathy, when you were both young assistant coaches.
It’s the place your heart never truly left. We know that. The world saw you tweeted “Geaux Blue!!” before Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State game.
Sorry, Les. Just call ’em “Ohio,” right?
Now I don’t know if the sun has set on Michigan’s time as a national power. The past two coaches, Rich Rodriguez (now Pac-12 coach of the year at Arizona) and Hoke have both failed.
But your hated archrival Buckeyes are in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday against Wisconsin. Your second most-hated rival, Michigan State, won the Big Ten and finished No. 3 in the final polls last season.
If they can do it, Michigan certainly still can.
With the right man in charge.
And here is the biggest reason to go Les: At LSU, you’re 103-28 in 10 seasons with a national championship and two Southeastern Conference titles, having played for one more of each. Your team has been in a bowl every year and finished unranked just once.
Are you widely regarded as a top-notch coach in your backyard? No. They talk about your hat, your sentence structure, your conservative offense, your lack of being Nick Saban in general.
To say you have been under appreciated is an understatement.
Go to Michigan for 10 years (Steve Spurrier’s says he’ll coach next year at 70 so you can make it to 71) and give them 100 wins, a national title and two Big Ten championships and they won’t talk about your headgear or your syntax.
They’ll just call you a hero. They’ll ask which side of Michigan Stadium you want your statue to be placed.
OK, it’s Michigan so it may be an ice sculpture, but you get the point.
A huge segment of the LSU fan base has never accepted you, Les. They just haven’t. Going back to your very first loss to Tennessee in 2005, many Tigers fans decided you weren’t their man. That you couldn’t cut it. That if you won, it was simply winning with Saban’s players. I think some of them still think there are Saban recruits lurking on the roster.
It’s tough being the man following the man, isn’t it? Just ask Smoke Laval about following Skip Bertman, Ron Zook about following Spurrier at Florida, or flash forward to ask the guy who has to follow Saban at Alabama.
That wouldn’t be your problem at Michigan. Your mentor, Bo Schembechler, retired 25 years ago. Rich Rod and Hoke have come and gone since Lloyd Carr retired in 2007.
One big question mark at Michigan, of course, is who would the athletic director be. Dave Brandon tendered his resignation before Hoke got shown the door.
But maybe not such a big question, right? The interim athletic director, the man doing the hiring, is Jim Hackett. He was your teammate at Michigan from 1973-75, a fellow offensive lineman.
And if this fellow gets this hire right, or at least makes a hire the Michigan higher-ups like, he’s likely to be the athletic director full time. A Michigan man like yourself. A peer.
There’s also a lot of talk about how Baton Rouge has become the home for your family, that three of your four kids are still in school and that’s true. It would be tough to uproot them.
But oldest daughter, Smacker, is already in college at Texas. Oldest son, Manny, is a senior at University High and considering going to college at … that maize and blue colored place you love.
Ben and Macy are still in school, but what you know and that few people outside the coaching profession realize, Les, is the profession is the true home of every coach. And coaching families make sacrifices — especially for the right reasons.
Look, maybe Jim Harbaugh will take the job first. Maybe, as we’ve heard, they can’t reach enough of a consensus on you at Michigan to make you an offer.
But you’ve been here 10 years, Les. And what if the critics are right? What if your 28-11 record dating to the 2012 BCS title game is a trend? The SEC, particularly the West, isn’t getting easier.
Someone once said coaching 10 years in one place is just about long enough before you start wearing out your welcome.
Maybe a fresh start would be best. One last challenge.
That’s why if they offer you the job at Michigan, Les, you should take it.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.