Coaching searches are unpredictable processes in which schools often don’t land their first, second or even third choice.

That said, there are some basic tenets that are likely to guide LSU’s search to replace Les Miles after his firing Sunday:

1. The right kind of experience

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is all but certain to want to hire someone who is a head coach or has been one at some point. Luring a sitting head coach to LSU would add cache to the program after making what will be viewed as a controversial firing.

It would follow a longstanding precedent when making such hires. LSU’s past four coaches were sitting head coaches from other programs: Miles (Oklahoma State), Nick Saban (Michigan State), Gerry DiNardo (Vanderbilt) and Curley Hallman (Southern Miss). You have to go back nearly 30 years — to 1987, when LSU elevated defensive coordinator Mike Archer to replace the departing Bill Arnsparger — that LSU didn’t go the head coach route.

It takes someone who has been a head coach, Alleva is likely to reason, to understand what it takes to run a big, high-pressure program like LSU's. It’s not a guarantee, but if LSU’s next coach doesn’t have head coaching experience on his résumé, it’s because the school had to slide far down its wish list.

2. Money is no object

At least it better not be. LSU will owe Miles somewhere north of $8 million to satisfy his buyout — it could be $12.9 million, but this year’s salary is likely to count for part of that figure — and millions more for any assistants the new coach chooses not to retain.

Then there’s the buyout that the next coach is likely to have. Jimbo Fisher, LSU’s top target last season, reportedly would owe $5 million to Florida State if he leaves before December 2016. Bobby Petrino, who was LSU’s second choice when it hired Miles in 2005, would owe Louisville $10 million.

Then there’s the matter of salary. Fisher makes $5.15 million, Petrino $4.35 million (same as Miles) and Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss makes even more at $4.7 million per year. Staggering sums, but LSU would not be making this move without having the money to pay off Miles and the outgoing staff and pay the new coach handsomely. It’s not unthinkable that LSU’s next coach will start off at more than $5 million per year.

And think that, when LSU hired Saban in 1999, it paid him a then-unheard of $1.2 million. Outgoing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was contracted to make that much this season.

3. Making the move

There’s a big question as to whether Fisher, the former LSU offensive coordinator who still has a warm spot in his heart for Baton Rouge, would take LSU’s call after his name was dragged into the debacle to fire/not fire Miles last year.

Petrino has plenty of baggage from his Arkansas days, though for a coach who just smoked Fisher’s Seminoles 63-20 two weeks ago, past transgressions would likely be forgiven. Just don't expect that his courtesy car would be a motorcycle.

The top target is likely to be Herman, but that hardly makes LSU unique. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, even after beating LSU on Saturday to send Miles packing, is still on the hot seat at 2-2 himself. So is Texas coach Charlie Strong. And now there is growing talk that Southern California coach Clay Helton is in deep trouble after a 1-3 start to his first (only?) season.

Herman is making $3 million a year at Houston and stands to pocket a $5 million bonus if UH is invited to join the Big 12, which appears likely. He’d also probably pick up a nice raise. But the Cougars play in a 40,000-seat stadium. The gulf between the big-time nature of LSU and Houston remains considerable and could be appealing to Herman. (Side note: He played at tiny Cal Lutheran, of all places, with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.)

 

Art Briles, the disgraced Baylor coach who was mighty good at scoring points and gaining yards, could gain some traction. But he would be a tough sell to LSU’s administration considering Briles admitted he made mistakes in the handling of sexual assault allegations against some of his players.

Here's a rundown of potential candidates to replace Les Miles at LSU (listed alphabetically): 

Mark Dantonio

School, season: Michigan State head coach, ninth

Age; hometown: 60; El Paso, Texas

Salary: $4.3 million

Accomplishments: Won 11 or more games five of past six years; two Big Ten titles; trip to 2015 CFP semifinals

Previous work: Cincinnati, HC (2004-06); Ohio State, DC (2001-03); Michigan State, DB (1995-2000)

Larry Fedora

School, season: North Carolina head coach, fifth

Age; hometown: 54; College Station, Texas

Salary: $2 million (in 2015)

Accomplishments: Won 12 games in 2011 at Southern Miss and 10 in 2015 at UNC

Previous work: Southern Miss, HC (2008-11); Oklahoma State, OC (2005-07); Florida, OC/RB/WR (2004); Florida, RB/WR (2002-03)

Jimbo Fisher

School, season: Florida State head coach, seventh

Age; hometown: 50; Clarksburg, W.Va.

Salary (2015): $5.15 million

Accomplishments: Won last BCS national title (2013) and three ACC titles (2012-14)

Previous work: Florida State, OC (2007-09); LSU, OC (2000-06); Cincinnati, OC/QB (1999); Auburn, QB (1993-98)

Hugh Freeze

School, season: Ole Miss head coach; fifth

Age; hometown: 46; Oxford, Miss.

Salary: $4.7 million

Accomplishments: Has one more win each season than year before at Ole Miss; in January won first Sugar Bowl since 1970

Previous work: Arkansas State, HC (2011); Arkansas State, OC (2010); Lambuth, HC (2008-09); Ole Miss, TE/RC (2006-07)

Mike Gundy

School, season: Oklahoma State head coach, 12th

Age; hometown: 49; Midwest City, Okla.

Salary: $3.6 million

Accomplishments: Won at least 10 games four of past six years and claimed two division titles

Previous work: Oklahoma State, OC (2001-04); Maryland, QB/WR (1997-00); Baylor, QB (1996)

Tom Herman

School, season: Houston head coach; second

Age; hometown: 41; Cincinnati

Salary: $3 million

Accomplishments: Fourth coach in NCAA history with at least 13 wins his first season; 2015 Broyles Award winner as nation’s best assistant coach

Previous work: Ohio State, OC (2012-14); Iowa State, OC (2009-11); Rice, OC (2007-08); Texas State, OC (2005-06); Sam Houston State, WR (2001-04)

Timeline of Les Miles' memorable career as LSU head coach, from national title games to flirting with Michigan

Lane Kiffin

School, season: Alabama offensive coordinator, third

Age; hometown: 41; Lincoln, Neb.

Salary: $1.4 million

Accomplishments: Youngest head coach in NFL modern era (31) when hired by Oakland

Previous work: Southern California, HC (2010-13); Tennessee, HC (2009); Oakland Raiders, HC (2007-08); Southern Cal assistant/OC (2001-06); Jacksonville Jaguars defensive quality control (2000); Colorado State OL (1999)

 

Dan Mullen

School, season: Mississippi State head coach, eighth

Age; hometown: 44; Drexel Hill, Pa.

Salary: $4 million

Accomplishments: Has qualified State for six straight bowls and won 10 games in 2014

Previous work: Florida, OC/QB (2005-08); Utah, OC (2003-04); Bowling Green (2001-02, QB)

Ed Orgeron

School, season: LSU interim head coach, second

Age; hometown: 55; Larose

Salary: $600,000

Accomplishments: Named national recruiter of the year in 2011 by Scout.com; played himself in the movie “The Blind Side”

Previous work: Southern California, defensive assistant (2010-12, 1998-2004, interim HC (2013); Tennessee, DL (2009); New Orleans Saints, DE (2008); Ole Miss, HC (2005-07); Syracuse, DL (1995-97); Nicholls State, LB (1994)

Bobby Petrino

School, season: Louisville head coach, third (seventh overall)

Age; hometown: 55; Lewistown, Mont.

Salary: $4.35 million

Accomplishments: Three career AP top-10 finishes, with team currently at No. 3; winningest coach ever at Louisville (62-18)

Previous work: Western Kentucky, HC (2013); Arkansas, HC (2008-11); Atlanta Falcons, HC (2007); Louisville, HC (2003-06); Auburn, OC (2002)

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​