Les Miles isn't giving up yet.
The former LSU head coach has resigned himself to this fact: He won't be a head coach next season for the first time since 2000. But he's not ready to retire any time soon.
"For me not to be able to step to the field and show a young man, ‘This is how we do it' ... To move on from there, I can’t imagine (at) this point," he said. "Maybe at another time – maybe. Not at this time. I’m a coach."
Miles addressed reporters for more than 10 minutes Friday morning in an impromptu gathering that followed safety Jamal Adams' news conference from the LSU administration building. Adams announced his plans to bypass his senior season and go pro.
Miles, invited to attend the news conference by Adams, held court with two dozen media members, his first group interview session since his firing on Sept. 25.
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Miles spent the last six weeks traveling the nation interviewing for head coaching jobs. The 63-year-old has been unable to land any of them, including the most recent opening at Minnesota. The Gophers hired P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan.
Miles didn't confirm he interviewed at Minnesota but said his most recent head coaching interview was "oh about 48 hours ago or so."
"Well, it’s something I want to do," he said of coaching. "You want an athletic director and president that want you. If they don’t want you, you’re good. OK? The good news is, I’ve seen some great places and know more what to look for. No, I’m not disappointed."
Miles will be in Tampa on Monday for the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. He plans to make several media stops, including ESPN's morning radio show, Mike & Mike, he said.
He's not sure if he'll join a network full time this year as an analyst, but he hopes to return to the sidelines next season.
"I want to win championships," he said. "It’s pretty simple."
Let’s talk about Jamal Adams.
In recruiting, he came in, him and his family and it was … they really enjoyed LSU. They wanted DBU, wanted the greatest challenge and, really, (he) was not difficult to recruit. He sought and wanted it.
When he came on campus, he had so much energy and he was a guy who played a position that you must communicate with. He did a great job. He was constantly chattering in the backfield there. It made a difference to our secondary. When he was in the game, there were less busts. His view of the secondary and his comments were exactly right. He had so much energy. He brought every practice up several notches.
He invited you here. Tell us about that.
I obviously know these guys. They have my number. They said they’re making an announcement. ‘Would you please come.’ I said, ‘Absolutely. No question.’
Was it strange walking into the building?
No. Strange is not the word. I enjoy the people in this building and I … every time I go by a door, somebody (is there) I’m pleased to see and embrace. I had a great time.
Will you be in the media soon enough?
I have no idea. We’ll have to see how it goes forward. We’ll make that decision in the future.
How do you describe the last couple of months for yourself, going around interviewing for jobs?
I met some really nice people, saw some great schools. But I got to spend more time with my family than I have. I’ve enjoyed that as well.
Is it disappointing you might not be on a football field next season?
Well, it’s something I want to do. You want an athletic director and president that want you. If they don’t want you, you’re good. OK? The good news is, I’ve seen some great places and know more what to look for. No, I’m not disappointed.
Is the prospect of coaching any place else strange?
I probably had as much fun as anything when I was at Colorado watching Bill McCartney orchestrate a build. After that, I went to Oklahoma State, fortunate to be with some assistant coaches and players who wanted to win for the first time. Had good fortune to beat OU.
And then we took the next step. I think it’s always, more of the relationship with the players and to increase the wins and win championships. I think you can do that a lot of places.
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How much pride do you feel when you see guys like Jamal go to the NFL?
When the Tigers play, I am courtside and I am watching. They played awfully hard this year and I’m really proud of them. Watching Jamal, the group of Tigers playing in the NFL, pretty good group now. We expect he’d fit right in.
When he got here, there was buzz out of workouts about Jamal right?
He had so much energy. He competed at everything he did, and George, his dad’s challenge to him … he let everybody know. In other words, his father didn’t say, ‘I was a first round draft pick.’ No, but what he said is … he challenged him to do better and that’s really what he’s always done. He’s improved from Day 1 to Day 2 and right on through.
How telling is it that Jamal’s favorite play was throwing a block? (in a punt return against Kentucky)
We showed that play repeatedly because it was a blindside block that could easily have been a penalty. Had he decided to take him out, they could have called a defensiveless player and a 15-yard penalty, but, instead, he was below and in the numbers and really above the hip. It was a great block. We used it as an example of what to do in those situation.
That would be his first big-time play. That was a big play obviously.
Of all the plays Jamal Adams could have chosen as his best in three years at LSU, he chose a block, of course.
Is there a moment that sticks out about Jamal?
He steps into the secondary and he’s talking about everything. He wants to see where the 3-technique is lined up. He wants to know … he’s communicating all of the time. And then he starts jumping. He just has too much energy. And the rest of the secondary starts jumping. Now, we just have a defensive unit that’s coming off the ground between plays. That was Jamal Adams. Jamal Adams has great energy and is a great leader.
What’s it like when you go into these interviews and don’t get the jobs?
The experience you had in 17 years… you can’t put it in a two-hour interview, and it’s impossible to try. What you do is you do the best you can to display these great number of experiences you had. And you want to see how they respond. It’s important that it’s a great fit. If they don’t want an experienced coach and a guy that’s been through a number of situations, I understand, and I’m for them.
Are you willing to look at Group of 5 level jobs?
I want you to know, there are a number of great jobs out there and I’m not limiting myself, but I do want the opportunity to build and stay their some time. And I want to win championships. It’s pretty simple.
Could you see yourself joining the media and staying there?
I think it would be a challenge there, something I would enjoy, being close to the game, but I’m a coach. I have so much experience at the things that I have done that it would be hard for me to put those down.
For me not to be able to step to the field and show a young man, ‘This is how we do it.’ To move on from there, I can’t imagine from this point. Maybe at another time – maybe. Not at this time. I’m a coach.
Who are you rooting for in the national championship game?
I am rooting for a great game. I want that game to be … I want the players on both teams to play their best and come away with no regrets. I think that would be what this country would want and what each of the coaches lining up in that game would want. ‘Play your best. We’ll worry about the score later.’
You won’t be wearing red though right?
I have to tell you, I have most recently worn a red tie. I have a rash underneath here (points to chest) that I’m learning how to handle.