The big news Tuesday was that Arkansas reportedly made a lucrative offer to Les Miles to be the head coach of the Hogs.
Wednesday afternoon, an hour later than scheduled, the next wave of big news to flood TigerTown was that LSU will retain Miles, who is set to receive an additional two-year contract extension and an undisclosed raise.
It seems pretty clear that Tuesday's headline directly led to Wednesday's, even if LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva hinted otherwise at the press conference this afternoon, held at the LSU football operations building.
"There's been a lot of speculation out there about other schools and all that, and I want to assure you – I know you're not going to believe me – that it really has nothing to do with that," explained Alleva. "It has been my plan all along to give coach a raise and an extension, and that's what we're doing."
In an official statement released by the university prior to the press conference, Alleva did acknowledge that the outside noise may have sped up the process of getting those things for Miles, who just finished his eighth season leading the Tigers.
"Our intent was to address his contract following this year's bowl game, but speculation about other job opportunities accelerated our process a little," Alleva said. "I think we have accomplished the important step of securing Les Miles as our head coach for the long-term good of the program."
Here are my initial thoughts on what transpired with Miles today and what it means for him, LSU and Arkansas. I'll address this read-and-react style, citing quotes from both Alleva and Miles from today.
Miles' contract will take him through the 2019 season at LSU.
Longevity. It's what every coach is looking for in today's world, today's economy and, probably harshest of all, today's coaching climate in major college football. More guaranteed years squashes the possibility of getting fired over a not-as-stellar season. It also helps lend certainty and credence to a coach telling recruiting prospects he'll be around for awhile.
Miles gained seemingly all the length and rope he'd need back in January 2011, when he received an extension through 2017. Now, the 59-year-old Miles has two more years guaranteed him. Considering he'll be 66 at the time this new contract expires, it's safe to say this will be the last job Les Miles ever has.
Said Alleva Wednesday: "Les Miles has made a commitment to LSU and LSU is solidifying its commitment to Les Miles."
Miles: "We've done some special things here. It's nice that the administration – Joe Alleva, Chancellor [William] Jenkins – recognize that and say ‘Coach, we want you to be here.' Seven years is a long tenure. I am fortunate to have that commitment from a great school and great institution as LSU."
Miles will almost certainly be making at least $4.25 million a year.
The terms, as far as value, of Miles' new contract have not been released and, even once they are, they are still pending approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
But here's what we do know. Miles was making $3.751 million a year. The reported offer from Arkansas, one Miles refuted Wednesday, would've had Miles coming in at about $5.5 million a year. The new number from LSU will be somewhere in the middle.
Outside of that, we're not dealing with much in the way of fact right now.
Logic tells you that any raise Miles and agent George Bass would accept would have to be for at least $500,000 a year. It would appear safe to speculate then that Miles' new annual salary is at least $4.25 million a year, with $4.5 million probably being at the high end of where LSU would be able to go.
Miles on the reported Arkansas offer: "The view of five years and $27 million is not true. I can tell you that I very much respect those Razorbacks and how they played in that last game, but I'm an LSU head coach and will be an LSU head coach for as long as I can be."
LSU will now being paying Miles "market value."
And Alleva really never had a choice. In much the same way Alleva himself gamed money from the LSU machine by having his name involved in the Tennessee vacancy months ago, Miles did the same to Alleva and the LSU brass this week with Arkansas. It's not dirty. It's not cheap. Neither man created the situation or approached the other institution. It's the business world in which college football plays today.
But, with all that said, don't forget about the respect a guy like Miles and all coaches at his level intend to command. Sometimes that comes in the form of longevity (Miles secured some in 2011, more today). Other times that comes in the form of pay and where that ranks amongst colleagues.
Before today began, Miles was making about $1.75 million dollars a year less than Alabama coach Nick Saban, who's listed at about $5.5 million annually. Certainly Miles doesn't feel his performance and his programs are incrementally that far behind Saban's and the Tide's.
Today he took a step toward narrowing that gap and getting what he felt is owed to him.
"It's embarrassing to me to have to talk about money, so I don't," Miles said. "I can tell you that I'm just thankful and fortunate to have an occupation that pays tremendous market value."
Those last four words were no accident from Miles. I never like to read too far into any individual quotes, but I assure you one of Miles' (and Bass') biggest intentions in all this was to get closer to what they thought market value was for LSU's coach.
Cue Alleva: "The coaching business is a competitive one and it is important to compensate our coach for his accomplishments and his worth. Les has not received a pay increase since his salary was automatically elevated following our national championship in 2007, and he has continued to keep LSU on the national stage."
Miles-to-Arkansas never came close to happening, but contact was there.
LSU's head man even admitted today that he was in touch with Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long, a friend of Miles who also shares University of Michigan roots, just in more of an advisory capacity.
"The Arkansas issue was a sincere one, and there was a colleague of mine over the years, a friend of mine over the years, who is the athletic director there," explained Miles. "So I have great respect for how he conducts business.
"Our conversations were very preliminary and fell short of any major, major interest. I kind of recommended other candidates."
Miles went on to add there was never a point in their conversations in which he was presented with a "yes or no" option.
So, basically, when broken down, this very public dance between the two was a way to get Miles paid (as detailed earlier) and probably some other perks while also setting the nation on notice that Arkansas is willing to go all-in for a big-name, top-dollar head coach.
For those two parties – Les and the Razorbacks – the Miles-to-Arkansas thread couldn't have come at a better time. Miles, before even learning of his team's bowl future, reaped his rewards today. Arkansas, which will not be playing in a bowl game but would like to find a new coach soon, will do the same when it reels in a big fish in the upcoming days or weeks.
Call it a hunch, but I think there's someone out there who will scrounge by for more than $5 million a year.
Read and React: Miles extension, raise
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