Sounds like NFL execs are eager to scoop up the Mad Hatter. I just hope Miles learned from Nick Sabin’s venture into the pro game that sometimes the grass is not greener.
NFL owners and general managers over the past few years have always been intrigued by LSU coach Les Miles, but something about Miles always made them hesitant: They thought he was a goofball.
The wacky, Mad Hatter rep made some NFL executives who considered hiring him nervous, I’m told. They weren’t certain if he had the maturity to be an NFL head coach, so in the end, they stayed away.
That is changing drastically. After interviews with several team executives, it has become clear Miles has vaulted near the top of some lists as the next hottest NFL coaching candidate.
To be sure, there are still skeptics uncertain what to make of him, but that number is decreasing. Most now see Miles as someone who can lead an NFL franchise and will definitely be pursued by teams in need of a head coach at the end of the season.
“He’s the most intriguing coaching prospect I’ve seen in a long time,” said one team executive. “I think he has a great deal of talent and can deal with the modern athlete.”
And that is what I’ve heard repeatedly about Miles from team executives. Their belief is that Miles is, as one told me, the next Jimmy Johnson in terms of knowing how to coach the 21st-century player. Take that comparison as you like, but to me there’s no bigger compliment since Johnson deftly handled a Cowboys locker room full of gigantic egos.
League executives also seem to be impressed with Miles’ ability to build and maintain a top-level program. While the challenges and differences between professional and college are obvious — the salary cap being the biggest — Miles has made LSU into a staying power in the toughest conference in the country.
His weird play calls and unusual use of the English language — not quite Bobby Bowden-like but in the same universe — were once used against him, but are now being ignored. Winning will do that. There’s also the fact he has NFL experience spending two years as tight ends coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
An LSU spokesman initially said Miles would speak with me. He even suggested a day. Then, communication ceased. My guess: The university wasn’t going to help promote the fact that Miles had drawn extensive NFL interest.
Can’t blame them. But I think they’re fighting the inevitable. I think it’s only a matter of time before Miles is gone to the pros.
By Mike Freeman