April 21, 2014

Elyria
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College football: Les Miles says he’s staying at LSU

ATLANTA – Les Miles insists he will remain LSU`s football coach despite all the speculation he would bolt for Michigan.
“I am the head coach at LSU. I will be the head coach at LSU,” Miles, an Elyria High graduate and Elyria Sports Hall of Fame member, said Saturday. “I have no interest in talking to anybody else.”
LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said he later asked Miles whether the coach`s statement applied to Michigan. Vincent said Miles told him it did – he was not going to Michigan.
LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said Miles and LSU chancellor Sean O`Keefe already have worked out a contract “they`re happy with,” but it has not yet been signed.
Wearing a purple tie, standing and gesturing, Miles angrily made his announcement two hours before the No. 5 Tigers defeated No. 14 Tennessee 21-14 in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
“I`ve got a championship game to play, and I`m excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play,” he said. “It`s unfortunate that I had to address my team with that information this morning.”
Miles said an erroneous ESPN report that he was going to Michigan prompted him to speak to his players and the media.
“I represent me in this issue, please ask me after. I`m busy,” he said.
In an offseason that has seen several big moves, Miles did not want to jump on the coaching carousel.
All week, speculation swirled that Miles would leave LSU and return to Michigan, where he played and coached. The Wolverines` job became vacant when Lloyd Carr announced his retirement.
Miles was questioned about Michigan during his news conference Friday at the Georgia Dome. He had said he planned to talk to Wolverines officials after the SEC game.
Instead, Miles tried to return LSU`s focus to the team, which has an outside chance to reach the BCS national championship game.
The Tigers are 11-2. Still to be decided is the status of LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, with Nebraska interested in making him its head coach.
Many had expected Miles to return to Michigan, where he played and coached for the late, great Bo Schembechler and met his wife, long before Lloyd Carr announced the bowl game would end his 13-year career as head coach.
LSU saw the possibility coming, too.
The school put a specific clause in his contract on July 1, 2006, that made it expensive for Miles to go back to Ann Arbor.
In the “termination by coach” section of his deal, Michigan is the only school mentioned. It stated that Miles will not seek or accept employment as Michigan`s coach and that he would pay LSU $1.25 million if he left to lead the Wolverines.
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin has said he is looking for the next Carr, who led the Wolverines to the 1997 national championship and five Big Ten titles while keeping the school above even suspicions about NCAA violations.
Martin has said he had 20 candidates in mind, and now he`ll need them. Possible choices might include Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, California coach Jeff Tedford, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly.
LSU hired Miles away from Oklahoma State after Nick Saban departed in 2005 to coach the Miami Dolphins.
Miles was in a position to land the coveted job after turning around Oklahoma State`s program, earning three straight bowl bids after the school went 12 years without a postseason appearance. He was 28-21 in four years with the Cowboys and was the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2002.
Saban set a new standard for the Tigers when he led them to a national championship, putting Miles under instant pressure to win big.
Fortunately for Miles, Saban also left behind a roster loaded with talent, including four players that were taken in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft.
Miles went 11-2 during each of his first two seasons, finishing his first with a lopsided Peach Bowl victory over Miami and his second with a blowout against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
AP sportswriters Brett Martel in New Orleans and Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.