Michigan at heart, but LSU is home

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OK, are we really going to play this game again?

Surely by now you’ve heard. The word is out. It was hardly a big surprise.

Michigan was a little sluggish in doing the deed, but the Big Blue head football coaching job officially came open Tuesday when interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett fired Beleaguered Brady Hoke.

10-9-8-7-6 …

So you know where the nation turns its lonely eyes — LSU’s Les Miles, the full-blooded and unapologetic “Michigan Man.”

Really, though, this is getting kind of old.

The very vocal (and clueless) LSU minority who want Miles gone will only get their hopes up again that this time it might really happen.

The cooler heads who will prevail at LSU probably won’t even have to up the ante again for a raise this time, but it will still be a bit of a hassle.

It’s become a knee-jerk reaction in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Fire the coach, look toward Miles and harass LSU for a couple of weeks.

Some of the usual hijinks are already in play, with the usual suspects on social media reading tea leaves for clues that only they see.

As recently as Saturday, for instance, having done his football chores for the week, Miles was caught blatantly tweeting “Geaux Blue!!…. Beat em in the Horseshoe!” an apparent reference to Michigan’s lost-cause grudge match at Ohio State.

This has been interpreted by some that he’s ready to go home to Michigan. Never mind that he tweets something similar most every year before UM plays the Buckeyes and has never denied that his alma mater will always hold a special place in his heart.

Speaking of which, why doesn’t Kent State pester Nick Saban every time it has an opening?

But there is reportedly a rift in Michigan this time, a split among the higher-ups about whether to pursue the Miles matter a third time.

Michigan is a proud place, full of history and tradition, and at some point its gets embarrassing when the pretty girl keeps turning you down.

The first time, 2007, was high entertainment and worth every second of the single-most entertaining “pregame” news conference ever hastily arranged in the Georgia Dome.

That was right before LSU took the field to beat Tennessee en route to the BCS national title game, and the merriment ended with the famous “My damn strong football team” quote.

Oh, and “Have a great day!”

Pure Miles. Wonderful theater.

The second time, after the 2010 season, the whole thing was a little more awkward and probably cheapened both sides of the courtship.

It was obvious Miles wasn’t going anywhere and it was also obvious that LSU was already in the process of redoing his contract. All Michigan (and Miles’ silence on the matter) did was speed up the process a little bit.

I can give you a lot of reasons Miles will not heed the call, even on the odd chance that the call is made.

He’s 61 years old now. Whether some fans like it or not, he’s well entrenched in Baton Rouge.

He has a well-established program that, if it can get one position worked out, should be primed for contention for the playoff talk next season.

Michigan reportedly isn’t totally bereft of talent — apparently Hoke recruited better than he coached — but it’s certainly not that ready-stuffed cupboard that he inherited and enhanced at LSU.

Michigan may forever be Miles’ home place, but he’s nothing if not a family man. Three of his four very active kids are still in grade school.

To them, Baton Rouge is home.

To them, Michigan is nothing more than dad’s musty old jersey in the closet.

This time Hackett went as far as to say Tuesday that “I want to get rid of term ‘Michigan Man,’” even though eradicating it would presumably take him out of consideration to have the term “interim” removed from his own title.

Hackett, like Miles, is a former Michigan offensive lineman.

So it was a little confusing when Hackett added that he wanted to eventually hire somebody who already understands what Michigan is all about and wouldn’t need to be brought up to speed.

So would that put Miles back on the radar?

The Wolverines’ search committee might say that he already “speaks the language” at Michigan, which I seriously doubt.

Nobody has ever figured out what, exactly, that language is that Miles is forever disjointing and coagulating.

If they ever do, a Rosetta Stone Les Miles edition would be a hot stocking stuffer in Louisiana.

But if that language he speaks really is Michigan, maybe that explains a lot. Maybe that explains why nobody has been able to communicate enough victories up there lately.

It’s an acquired taste, to be sure.

If, as I suspect, it’s a twisted tongue delightfully unique to Miles and Miles only, then Michigan should forget him.

Yeah, he’s a Michigan Man all right. But he’s been away for a while. It will take them years, possibly cost millions of dollars and untold lives, to even begin deciphering him.

It has taken Louisiana, which is no stranger to odd dialect, the better part of a decade and he still doesn’t always make sense.

But I’m guessing he’s a Louisiana Man now.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

shobbs@americanpress.com(Associated Press)

David J. Phillip