Weems says Miles values LSU over Michigan
UPDATED: Former LSU Board of Supervisors member speaks out
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
After more than a week of Les Miles-to-Michigan rumors, the sixth-year LSU head coach put an end to all speculation Tuesday morning, pledging his allegiance to the Tigers.
While some around the state and country were surprised - particularly after Miles was reported to be with Michigan AD Dave Brandon in Baton Rouge Monday night - at least one former member of the LSU Board of Supervisors was not.
Charles Weems, on the Board when LSU interviewed and ultimately hired Miles in January 2005, suggested to Tiger Rag in an interview Tuesday Miles seems to value LSU over Michigan.
“I’ll tell you this story,” said Weems in an interview with Michelle Southern of the Louisiana Radio Network, a sister news organization of Tiger Rag. “When we interviewed Les the first time, I asked him in the interview, ‘Les, if you come to our place and you’re successful and then the University of Michigan comes calling, what would you do?’”
“And he looked at me in the interview, dead serious, and said ‘Why would anybody leave LSU to go to Michigan?’ I asked him the same thing at dinner the other night at the Cotton Bowl, and he gave me the same answer. So I’m glad to see the man is a man of his word.”
CLICK HERE to listen to Michelle Southern’s 4:30-minute interview with Charlie Weems in its entirety.
Weems, a friend of the program still invited by LSU AD Joe Alleva to attend every Tiger game on the sidelines, said he’s pleased with the outcome and believes it’s the best possible result for the university.
“I’m thrilled, of course,” Weems explained. “I think it’s the best thing for Les. I think it’s the best thing for the university, and it’s the best thing for our state. I’m glad it’s over.”
As Weems hinted at toward the end of that statement, “Miles Watch 2011″ has led to a grueling past few days of speculation on the substance of backdoor meetings and the comings and goings of several different planes from the Dallas, Detroit and Baton Rouge airports.
Much of the deliberation, at least so it’s rumored on the LSU end, has been about altering Miles’ existing contract with LSU. Weems told Southern he doubts there will be any major changes to Miles’ deal going forward.
“I think what you’ll see is just a slight tweaking, perhaps, of the contract,” continued Weems. “This was never about Les Miles trying to hold LSU up for money, and I don’t think (it’s) something where you see any significant, consequential change in his contract.
“It was really more a discussion about whether Les Miles was going to go back to a university that birthed him, if you will, in football. Where he learned the lessons from Bo Schembechler and where his wife’s family is from. In the final analysis, Les Miles loves LSU. He’s come to embrace it. He loves his team. He loves what he’s got going here, and he couldn’t pull the trigger. He couldn’t go anywhere.”
Weems went on to add that in previous conversations Miles has referred to the LSU head coaching gig as “the greatest job in America.”
With that mantle - and a constant flow of some of the nation’s top recruits - comes expectations which breed a demanding, if not somewhat entitled fan base.
As anyone who’s ever been to Tiger Stadium can attest, Baton Rouge isn’t always a forgiving place and its fans not always the quickest to forgive or forget. Weems touched on that topic, emphasizing that Miles has not only come to terms with the notion, but even embraces it.
Said Weems: “Every fan base has got some of that in it. I told a reporter earlier this fall that our fans are half-psychotic, and one of my friends said, ‘Do you mean that we’re all half-crazy or that half of us are crazy?’ I’m not sure to the answer of that question, but the guy (Miles) gets paid a lot of money to do a very difficult job, relying on young kids to do it for him.
“I think he understands the expectations at LSU. He’s embraced them. Sure, we’d all like to be loved all the time, but that’s not gonna be the way it is. I think he recognizes the realities of his job, and he loves it here.”
In a brief interview with media members in Dallas Tuesday afternoon, Miles echoed the sentiment that Baton Rouge has become home for he and his family.
The next question, aside from what happens at the offensive coordinator position, is how long might Miles be eating grass and leading his damn strong football team in the Red Stick.
“I think Les could retire in this job,” said Weems. “When you look at Joe Paterno, it’s hard to say what’s too old for a football coach. But I think Les is gonna be here as long as he’s got the fire in his belly and the passion for this program which he’s got right now. This might be his last job.”
Editor Ben Love reports on LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.