Could Les Miles be on the verge of coming back to the Big Ten?
According to a Thursday report, the former LSU head coach — a Michigan alum and former assistant with the Wolverines — is heading to Minnesota to talk with university officials about the Gophers' newly vacant head-coaching position.
Former LSU football coach Les Miles flew to Twin Cities Wed. and is meeting with Univ. of Minnesota officials, sources tell @120Sports.— Michael Kim (@michaelkimHD) January 5, 2017
Minnesota needs a replacement for Tracy Claeys, who was fired earlier this week in the fallout of a brief player boycott that was sparked by a university investigation into an alleged sexual assault that resulted in the suspensions of 10 players.
The program is hardly on solid ground, with players openly discussing their disdain for the administration, specifically targeting complaints at new athletics director Mark Coyle. Both quarterback Mitch Leidner and former head coach Jerry Kill have blasted the administration in recent days, and one underclassman was quoted saying many players will transfer away from Minnesota regardless of who the next coach is.
But big names have still been speculated about when it comes to Claeys' successor. That includes Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck, who after leading the Broncos to 13 wins this season reportedly met with Minnesota officials Wednesday in Chicago.
And now Miles' name is heavily in the rumor mill after Thursday's report. Miles headed up a perennial national-championship contender at LSU, amassing 114 wins with just 34 losses in his 11 and a half seasons in Baton Rouge. He won a national championship at the end of the 2007 season and took the Tigers to the national title game at the end of the 2011 campaign. Miles won double digit games in seven seasons at LSU.
While Miles might seem as much too big a fish for the Gophers to land — this season's nine-win finish was just the eighth in program history — any Big Ten head-coaching job is a quality one, what with the ample resources and national stage the conference provides. Minnesota also plays in the Big Ten West, which has a much easier annual path to the conference title game than the other half of the league.
And Miles has Big Ten roots. He played under Bo Schembechler at Michigan and returned as an assistant under Schembechler and Gary Moeller.
Stay tuned as Minnesota continues to look for its next head coach. A big splash could be coming.