Les Miles wants to coach again, and he's not shy to admit he's waiting for an opportunity.
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"I want you to know something," Miles said last October. "I have 10 or 12 years left in me. There's plenty of energy in this body. I'm not a guy who lends himself to excesses, and I have great health. Let's go find us a place where the school wants to invest and win. And I say, 'Let's go!'"
“I want to coach football," he said. "That’s pretty simple. I want an opportunity at a place that can win and a place where they really want to invest in the players. If they do that, I’m good.”
And in August:
"It's pretty obvious now what I want to do," Miles said. "I want to hire a great staff and chase a national championship at a place that wants this pursuit. I want to recruit again. I want an AD and president to say, 'I'm with you, let's go do this.' I want them with me."
Not many championship-capable programs have coaching vacancies each year, and even those who do, would they take a shot on Miles, a 63-year-old coach who was aggressively criticized for his failure to adapt and get over the hump in Baton Rouge?
Here are five potential options for Miles in 2018.
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Current Head Coach: Scottie Montgomery
Sorry ECU, but it's highly unlikely Les Miles can "chase a national championship" in Greenville.
Still, it's a great program with great support that's just three years removed from 26 wins over a three-year period and has the potential to compete for a New Year's Six bowl berth in the near future. They made a mistake with a quick-trigger dismissal of beloved head coach (and alum) Ruffin McNeill and have seen Scott Montgomery fail miserable (4-13 since 2016).
Might Miles be interested in a few years in a lower-pressure environment then make the leap back to the Power Five?
Current Head Coach: Butch Jones
More than a few Tennessee stakeholders and fans will say, "We can do better than a guy who was run out of town at a peer instituton."
But can they? Or a better question: Do they know how to?
Like McNeill at ECU, firing Philip Fulmer was an egregious mistake for which the school's leadership will never be forgiven for. If a big name isn't interested in their blank check, a second-tier option like Miles becomes both attractive and financially feasible.
Current Head Coach: Barry Odom
Firing a alum who loves his job and school more than anything is never hard. But let's be honest, where is Missouri going under Barry Odom?
The former Tigers' linebacker and longtime assistant was saddled with unprecedented adversity following the abrupt departure of Gary Pinkel, on-campus unrest and countless issues within the athletic department. After a respectable finish to the 2016 season — his first as head coach — Missouri has been completely inept in 2017, losing their three FBS games by an average of 29 points.
It's hard to see the program's potential right now but Miles and his pinpoint recruiting could make it work.
Current Head Coach: Todd Graham
Mike Norvell is overwhelmingly sensible choice if Arizona State makes a change. The 35-year-old Memphis head coach led high-powered offenses under Graham before leaving last year and will field numerous Power Five offers after the season.
If Norvell isn't interested or they want someone with more than two years of head coaching experience, Les Miles is an option. He's never coached in the Pac-12 — or west of Colorado — but that hardly matters for a veteran with nearly four decades of college football experience and relationships everywhere.
Current Head Coach: Jim Mora
UCLA's 34-point comeback vs. Texas A&M has been overshadowed by losses to Memphis and Stanford — during which they allowed 106 total points. It's impossible to see Mora keeping his job with another non-bowl season, which would lead to the Bruins' fifth coaching hire since 1996.
Kyle Whittingham, Chip Kelly and former UCLA assistant Dino Babers will be names to watch. If there's not mutual interest from that trio and others, Les Miles is an obvious, big-name candidate that hasn't recruited heavily in California but could win immediately.
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