Miles in contact, but no offer extended

Originally Published: January 2, 2005
ESPN.com news services

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Oklahoma State coach Les Miles was expected to travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday for a meeting with LSU about its vacant head coaching position.

"I go to LSU [on Sunday] to talk about it," Miles told the Tulsa World on Saturday. "If things work out, there will be something official on Monday."

Miles said he spoke by telephone Saturday night with LSU athletic director Skip Bertman, but that no job offer was extended.

"There was not," Miles said. "Not officially."

The 51-year-old Miles, who led Oklahoma State to three straight bowl games, emerged as the top candidate Saturday after Louisville coach Bobby Petrino withdrew from consideration.

LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette, speaking at the Capital One Bowl Saturday in Orlando, Fla., where the Tigers lost to Iowa 30-25 in Saban's last game, would not comment on Miles.

The LSU job opened when Saban took the head coaching job with the Miami Dolphins. The school hoped to complete the search quickly to allow the new coach to immediately get involved with recruiting. The process was delayed because the most prominent candidates were coaching in bowl games or in the NFL.

Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt withdrew from consideration Thursday.

LSU had hoped to interview Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, but Del Rio backed out of an interview with LSU on Friday when he realized that team owner Wayne Weaver was out of the loop, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports.

Miles is 28-21 in four seasons with the Cowboys, who had made just one bowl appearance in the 12 seasons before he arrived. His biggest wins came against the Cowboys' instate rival, Oklahoma, in his first two seasons.

On Wednesday, Oklahoma State lost 33-7 to Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl.

Miles has had success despite being in the shadow of a bigger program in the same state (for Miles it's Oklahoma; for Saban, who came to LSU from Michigan State, it was Michigan). He has experience as an NFL assistant and as a head coach in a power conference. And he comes as a Louisiana outsider.

This year Miles revamped his offense after losing two potential starting quarterbacks -- one to professional baseball, the other to injury. Oklahoma State went from a prolific passing attack to a run-first operation and still managed to win seven games and go to the Alamo.

Petrino had a better year than Miles, going 11-1 at Louisville and cracking the top 10, but his candidacy at LSU seemed to stagnate during a week of heavy criticism for interviewing for the job less than a week after signing a new contract. Petrino said Saturday that he decided Louisville was where he wanted to be, but the information about Miles' rise at LSU fuels speculation that he was making a strategic retreat because he knew he would not receive an offer.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Pat Forde was used in this report.

ALSO SEE