The fascinating thing about this business is we get to watch history change right before our eyes.
For instance, let’s wind the clock back to Dec. 1, 2007. It’s the final weekend of the regular season and, in what seemed like a fitting end to one of the wildest seasons on record, Missouri is No. 1 in the BCS standings and West Virginia No. 2. All that needs to happen to get the most random title game to date is Missouri win a Big 12 Championship rematch with Oklahoma and WVU beat 4-7 Pittsburgh in Morgantown.
Meanwhile in the sport, Lloyd Carr had just stepped down at Michigan and the Wolverines were in hot pursuit of one of the hottest names in the sport — LSU head coach and Certified Michigan Man Les Miles. In fact, Kirk Herbstreit reported ahead of the Tigers’ SEC Championship appearance with Tennessee that Miles would indeed be the next Michigan coach, leading to this epic press conference moment.
This being the bonkers year of 2007, form did not hold. Missouri lost handily to Oklahoma and West Virginia played one of the most inexplicable games — well, more on this momentarily — in recent memory, as an offense that dropped 66 points on No. 20 Connecticut (yeah, UConn was a ranked member of a Power Conference in ’07; told you it was nuts then) a week prior could not move the ball, losing 13-9 to its Backyard Brawl rivals.
LSU took advantage of the unfolding chaos and, thanks to a 21-14 win over the Vols, vaulted all the way from No. 7 to No. 2 on Selection Sunday. A month later, LSU would handle No. 1 Ohio State at its home-away-from-home, the Superdome, to become college football’s first 2-loss national champion of the modern era.
As the performances of their respective teams indicated, West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez was maneuvering to take the Michigan job, while Miles was passing on his alma mater to remain at LSU.
Rodriguez was announced as Michigan’s new head coach on Dec. 16, 2007. (By the way, if this happened now, Rich Rod would be in maize and blue by 10 a.m. on Dec. 2.)
Michigan and the Michigan Man passed like ships in the night, never to meet. Timing is everything in life.
Now, 12 years later, Miles is comfortable airing his regrets about never taking the Michigan job.
“I love Michigan,” Miles in an interview with a Detroit News podcast. “We just didn’t have the opportunity. It does break my heart. I love the place. There were things I was fortunate to accomplish that I only give credit to Michigan for the experiences I had that allowed me to do some of things I did. I thank the time I was there and how much I enjoyed being around the Michigan players and Coach (Bo) Schembechler.
“It didn’t work out and I’m sad that it didn’t.”
Miles went on to say that “roadblocks” got in the way of him taking the job in 2007. He doesn’t come out and say it, but it sounds like influential people in maize and blue were against him taking the job. (Those people were wrong.) One of the people rumored to be in the anti-Les camp was Lloyd Carr.
One thing Miles does say? That LSU was a “decent” place.
“I don’t know that I was ever really close (to getting the job),” he said. “I was fortunate to be at a decent place. It didn’t work out and I’m sad that it didn’t.
“It did not have to do with the amount of money, it had to do with the decisions that would be made on behalf of Michigan if in fact I would be the head football coach. I just needed some backing and some strength. It was probably too far away. It’s certainly a place I loved. Sometimes it’s just not in the cards.”
Listen to the inflection yourself if Les is being serious, sarcastic or, well, Les here.
"It does break my heart."
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) August 9, 2019
Miles never led LSU to another national championship — though he came damn close in 2011 — before he was forced out mid-season in 2016. Rodriguez was fired after three seasons with a 15-22 record.