Former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman says that Les Miles turned down the opportunity to coach Michigan in 2011.
Miles was fired on Sunday after 12 seasons at LSU, after the Tigers started the season 2–2 despite being ranked in the top five in preseason polls.
“Les Miles turned that job down for more money at Michigan. He turned it down,” Bertman said during a radio interview on 104.5 FM. “He would never say that because he’s a very humble guy. But I was there; he turned it down.”
Michigan was looking for a head coach in 2011, after having fired Rich Rodriguez following three sub-par seasons at the school.
“I swear to God that’s true. He turned it down,” Bertman said. “LSU had just given him this new contract, and the president of Domino’s Pizza flew down on a Domino’s plane and offered him [the Michigan job], and he says, ‘You’ve got to tell me tonight, Les, because if you don’t say yes, I’m going to get Brady Hoke.’ And sure enough, he took off and the next day you read in the paper that he hired Brady Hoke.”
Michigan did end up hiring Hoke, who led the school for four seasons before being dismissed in 2014 in favor of Jim Harbaugh.
As far as the current job search with the LSU head football coach, Bertman believes the school could pursue someone who is already coaching somewhere else, such as Houston coach Tom Herman.
“I’m certainly not second-guessing this move — I’m for whatever LSU does — but in this case, Joe will make his own decision based on the people who are available,” Bertman said. “Now, you may not know, I may not know, who all those people are because they don’t want their names out there. So if Tom Herman is the guy, he doesn’t want to hurt the Houston backing by saying, ‘I’m looking for this,’ and then not get the job and go back. So it’s a very hard thing to do.”
– Scooby Axson