Miles takes over at LSU

The Tigers believe new coach will do what old coach did.

Les Miles gestures to his wife, Kathy, after being introduced Monday as Louisiana State University's new football coach in Baton Rouge, La. Miles said he wants to build on the work of Nick Saban, who left the Tigers to become head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Behind Miles is LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman.

The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 12:53 a.m.
Replacing Nick Saban won't be easy. Yet that's what's expected of Les Miles - right down to another national championship.
Miles was introduced as LSU's football coach on Monday, succeeding Saban, who left the Tigers for the Miami Dolphins.
"Not just anybody can coach at LSU, in my opinion," Tigers athletic director Skip Bertman said. "At this level, because of the media glare, I think it's a fit that has to do with the right blend of leadership and characteristics to manage a program of this magnitude. I think Les Miles has those things."
Bertman believes Miles has the same characteristics that drew him to Saban five years ago - a winning college record in a BCS conference, consistency, running a clean program with a strong commitment to academics and NFL experience.
Miles agrees that he was ready for the job.
"Here, the grand scope of success that this place can have, the ability to recruit, compete for championships and national championships," Miles said. "My competitive spirit would not let me say no."
Saban impressed Bertman by making Michigan State a force in a state that had been dominated by Michigan.
Miles has done much the same thing, taking an Oklahoma State program that hadn't been to a bowl game for 12 years and going to three consecutive bowls. The Cowboys also enjoyed a surge in ticket sales of 35-40 percent during his tenure. He had a 28-21 record in four years at Oklahoma State and was selected coach of the year in the Big 12 in 2002.
The Cowboys started quickly this season, but lost five of their last seven games and finished 7-5. They lost 33-7 to Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday.
"Five years ago, Nick Saban didn't have the stature he has today," Bertman said. "He did a great coaching job, because he took advantage of the facilities that LSU made available."
Bertman declined to reveal details of Miles' contract, except to say that Miles would not be paid as well as Saban.
"I'm not going to pay Saban money for a guy who hasn't earned it," Bertman said.
Saban had the nation's richest college football contract, a seven-year, $18.45 million deal he signed after winning a share of the national title in 2003. The school is completing a stadium expansion and a new football operations center.
Miles' contract still needs to be approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to meet later this month.
When LSU offered Miles the job, Oklahoma State offered him a raise, Bertman said.
"Miles stuck to his word and did not try to re-negotiate with me," he said.
LSU might have to pay a buyout to get Miles out of his current contract with Oklahoma State. Miles recently agreed to a contract with the Cowboys that extends through 2011 and pays him an average of more than $1.5 million per year. Bertman said last week the school would pay its next coach the appropriate "market value," depending on the coach.
Miles expected to return to Oklahoma State to meet with his former team when classes resumed. He met with a few LSU players Monday morning.
"We told him we had a lot of seniors coming back, 25 or 26 I think," said offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth. "And we told him we're all committed to doing the same thing with him we did with coach Saban."

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