FAYETTEVILLE — Les Miles described his conversations with Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long both “preliminary” and “sincere” Wednesday.
In the end, the LSU coach said he just wasn’t interested in swapping Southeastern Conference Western Division schools.
LSU announced a contract extension and raise for Miles on Wednesday afternoon, a day after reports indicated he was a factor in the Arkansas coaching search.
“Les Miles is one of the premier coaches in the country and has LSU in contention for championships year in and year out,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a press release Wednesday. “Only two coaches in the 119-year history of LSU football have coached as many years at this school and only one has won more games. Les Miles has made a commitment to LSU and LSU is solidifying its commitment to Les Miles.”
The 59-year-old Miles is 85-20 in eight seasons with the Tigers, leading LSU to two Southeastern Conference championships and the 2007 national title. His new agreement with LSU extends his contract to 2019. The Associated Press reported Miles — who was earning roughly $3.8 million annually and hadn’t received a raise since 2008 — will now receive roughly $4.3 under the terms of the agreement.
Miles’ name first emerged in connection to the Arkansas job Tuesday, when the sports website Sports by Brooks indicated the Razorbacks offered a contract that would pay him $27.5 million over five years. The figure would have made Miles the highest paid coach in the country, according to USA Today’s recent salary study of college coaches. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported later that Miles, indeed, had a “serious offer” to consider and echoed the salary figures.
Miles said the reported contract figures were not accurate, but did confirm he spoke with Long about the position. He said the talks never became serious and added it didn’t get to a point where “there was a yes or no needed.” Miles also said he made recommendations on who Long could hire to fill the Arkansas position.
“Our conversations were very preliminary and fell short of any major, major interest,” Miles, who led LSU to a 20-13 win at Arkansas last Friday, told the Times-Picayune. “I can tell you I very much respect those Razorbacks and how they played in that last game, but I am an LSU head coach and will be and LSU coach as long as I can be.”
Miles declined comment when asked who initiated the contact between the two sides. He also denied reports that former Razorback and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was involved. Miles was on the Dallas staff from 1998-2000.
Either way, Miles will remain at LSU while Long’s search for a coach continues.
Long said in October the most challenging part of his search would be determining which coaches truly wanted to lead the Razorbacks and which ones were using the opening as a chance to create leverage at his current position.
“It’s different just because you have a lot of time to do a lot of research,” Long said of his search in October. “As we look forward, there is still going to be a window there that a lot of things will have to take place very quickly to secure that coach. You’ll go in with a lot more background knowledge, but you don’t know which people are truly interested and which are interested based on helping their current situation.”
Long told Arkansas’ players on Sunday the Razorbacks would have a new head Hog in 10 to 14 days. Miles is the first coach to confirm he had conversations with Long about the position, but several others have been connected to the position.
It includes TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Baylor’s Art Briles, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Boise State’s Chris Petersen and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Many potential candidates are coaching Saturday and would not be available to speak with Long about the Arkansas job until later.
TO SENIOR BOWL
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Cobi Hamilton will get to play one more game together before the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Senior Bowl announced Wednesday morning that Wilson has accepted an invitation to participate in the game.
Hamilton accepted an invitation earlier this month.
The Senior Bowl, which will be played in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 28, is regarded as one of the top pre-draft events.
Coaches, scouts and front office personnel from every NFL team will be in attendance throughout Senior Bowl week. Teams also will be coached by NFL staffs.
Wilson earned the invitation after a record-setting career. He threw for 7,025 yards with 45 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in two seasons as a starter.