You're Louisiana State athletic director Joe Alleva. You're surfing the web one afternoon while you "oversee" the renovation of your office's private john.
All of a sudden, you come across a report from Internet muckraker/public masturbator SPORTSbyBROOKS claiming your head football coach has received a substantial contract offer from SEC West rival Arkansas – $27.5 million over five years.
You schedule a sit down for the next day with the Mad Hatter and his slimy agent. What's your play?
Andrew Coppens: Well, this one is tough one to say the least. But, if I were Alleva my first move would be to kick that slimy, blood sucking agent out of the room. Then I would look Les Miles square in the eyes and ask him a few simple questions: Are you happy winning national championships and making money that ranks you in the top five of all coaches in college football? Can you and your family live on nearly $4 million a year?
Then, I would bring his agent back into the room and tell them both if they ever pull a stunt like trying to leverage me against another school again, this whole conversation will go a lot differently. I also remind him that each and every one of us in this room is more than capable of being replaced at any point in time and no one is bigger than the university and the student-athletes we serve.
Finally, I'd simply say to Miles "Go out, win another national championship for us before this contract is up and then we can talk, but not a second beforehand."
If I'm Joe Alleva I smell a rat on this from the very beginning and call his agent on the carpet right in front of MIles and perhaps let a few of those details leak to the public. Coaches earning over $5 million is simply ridiculous from the get go to begin with, and if I'm Alleva, I'm taking a stand for honoring a contract on both sides.
Dave Singleton: If I'm Alleva, my play is to see why Miles would even listen to an offer from Arkansas. I never think that he's going to actually go, so I figure out what kind of price point it takes to keep him in Baton Rouge and get a deal done.
I want to spin out from this a little bit, though, and look at what Miles did. Is what he did, in the grand scheme of things, so wrong? I don't think so. He utilized leverage that he possessed, thanks to Arkansas, to secure a better deal in his current situation. In that case, isn't he being a smart businessman?
Andrew Coppens: That's very true, and after listening to his line of "I've got four kids to put through college" in yesterday's press conference I became ill to my stomach. Was it in jest? Probably, but in a country where mutil-millions of people are out of work or working part-time to try and scrape by a living for themselves I found that to be rather insulting to begin with. He could put all four of his kids through college on 10% of one years salary and that's assuming they are all Ivy League material (and if they're like their daddy I don't think that's happening).
In the end all he got was about a $500,000 a year pay raise and yes, I agree he was smart to use the leverage that he had thanks to Arkansas, but does that make it the right thing to do? That's the bigger question at play. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. Trust me, I've had to learn that lesson the hard way a time or two in life.
Personally, I'm a bit sick and tired of people always doing it just for the money, and, honestly, this just smells of his agent trying to make more and more from Les and not vice versa.
Aaron Torres: I agree with Dave here.
I think the succinct, testosterone-driven response here is for Alleva to look Miles in the eye, and say "If you really want the Arkansas job that bad, by all means..."
But while it's easy to say that's how you'd handle the situation, I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually execute it that way if they were put in the position.
No, you ask him if it's serious, why he would consider leaving and, most importantly, I'd look him in the eye and say, "What exactly aren't we providing you at LSU that you feel makes the Arkansas job more ideal?"
When Les and his agent stammer and stutter, I'd make my play, and tell him that he was well-compensated, his staff is taken care of, and I can't envision there being a single reason why he should consider coaching anywhere else.
Michael Felder: Dave, I'm with you. I like the move if it can work. If Joe Alleva is going to let you lead him around by his tail to get that money, then go get it.
I do think there is a day coming where a coach is going to get doubled down on and, personally, I think this was the perfect case for that to happen. Unlike Nick Saban or Brian Kelly or Urban Meyer, Miles isn't viewed as a guy that's brilliantly orchestrated his own success. The Bayou Bengals certainly could have found another big time recruiter who let's his team do the work.
That said, Miles got paid. Good for him. If they're dumb enough to fall for it, then you oughta go get what you can every time. So far this move has worked for Frank Beamer, Butch Davis, Les Miles Nick Saban and plenty of other dudes. The ball's in their court until an AD blocks the shot and creates new rules.
Allen Kenney: The reality here is that coaches like Miles know they have ADs by the balls. The majority of major schools have yet to show much resistance to the salary inflation, and Alleva would be rolling the dice to let a successful coach walk if the money is there to pay him. It could cost him his job if the replacement coach underachieves, but no one will blame him for extending Miles. Miles got more money out of it, and there's nothing really wrong with that.
I'm with Mike, though, in that I would have liked to have seen what would have happened had Alleva called the bluff. Coaches are getting pretty brazen with these leverage plays. This might be one of ballsiest I can think of. The idea that Miles would leave LSU for Arkansas seems laughable. If he did leave, there are probably fewer than 10 coaches who wouldn't be beating down Alleva's door for the job.
This struck me as a case of Miles using an idle threat to negotiate a raise. Very easy to get bitten in the ass that way.