BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Les Miles considers talk about his job security “off limits” right now and he has no interest in retiring.
Miles also said Monday that Louisiana has become “home” to him and his family as he nears the end of his 11th season with the Tigers.
But LSU is on a skid like no other under Miles, raising questions about his future.
The Tigers have lost three straight for the first time since he arrived in 2005. Those losses have dropped LSU, which entered November unbeaten and firmly in contention for the College Football Playoff, to 7-3 and out of the Top 25.
“I think the question’s valid,” Miles said of questions about his job. “At some point in time there’s a me in this. Not while I’m coaching. This will always be about our players.”
Miles did not say whether he’s met with top LSU athletic department officials about his future, saying the only instruction he has received is to continue doing his job as he normally would.
“Someone’s asked me about coaching for my job and I think I’ve done that for 11 years,” Miles said.
The 62-year-old Miles is 110-32 at LSU with one national championship in the 2007 season. He is under contract through 2019. If LSU wants to fire Miles this year, the university would have to pay a buyout of about $15 million. That figure lowers to $12.9 million after Jan. 1.
The group that would likely foot the bill to buy out miles — a private, nonprofit athletic find-raising arm called the Tiger Athletic Foundation — has not been in talks with anyone about firing Miles.
“There has been no meeting and there will not be,” said TAF executive committee member Charlie Weems, a Shreveport attorney who also is a former chairman of the LSU Board of Supervisors. “We support LSU Athletics, but hiring and firing decisions are made solely by those LSU officials charged with that responsibility.”
Those officials are athletic director Joe Alleva and LSU President F. King Alexander; they have not commented publicly on Miles’ status.
Miles, meanwhile, said this isn’t the first time there have been reports that he was leaving LSU.
Those past reports, Miles said, “had me in (another) job not long ago, either, as I recall, and on a plane that I was not on.”
The coach held a team meeting before practice on Monday afternoon, as he does every game week. During the meeting, he urged his players to focus on Saturday night’s game against Texas A&M, not his job status, receiver Malachi Dupre said.
“He didn’t allude much to his situation. I know he realizes that we’re hearing a lot, just like everyone else is,” Dupre said. “He doesn’t want it to create that much of a distraction. I feel the players on the team are doing a great job of not letting it affect our play or our preparation.
“He’s done a great job since he’s been here, has put up historic numbers,” Dupre said, alluding to Miles reaching 100 victories faster than any other LSU coach. “As long as he’s our coach, we’re standing behind him fully. We appreciate how hard he works. We realize he’s a great coach.”
Miles said he met with his assistants Monday morning.
“They kind of understand this is not about me. This is about the team,” Miles said. “This is about preparing to beat an opponent and enjoying the young men that we coach.”
The coach said there is “probably some concern,” among members of the coaching staff, but added that they understand that “victory is maybe more important than anybody’s job.”
Each of LSU’s past three losses were by double digits. The first of those losses came against Alabama, which has now beaten the Tigers five straight times, starting with the 2011-12 BCS title game in New Orleans.
If LSU loses to Texas A&M, the Tigers will finish 4-4 in the SEC for a second straight season.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a former LSU offensive coordinator under both Nick Saban and Miles, declined to talk specifically about the LSU coaching situation, but did address all the coaching vacancies and the state of the profession.
“It’s the nature of the business. There isn’t patience or any of that anymore,” Fisher said Monday. “What have you done for me lately or how are you going to do it? I’ve never seen a year like this year. There are so many jobs and situations out there.”
Fisher said the College Football Playoffs has contributed to the changes.
“You have to get in the playoffs and that is where leaders of the university have to understand what they want and how they want it,” Fisher said.