Mark May: Todd Graham is a better option for UA than Les Miles
The search for a head football coach in Tucson continues days after Rich Rodriguez was fired Tuesday night after a $7.5 million lawsuit was filed by a former female employee of the UA athletic department, alleging a “hostile work environment” was created by the coach.
While it is late in the game, especially considering college football installed an early signing period for recruits for the first time ever, Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke has some intriguing options.
Former LSU head coach Les Miles, who was fired in the middle of the 2016 season, is still available and it has been reported that both the coach and Arizona have mutual interest.
College football insider Mark May believes Miles would be a good fit in Tucson and at age 64, has a lot of gas left in the tank.
“Oh, yeah,” May told Burns and Gambo Thursday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “You know he’ll come out and chew the grass down there and get everyone excited and they’ll have a terrific defense and a sputtering offense.
“And even thought they’ve got Khalil Tate — he’s an exciting offensive player — it all depends if they bring ‘The Hat’ in, they’ve got to find out who he can get as a dynamic offensive coordinator to run their offense.”
Miles isn’t the only intriguing name out there. Former Houston and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is still available, as are former Tennessee coach Butch Jones and Mark Helfrich, who coached Oregon to a 37-16 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship appearance in 2014.
But May also suggested another coach, familiar in Arizona, to straighten out a program that needs it after Rodriguez’s firing.
“Heck, why not get Todd Graham,” he asked. “I know everyone is joking about it, but at least the guy has recruited in the state of Arizona and in this area, he finished up with a 7-5 record and you couldn’t beat him.”
Graham was fired by ASU in November despite a winning record and a second-place finish in the Pac-12 South. He installed a discipline-based program for a team that desperately needed it after the Dennis Erickson coaching era. If you take away the fact that Graham on the other side of one of the most heated collegiate rivalries in the country — which is nearly impossible to do — he’s actually a pretty good candidate for what UA needs.
“I’m just saying, if I’m Arizona, if you can’t beat him, join him,” May said. “He beat them this year, and he’s available. Right now, if you want to keep your recruits and keep as many in house as possible — because you’re going to have to let these recruits go and let them out of their contracts.”
Due to the vital recruiting aspect and considering it’s already January, May didn’t hesitate in saying which coach — Miles or Graham — is the better option right now for UA.
“Right now, I’d probably say Todd Graham for what he’s done.”
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