Michigan loses Hat as clock keeps ticking

Maybe Michigan will get the right guy in the end.

Maybe Brady Hoke or some mystery coach will make the Wolverines a consistent winner on the field.

Maybe first-year athletic director Dave Brandon will look smart when all is said and done and draw praise for his patience.

But right now, Deliberate Dave and his protracted coaching transition look like a mess.

Les Miles has decided to remain at LSU after discussing the coaching vacancy at Michigan with school representatives Monday night. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva released a statement Tuesday confirming Miles' return, and The Hat will address reporters after speaking at the American Football Coaches Association convention Tuesday in Dallas.

Miles was the first candidate I heard about after Michigan dumped Rich Rodriguez last week. It appeared like Michigan would land Miles after Brandon and others flew to Baton Rouge on Monday night, but doubt crept in after Miles didn't return to Ann Arbor. Was there an offer made? Did The Hat turn it down?

Miles has a pretty good gig at LSU, where he gets paid handsomely, can sign enormous recruiting classes and competes for national championships.

Jim Harbaugh was Michigan's dream candidate, but the ship sailed when he signed with the 49ers. Miles is the most qualified candidate with direct Michigan ties, as he boasts a 62-17 record at LSU with a national title in 2007. Other potential candidates like Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Missouri's Gary Pinkel didn't have interest in talking with Michigan.

What does this say about the Michigan job and the search?

Michigan still is an elite job in my mind, but it seems like there aren't too many qualified candidates who would be truly driven by the desire to restore U-M to glory. There's certainly some rebuilding to do in Ann Arbor, which can turn off coaches in good situations. One other factor is Brandon. He wasn't exactly a hands-off AD during Rodriguez's final year. Could that management style turn away good candidates?

The toughest part to understand is the urgency component, or lack thereof as far as Brandon is concerned. Think how different this search could have been if conducted in early December. Would Harbaugh have responded differently? Who else would have been available? Getting a new coach in place before the holidays would have allowed him a chance to secure a decent recruiting class. As it stands now, signing day likely will be a rough one for the Maize and Blue.

Michigan players still don't have a coach, which will make today's team meeting a bit odd.

Hoke wants the job, and he has the support from key members of the Michigan brass. He's not a big name and his résumé won't blow anyone away. But he still could be the right guy in the end. He's a bit of a risk, but Michigan doesn't appear to have a ton of options.

You can start the Hoke watch now.

Your move, Dave Brandon. The clock is still ticking ...