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The roster was laden with talented players who’d thrived as underclassmen. So when Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon flew last January to Baton Rouge to gauge Miles‘ interest in returning to his alma mater, where he’d played for Hall of Famer Bo Schembechler, Miles decided to stick with the job he had.

LSU did not even have to give Miles a raise to keep him, although he did get both an extension and an increased budget for assistants, which he felt would further strengthen the foundation of the program.

“I looked at this building and the number of quality men and women that I was fortunate to work with _ players, coaches, staff _ and the idea that I would blow this up is just something I was not prepared to do,” Miles said. “I wanted to coach this team.”

Although Miles has won 75 games and a national title since becoming LSU’s coach in 2005, he hasn’t always been popular in Baton Rouge.

LSU struggled to stay in the national title picture in 2008 and 2009, and an episode of late-game clock mismanagement at Mississippi in 2009 was only made worse when he tried to explain it in his typically odd manner of speaking, which sometimes invites mockery with its disjointed syntax and the use of verbs as nouns.

Gundy, who coached with Miles for several years, said talking on TV was never the LSU coach’s strength.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for being a pretty smart football coach,” Gundy said. “What you see on TV is not really him at all.”

The AP coach of the year award has been handed out since 1998. This is Miles‘ first time winning it and he is the second LSU coach to take the honor. The first was Tide coach Nick Saban, who won it for the Tigers in 2003.

Now Miles has matched his predecessor again.

Miles, whose big-picture perspective was shaped not only by his father but his own personal health scare _ a cranial operation to remove a cyst in 2001_ resisted lashing back at his critics.

“I’m not going, `Ha! How do you like me now?’ I’m really not,” Miles said. “The support that is given to this program is tremendous. I could never do this without LSU. Our team is a quality group of men that just have to have victory, that will scrap and fight you tooth and nail for it. And I’ve got a quality group of coaches who love their players and put together great game plans. We fight together. … I don’t pretend for a minute it’s only me. It’s not even close.”

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AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.