It happened! Really, I thought somehow, someway, the deal would get screwed up. Another, better, bigger deal would come along. Or there would be complications ending his previous contract. Or he would just decide he didn’t want to coach again.
Yet here we are with Les Miles as the new KU football coach!
That along with Pooka Williams going wild in Norman Saturday night combined to make this the biggest, most exciting weekend for KU football since the 2008 Missouri game.
It is telling, and very KU, that the best weekend in a decade for the program still did not include a win.
Oh well, baby steps.
And I figure the odds are best that the Les Miles era is well less that an unqualified success, so I’m going to be giddy for a day or two before I accept reality.
I said before that I wonder if Les will be as exciting to high school and Juco recruits as he is to fans. It was one thing to recruit at LSU, in the heart of the deepest pool of talent in the country. It’s another at KU in a state/region that doesn’t produce huge amounts talent of talent each year. But people who know Les say he was always able to connect with recruits because there’s no other coach really like him. He’s wacky, bordering on nut job at times, but that makes him stand out from others. He doesn’t have to recruit like he did at LSU, either. He doesn’t need to challenge Oklahoma and Texas for the best recruiting classes in the Big 12. He just needs to get solid classes every year with a few potential stars. I’m hopeful whatever recruiting mojo he still has is good enough to do that.
There have been some complaints about how Les did not alter his thinking as the game changed over the last decade. He claims he spent his time out of coaching reevaluating where the game was. I’ve been saying this for years: KU has to stop trying to run the same offense everyone else does. When you have way less talent, these highly complex, pass-happy offenses will not work. Run the ball. Build an offensive line that can expose holes in Big 12 defenses designed to cover five receivers on every down. Get a competent quarterback who can keep those defenses honest. But KU does not need to throw the ball 60 times a game right now. If, in 3–4 years, the talent level on offense makes that possible, then you switch. I’m just fine with Les bringing his old school sensibilities to the team and focusing on the ground game and defense.
Beyond that, I just hope Les realizes what he is getting into and has the energy, desire, humility, and commitment to get the program turned around. David Beaty got things started, and leaves behind some very nice pieces. But it is still a very shallow roster that loses some significant pieces to graduation. Keeping the Oklahoma game competitive Saturday does not mean the addition of Miles immediately turns KU into a six-win team next year. Not with how good and deep the Big 12 is.
This feels like a good hire. KU people are excited about it, which hopefully means more asses in the seats in the coming years. Honestly, in my lifetime I don’t remember a new KU coach generating more buzz that Miles has.
But buzz doesn’t automatically become wins. And Kansas football always finds a way to disappoint. I’d love to be surprised this time.
- I figure the most likely outcome is he gets KU to a crappy bowl game, maybe two, before he retires/leaves for another job. Next on the list would KU making zero progress. Third on the list would him turning KU into a consistently decent program. I’m fine with the first scenario. ↩