The Cat in the Hat is apparently back.
It looked this weekend like the only thing barring an official announcement on Les Miles becoming the new football coach at Kansas were some undotted I’s and uncrossed T’s. All indications are that Miles, after what will be a two-plus-season exile from the game, will be back in college football.
College football fans everywhere should rejoice — not just the ones at LSU who saw their school save $5 million in buyout money when Miles settled with the school Thursday for $1.5 million.
Les Miles is likely on his way back to college football.
However you feel about Miles — his offensive philosophy, the way his tenure at LSU ended in September 2016, what have you — the game is unquestionably more fun with Miles in it. He may have to put his acting career back on the shelf, but one of the most charming character actors in the history of the game will be at it again. With his 142 career wins and .721 career winning percentage (to date), a national title and two Southeastern Conference championships at LSU, Miles should one day be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
That honor will move even closer to Miles grasp if he can do something, anything, to make Kansas a winner in football again.
Can't see video below? Click here.
The Jayhawks are college basketball royalty, but college football paupers. Kansas has not had a winning season since going 12-1 and 8-5 back-to-back in 2007-08 and has only one other winning season overall since 1995. The Jayhawks were 6-40 in four seasons under lame-duck coach David Beaty heading into a Saturday night game with Oklahoma.
To call it a heavy lifting job would be an injustice to heavy lifting jobs, especially for a coach who just turned 65 this past Saturday. But the man who hired Miles to LSU in 2005 said The Hat can handle it.
“I just don’t see him as 65,” former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said. “He is a real high-energy person. He goes in early and stays late and enjoys the heck out of it. He enjoys the players and the film (study) and so on.
“I think he will do a very, very good job.”
Kansas certainly could have done worse. Though it remains a question as to how Miles’ ground-and-pound, power football and rock-ribbed defensive philosophy plays in the pedal-to-the-metal, no defense Big 12 — keep in mind Miles threw the ball a fair amount as coach at Oklahoma State from 2001-04 — Bertman said he believes Miles is the right coach at the right time in Lawrence.
“Jeff Long the athletic director needs a mature coach,” Bertman said. “He doesn’t need a young rah-rah coach, of which there are many good ones. He needs a coach who has a lot of connections with many people, because he’s been coaching a long time.
LSU announced Thursday that it had agreed to a settlement with former football coach Les Miles, bringing his final contract with the universit…
“It may not be important to fans, but it is to ADs: His ability to get kids to graduate is very strong. He has had an ability to keep out the off-the-field problems. The kids like him. It’s a tough spot. He’s got to coach them up and make them believers, but he’s good at that.”
Miles had flirtations with a number of jobs since his LSU firing; his name was mentioned for job openings near (Ole Miss, Houston, Baylor) and far (Minnesota, Purdue). Nothing ever came of them, and it became questionable, even doubtful, that Miles would coach again. He clearly did not want to go the mid-major route, like his former LSU offensive coordinator Bo Pelini did at Youngstown State after being fired at Nebraska. Say what you will about Kansas football, it is a Power Five job.
“Les wanted to coach immediately,” Bertman said. “He didn’t want to sit around and collect a check.”
Miles was collecting $133,000 per month from LSU, with another $6.5 million from his 2016 buyout still on the books (he was required to be looking for work). But he hammered out a lump-sum settlement with LSU this week that looked like the first step to putting a coaching whistle back around Miles’ neck.
Bertman said from Miles’ perspective, the settlement was typical of the man.
“It was a clean ending, meaning it helped LSU. It helped Les,” Bertman said. “It was the right thing to do. As usual, Les did the right thing.”
Though Miles is unlikely to ever make Kansas into a program that is any sort of threat to LSU football, there is something Tiger football will have to come to grips with:
Someone is going to think the FieldTurf fake grass in Kansas Memorial Stadium tastes best.