Editorial: Miles just what KU needed
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
The University of Kansas took a crucial step in fixing its flailing football program with the hiring of Les Miles as its new coach.
Miles brings instant credibility to the KU program. In 15-plus seasons as a head coach at Oklahoma State and Louisiana State, Miles had just one losing season, going 4-7 in his first season at Oklahoma State in 2001. Four wins is still more than any Kansas team has had this decade.
More impressively, Miles won a national championship as head coach at LSU in 2007. With his hiring, KU is now the only athletics program in the country that can boast football and basketball coaches who have won national championships at the NCAA’s highest level.
It’s the kind of upgrade the Kansas football teams needs after struggling through a record of 6-41 the past four seasons under head coach David Beaty and 18-89 in the past nine. Most importantly, Miles’ hiring appears to have instantly energized the Kansas fan base. More than 300 fans showed at Johnny’s Tavern West Sunday night for Miles’ first appearance on “Hawk Talk.”
“The (Kansas) following is spectacular,” Miles said. “I see it everywhere I go. It’s in the buildings. It’s when you stop for gas. It’s everywhere. It’s pretty special.”
Miles didn’t over promise anything in his first press conference. He said he would build a staff and recruit players that will break the cycle of losing at Kansas. He said the Jayhawks would compete for conference championships.
Miles is 65 years old, and some have questioned whether he still has the energy and enthusiasm to lift the Kansas program to the heights Athletic Director Jeff Long and fans aspire to. When Miles was fired at LSU in 2016, his critics said the game had passed him by. His offense wasn’t considered innovative. But it’s hard to argue with results. Miles compiled a record of 114-34 in 11-plus seasons at LSU, including a record of 62-28 in the Southeastern Conference, considered the toughest in college football. He won two SEC titles, and in addition to the 2007 national championship, got his team to the national championship game following the 2011 season. LSU lost to Alabama, regarded as the top program in college football, in that title game but it should be noted LSU beat the Crimson Tide five times with Miles as its coach.
Simply put, Miles comes to Kansas with the strongest resume by far of any coach in the history of the Kansas football program. It is the kind of hire that should provide an immediate boost to desperately needed football ticket sales.
Long hit a home run in making his first hire. The fall of 2019 can’t get here quick enough.