Matt Tait: Les Miles’ move to name Brent Dearmon KU’s new OC only works if he lets it

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas head coach Les Miles heads into the huddle with his team during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Give Kansas football coach Les Miles credit for making the difficult move to part ways with offensive coordinator Les Koenning.

Now for the easy part — slide out of the way and let Brent Dearmon do his thing.

Making a coaching change of this magnitude midseason is never easy. It threatens stability, tests friendships and introduces the risk of having to start all over when you don’t really have time to do so.

But this move was critically important for the Kansas offense and Miles’ comments in announcing the decision made it clear he realized that.

“There is still a lot of football left to play this season,” Miles said in a news release. “And I want to put our players in the best position to be successful, which is why I am making the change now.”

Simply put, Koenning wasn’t doing that. Sure KU has two victories in six tries and dropped 48 on Boston College in a Week 3 road win. But that showing was a bit of an outlier.

Take away the BC game, which had Dearmon’s handprint all over it, and the Kansas offense is averaging just 17.8 points and 312 yards per game. That kind of production won’t get it done many places, and those totals would rank 122nd and 121st among the 130 FBS Division I programs this season.

But it’s more than the simple numbers that have painted an ugly picture for the Jayhawks thus far. Under Koenning, the Kansas offense was too predictable, too vanilla and lacked imagination.

When you’re a perpetual underdog, those facts make it nearly impossible to dig out of a hole because you’re always playing against a stacked deck. But Dearmon has the shovel now, and it’s imperative that Miles allows him to use it.

It’s clear that Dearmon has earned Miles’ respect. The first-year Kansas coach would not have made this move if that were not the case. But now he needs to let him do the job.

There’s no doubt that Dearmon can put together some kind of offense that is both creative and exciting while still sticking to at least some of the principles that Miles values and desires.

Truth be told, he probably already has.

But this move will only matter if Dearmon actually gets to be the offensive coordinator and not just sit in the OC’s office.

You might not know too much about Dearmon yet, but if you’ve been paying attention at all you probably have heard his name.

The reason? Again, Miles got that right in his comments announcing the change on Sunday.

“Brent is one of the brightest individuals I have encountered in all of my years coaching,” Miles said.

That statement’s no throwaway compliment. And I’ve heard similar praise from literally everyone I’ve heard talk about Dearmon in the past year.

So that should give KU fans — and the players themselves — real hope that this switch can pay dividends for Kansas football.

The timing here is terrific. With the Jayhawks on a bye this week, Dearmon now has two full weeks to put together the offensive game plan that ultimately will go down as his first impression.

It might not look like anything that rivals Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. But it ought to look better than what you’ve seen the first half of the season.

And if it does, that should give KU a chance — both now and in the future.


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