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Is Les Miles the Right Guy at Kansas?

University of Kansas new football coach Les Miles makes a statement during a news conference in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

5 years ago, this idea would be a “parallel universe” scenario….maybe.  But we can say it now:

Les Miles is the next head coach at Kansas University.

I’m still trying to have that sink in.

Okay.  Still doesn’t sit right.

In 2007, life was good for Les Miles at LSU and Kansas.  Miles and the Tigers won the National Championship (2nd in 5 years) and Kansas enjoyed an Orange Bowl run where they beat Virginia Tech.  However, that was at the pinnacle for Miles time at LSU and Kansas.

Kansas slipped in 2008 at 8-5, and 5-7 in 2009, but crashed afterwards, losing 9 or more games ever since and became the butt of jokes in the college football world.

LSU remained competitive including a 12-0 run in 2011 before getting blanked by Alabama in the National Championship, which would be the turning point in Miles career at Baton Rouge.  His inability to beat Alabama and the slumps that occurred after the Alabama game (coupled with is inability adapt to a modern day offense) would be his doom.  And Miles was fired fairly senselessly after a loss to Auburn in 2016.

After a buyout, Kansas AD Jeff Long has brought back the Mad Hatter to run the program at Kansas and get fans talking about the football program.   Seems like a good idea yes?

Miles has a great track record and posts a 141-55 record in his time both at Oklahoma State and LSU.  He won a national title and two SEC Championships when the SEC was at its most dominant in the college football world.

His coaching style is needless to say unique and you either love the decisions he makes or abhor them.  He has a “loyal to a fault” mentality with his players where some feel it is on the levels of being undisciplined and rowdy.  When Alabama brought in Nick Saban and started to build the dynasty that we see now, Miles was the Joker to Saban’s Batman. Saban was strict, by the book, and had a business mentality whereas Miles was the let’s have a good time and give people something to talk about.

However, the one thing you have to take note is, Batman mostly beats the Joker.  And Saban won the final 5 meetings against Miles.

To know Les Miles is that he is a coach that wants to instill the arrogance, swagger, and cockiness into his team, something Kansas football has definitely lagged over the years.  In that case, he will have that.  Miles can recruit with the best of them and if he continues to bring that recruiting prowess to Lawrence and help the Jayhawks win more games.

But in order for Kansas to get out of the cellar in the Big 12, Les Miles will have to do different things to change the landscape on the field than what he did with LSU.  Yes, he can recruit and install a new attitude.  However, his coaching decisions in the past have nailed him on a few games (I’m thinking the 2012 Alabama game notably) and the lack of discipline his teams had also played a key factor (personal fouls in the games, suspensions handed down by the school, etc.).  Also, the offensive style of play Miles had at LSU, which was mostly run run run, (no option) doesn’t really put up a lot of points in the high-scoring Big 12 Conference.  Miles will need to spread out his offense and find a quarterback who can pass, which was something that eluded him down at Baton Rouge.  If he does not make these changes, Miles will be a flop at Kansas.

I don’t see Les Miles and Kansas within the next three years being competitive for a Big 12 title.  It may take longer especially when Oklahoma is running things and Texas taking those steps forward to be back in the conference.  But the days of 1-11, 2-10, and 3-9 should be ending after this year.  Miles will definitely get them playing hard and tough.  However, if Les Miles wants to gain any measure of success at Kansas, he has to learn why he fell apart down at LSU and will have to adapt to how offenses are run today.  If he does that, great.  Kansas is back to being a legit football program.  If not, then Kansas remains at the bottom of the Big 12 and fans will use football as something to pass the time for basketball season.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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