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Monday, July 29, 2019

Why Les Miles thinks his first KU team is more talented than his first OSU team

Kansas head coach Les Miles hops in the huddle with Bryce Torneden and the defense during Late Night Under the Lights on Saturday, April, 13, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Les Miles hops in the huddle with Bryce Torneden and the defense during Late Night Under the Lights on Saturday, April, 13, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

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It’s true that Les Miles after more than two years away from the college football coaching world is taking on a monumental task in attempting to reinvigorate a long flatlining Kansas football program.

In the eight-plus months since Miles began this endeavor, however, the 65-year-old football coach with an impressive résumé heads into his first season in Lawrence not only confident, but also willing to make his convictions known.

As he did at the conclusion of his new program’s spring practice schedule a few months back, Miles reiterated recently his hunch that the first team he’ll coach at KU has “a better talent base” than the one he led at Oklahoma State in his debut season as a head coach 18 years ago.

“I think you will see that this Kansas team,” Miles said of a program that went 3-9 in 2018 and has won no more than three games in a season since 2009, “is much more talented than their record shows.”

In 2001, OSU gave Miles his first head coaching job. The Cowboys finished 4-7 overall and 2-6 in the Big 12. Even so, OSU had talented personnel, with such recognizable names to longtime fans of the conference as Tatum Bell, Rashaun Woods and Josh Fields.

So why, Miles was asked earlier this month at Big 12 Football Media Days, is this KU team better than that OSU team?

Miles began his case by pointing out that the Cowboys got pretty deep into their season before turning to Fields at quarterback.

“The initial quarterback that we put on the field’s going be better,” Miles predicted of either junior Thomas MacVittie or senior Carter Stanley, compared to OSU’s 2001 Week 1 starting QB, Aso Pogi.

“I think wide receivers are going to be in place,” Miles added of a position group for KU headlined by a pair of junior college transfers, Andrew Parchment and Ezra Naylor, and a former Alabama wideout, Daylon Charlot.

Miles then conceded that Woods, who caught 80 passes for 1,000-plus yards and 10 touchdowns in 2001 was “pretty good.”

Still, Miles contended that KU’s veteran offensive line group heads into the preseason “in really good shape,” too.

“We’ve got running backs,” Miles went on, referencing sophomore Pooka Williams, senior Khalil Herbert and junior Dom Williams. “I don’t know that we had a pair of running backs (at OSU) like we have. So we’ll have advantages there.”

OSU finished with a losing record in 11 of the 12 seasons before Miles arrived. During his four seasons in charge, the Cowboys went 28-21. Since then, his successor, Mike Gundy, possesses a 121-59 marks at Oklahoma State.

KU appears to be a long way form playing in bowl games every year the way OSU does now. Miles, of course, would like to change that.

“I can tell you it involves effort and energy,” Miles replied, when asked how he could take a program associated with losing and disarray and turn it into a winner. “And the one thing I can say is I am not going to coach effort and energy.”

Instead, Miles explained, he needs his players to pursue those on their own so he can focus on more critical functions within his job.

“(If) I know they’re going to tackle, I know they’re going to block and I know that they’re going to have effort and energy,” he said, “I now can turn to the game plan and calls and make a difference. But we all have to commit first that we play with great effort and energy.”

Miles said this group of Jayhawks shares some “similarities” with a “talented” OSU team he coached in 2001. But he openly gave this KU team the edge.

“I think there’s more skill at more positions,” Miles said of the 2019 Jayhawks. “I think our secondary is going to be good. Our linebackers are going to be fast and long and going to get hands on balls. Our defensive line, it’s pretty damn good.

“So I think we’re going to have kicking and punting. I think we have good return teams. I just see us being talented,” Miles said. “So we’ll have to see how talented other clubs are.”

If KU were to end up going 4-8 in Miles’ first season it would be the best year the program has experienced since Mark Mangino’s final season at the helm, in 2009, when the Jayhawks went 5-7.

Miles declined, though, to get into how he will measure success for Kansas this year.

“I will never put a cap on my team, any team that I coach,” Miles declared. “If you go to a bowl game, that’s certainly a positive step, right? I think if you give yourself that opportunity to continue to improve, you win some very significant games at the back end of the season, you win some difficult games at the back end of the season. And maybe you have the opportunity to play for a championship.”

While the coach who heads into the fall with a 142-55 career record emphasized KU will need to have a productive, injury free preseason camp in August, Miles said he and his staff will continue to build a new culture in the weeks and months ahead.

“I’m not going to put a top on it,” Miles hammered home of introducing a win total goal ahead of his debut fall at KU.

Comments

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Brett - You reading this? Too bad Les isn’t as smart as you. Personally, I’ll side with Coach. How many D1 Ws do you have?

Brett McCabe 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Unclear on your post. I’ve posted nothing but positives about Miles. Big drinking night?

Miles is too cagey to fall into the trap that the previous coach built, set and walked into. I like that he talks in positive tones about his team, that instead of saying he’s not going to predict a win total, he says that he’s not going to put a cap on how many wins they might get.

His comments about effort and energy might also be a hint about the type of kids he’s recruiting. Unless you are a freakishly good athlete, you have to enjoy the grind to win at this game. A lot of kids are very good in high school, they get a scholarship and realize that they got all that they really wanted. It’s the players who bring the energy, passion and commitment who rise to the top.

Joe Black 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow! I have to admit that is one of the best post you have ever done (but then again you did set the bar pretty low. LOL)

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The article is not about Miles. It is about his opinion of the quality of the roster. Subtle, but different none the less.

With respect to opinions of the roster, "It’s how he (Beaty) almost personally destroyed the roster while he was also destroying the program" doesn't seem to be at all similar to "“a better talent base” than the one he led at OSU, and “I think you will see that this Kansas team is much more talented than their record shows.”

Maybe it's the sauce talking, but one of those comments sound negative and disdainful, while the other pair sounds optimistic and positive. Personally, I'll stick with the coaches. I'm not sure if they'll win or lose, but I am confident they won't quit and flee when faced with adversity.

Steven Haag 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Dirk, it does no good to try and reason with Brett, he’s beyond that. He points out parts of the Mikes narrative to meet his agenda.....hmmmm sounds familiar. The fact that we have BETTER talent speaks to the recruits that Beaty got. Pooka, Harris, Lee, etc. none were Juco’s. Most everybody can agree that Beaty was not a good coach.....that’s why he is gone. But to try and get Brett to say anything positive about the former coach that has left Miles with some serious talent is futile.

Brian Wilson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

SPOT ON STEVEN!!!

Beatty did do a good job of rebuilding the roster and preparing it for the next coach. In my honest opinion, I really do think Beatty was hired knowing there was a 90 percent chance of being fired at 4-5 years. Beatty fell on the sword, he took a really low salary and was paid a bonus when he met recruit and rebuild goals and had a few wins. KU made it's move and is now trying to not pay the bill.

The 2020 class is loaded with some of best Transfers that were available at the time and our younger group, Pooka and company have some talent. Just hoping....but KU might be ok-good from the get go

Len Shaffer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The question, of course, is how much credit Beaty gets for the recruiting. I mean, for example, aren't Pooka and Lee here because of Hull?

But yes, Beaty did bring in at least some good recruits. It's a shame that he didn't know what to do with them.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

And Hull is here (recruited) because of Coach Beaty.

While I won't disagree that Coach Beaty failed to successfully lead the program (mostly on game day), I would suggest it wasn't as much a lack of knowledge as it would appear on the surface, and it is Coach Miles' words in this article as well as AD Long.

“I can tell you it involves effort and energy, and the one thing I can say is I am not going to coach effort and energy.” (The players need to pursue those on their own so he can focus on more critical functions within his job.) “(If) I know they’re going to tackle, I know they’re going to block and I know that they’re going to have effort and energy,” he said, “I now can turn to the game plan and calls and make a difference. But we all have to commit first that we play with great effort and energy.”

I don't think "great effort and energy” was part of the culture, when Beaty got here, so he had to instill that in the players. I think he was successful in creating that culture, though unfortunately at the expense of "turn to the game plan and calls and make a difference."

This also comes into play when considering the support staff. I think there was an article last fall that identified KU as having 1 or 2 dozen fewer support staff to assist the coaches with all the other tasks that distract from "the game plan and calls and make a difference." Not only did Beaty start with half a roster, but also half a staff?

Ultimately, I think he failed to grow into the head coaching position, but I think it was a lot less about him and a lot more about the program provided around him.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Steven, While I would agree with you that Brett appears to be beyond reason, I would suggest to you that there is good in opposing ignorance.

There is an old saying that "to take no notice of a violent attack is to strengthen the hand of evil." I believe it is true, and therefore important to point out what is good and positive, and oppose what is ignorant and negative. If some others reconsider and choose not to wallow in the pig stye, then it does good.

Steven Haag 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Miles narrative, not Mikes. Sometimes I hate autocorrect.

Brad Avery 3 months, 2 weeks ago

6-6. Wins: Indiana State, Coastal Carolina, West Virginia (If Weis could do it...), K-State, Baylor, Iowa State.

Gary Wirsig 3 months, 2 weeks ago

On the lighter side, don't put a cap on our wins. On the serious side, do you really have us beating Iowa State this year? (I'll gladly eat crow if we do)

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Both at Baylor and at ISU.

I like our chances against TT at home better than either of those.

And I'll be ecstatic if we're bowl eligible.

Brian Wilson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Looking at it from the other direction I will be surprised if KU has less than 4 wins.

John Fitzgerald 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Still people in here talking about Beaty? Didn't he get fired?

Robert Brock 3 months, 2 weeks ago

KU wins its three non-cons and one Big 12 victory. 4-8. Not bad considering what a pitiful roster Miles inherited.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Robert - BC on the road might be more difficult than 3 of our conference home games though not necessarily disagreeing with 4-8. Hoping for 5-7.

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