While Les Miles is in the early stages of rebooting his football coaching career at the University of Kansas, this weekend served as a reminder of how important Miles was for the LSU program.
The KU coach and his family spent the past few days in their former home state as they celebrated Miles being inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The second-winningest coach in LSU history, Miles, who went 114-34 while leading the Tigers for a little more than 11 seasons, said at a press conference for the hall of fame event, in Natchitoches, La., that the players he coached in Baton Rouge, La., all those years made his success possible.
“Any time that you take the field with a guy who’s willing to give you great effort and energy at risk of injury you’re in their debt. And I promise you I am humbled, I promise you that I am honored,” Miles said, adding he expects some of those Tigers will one day join him in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. “Some men that lined up and fought for victory with me, and I’m in their debt.”
Inducted Saturday night, along with legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, whose football prowess was first on display in Manning’s hometown of New Orleans as a high school star, and nine other honorees, part of the ceremony included a question and answer session on stage.
During his time in the spotlight, Miles was asked which team he’d rather defeat, Alabama or Oklahoma.
Playfully gauging the temperature of the audience, Miles said in a video posted by KTAL sports that he could tell it was an SEC partisan crowd and he wouldn’t make the mistake of answering the question incorrectly.
“Here’s the truth,” Miles added. “We want to face that team that’s highest ranked, and we want to win. Right now the only chance for me to get to Alabama is to do a great job where I’m at. And I’d like to get to Alabama yet again myself.”
Miles, of course, would have had more chances to face Alabama had he remained a coach in the SEC. But LSU fired Miles four games into the 2016 season, after a 2-2 start.
During his hall of fame press conference session, Miles was asked by one reporter about what he had going on prior to taking over at Kansas. The question included the phrase “you got out of coaching,” and that’s where Miles decided to take the opportunity to joke about how his time at LSU concluded.
“I just want you to know: I never got out of coaching. No, no, no, no. They just said in a very polite and wonderful way, ‘You know, when you step through this door it will be locked on the way back’” a teasing Miles offered. “Because if they would’ve said to me, ‘You get to stay if you want,’ I’d have shown some other people the door, not me.”
Only Charlie McClendon (137-59-7 with the Tigers, from 1962-79) won more games at LSU than Miles.
Miles is the only coach in LSU history to beat Auburn, Florida and Alabama in same season, pulling it off three times.
The Tigers capped their 2007 season, Miles’ third in charge, as national champions. They reached the national title game again after the 2011 season, falling to Alabama.