Retirement didn’t suit Les Miles.
After a little more than two years of being away from college football, the former LSU head coach gladly reentered the work force at the University of Kansas this past November.
Asked recently why he dove back into working nonstop when he could be out golfing or relaxing, Miles explained the allure of coaching for him and other FBS head coaches in his age demographic who couldn’t give up the profession, such as North Carolina’s Mack Brown and Arizona State’s Herm Edwards.
“I think it’s the experience that you’ve had developing young players, making sure that they get their degree and bringing them to the field,” Miles said on the Big 12 coaches spring media teleconference. “I think that experience would draw a lot of people to it.”
Miles, who will turn 66 during his first season in charge of KU football, joked his line of work is “a little bit more fun” than going fishing.
“Maybe a little bit more fun than golf,” Miles noted, before adding, “not as fun as eating a lot. But I think the draw to that relationship with a team is tough to let go by.”
Dating back to his time as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan, in 1980, Miles spent more than a quarter century coaching at one level or another until LSU fired him four games into the 2016 season.
Miles, of course, became one of college football’s most famous coaches by the early 2000s. Miles and LSU capped the Tigers’ 2007 season with a national championship. He heads into his debut season at Kansas with a 142-55 career record as a head coach, over the course of 15-plus seasons at Oklahoma State and LSU.
Asked by one media member what had changed about coaching since he got started, Miles’ list was too long for a detailed response.
“Everything’s changed,” Miles replied. “The landscape, the recruiting calendar, the style of football. I mean, there’s a — that’s a broad-based question.”
Miles, 65, is one of a handful of head coaches among Power Five programs who is still hard at work in his 60s. Others in that category include, Mack Brown, North Carolina, 67; Nick Saban, Alabama, 67; Herm Edwards, Arizona State, 65; David Cutcliffe, Duke, 64; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 63; Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 63; and Lovie Smith, Illinois, 61.
During the 147th University of Kansas commencement this past weekend at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, 22 Jayhawks who have represented KU in uniform on the venue’s turf were celebrated as graduates.
While some of the program’s new grads already have completed their college football careers, nine are still active members who can help Miles’ team in some fashion this coming fall: left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, linebacker Denzel Feaster, safety Deante Ford, fullback Hudson Hall, defensive end Willie McCaleb, offensive lineman Clyde McCauley III, safety Shaq Richmond, quarterback Carter Stanley and “Hawk” Najee Stevens-McKenzie.
Nine other graduates played their final season in 2018: receiver Jeremiah Booker, defensive lineman J.J. Holmes, receiver Kerr Johnson Jr., safety Tyrone Miller Jr., safety Emmanuel Moore, receiver Zach Nachbar, linebacker Osaze Ogbebor, kicker Gabriel Rui and cornerback Shakial Taylor.
KU football’s list of 2019 graduates also included four former players who were forced to retire from the game for medical reasons: Mazin Aql, Jacob Bragg, Foster Dixson and Justin Williams.