ESPN broadcasters preach patience with KU's Les Miles during lopsided loss to OU
It can certainly be tough to find things to talk about on the broadcast during a blowout, which was the case in KU’s 62-9 loss to Oklahoma Saturday afternoon in Norman, Oklahoma.
At one point in the game, ESPN broadcasters Anish Shroff and Tom Luginbill had a conversation about frozen candy bars. And that discussion took place in the third quarter of a game that ultimately lasted a total of 3 hours, 46 minutes.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the conversation turned to a macro-view of the Kansas football program. In particular, Shroff and Luginbill provided their own opinion on what the Jayhawks (0-7, 0-6 Big 12) should do during a winless campaign in Year 2 of the Les Miles era.
The first of two such conversations on the broadcast took place after Gabe Brkic booted through a point-after-attempt to give the Sooners a 48-3 advantage with 14:54 left in the game.
"On the other sideline for Les Miles, Kansas (is) looking at 0-7,” said Shroff, who was the play-by-play broadcaster. “They are probably not going to win a game the rest of the way. An FPI underdog — and a big one — in their remaining games.”
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, KU’s best chance at a win over the final three games is against Texas Tech. Kansas has a 10.7% chance of victory in that road tilt in the regular-season finale.
The Jayhawks have just a 2.4% chance of victory against Texas in their first game back from a bye week and a 4.3% chance to defeat TCU on Nov. 28.
“But you chose Les Miles to be the guy for this program,” Shroff said. “The previous coaches who came after Mark Mangino were not given long leashes.”
Shroff went on to explain how Turner Gill was only given two years in 2010 and 2011, when the Jayhawks went 5-19 over that stretch. KU won six of its 22 games in two-plus years under Charlie Weis. David Beaty posted a 6-42 record in his four years at the helm.
“Whether you believe Les Miles is the guy or not, if you are the administration, you have to give him time,” Shroff said. “You chose him. Because this is not a quick fix, this is not a three-year turnaround."
Luginbill then agreed with Shroff’s assessment about having patience with Miles.
"You don't wave a magic wand here,” Luginbill said. “That's not how this works. If you are Jeff Long, the athletic director, you have got to take a page out of Indiana's playbook. You've got to take a page out of the Kentucky playbook.”
Let’s take a look at those playbooks, for comparison.
Indiana is currently 3-0 in its fourth season under head coach Tom Allen. The Hoosiers went 5-7 in each of Allen’s first two years before going 8-5 in 2019 and being ranked as high as No. 24. IU is currently ranked No. 10 in the coaches poll, which marks its highest ranking in that poll in program history.
Kentucky, meanwhile, is 2-4 this year under head coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats went 2-10 during Stoops’ first season in 2013, and failed to post a winning record until they went 7-6 in 2016. Kentucky posted four-straight winning seasons entering the 2020 campaign.
“If Kansas is going to attempt to do this through the high-school ranks, which I think is smart, then that's not going to happen overnight,” Luginbill said.
As of now, that seems to be the approach that Miles is taking with this team. It has led to a young roster, as 60.4% of KU’s overall roster is underclassmen. That mark ranks 27th in the country and is third in the Big 12.
That inexperience certainly was on display against a perennial Big 12 powerhouse like Oklahoma, which ultimately led to some big-picture conversations by the broadcast crew when they weren’t talking about candy bars.
Still, it is probably something to keep in mind as the 2020 season comes to a close over the next month.
Scoring breakdown by Kansas since 2010
Points for: 106 total points (15.1 PPG, 115th of 123 teams)
Points against: 339 total points (48.4 PPG, 121st of 123 teams)
Points for: 282 total points (23.5 PPG, 101st of 130)
Points against: 433 total points (36.1 PPG, 120th of 130)
Points for: 286 total points (23.8 PPG, 106th of 130)
Points against: 360 total points (30.0 PPG, 82nd of 130)
Points for: 224 total points (18.7 PPG, 120th of 130)
Points against: 521 total points (43.4 PPG, 129th of 130)
Points for: 243 total points (20.2 PPG, 120th of 128)
Points against: 448 total points (37.3 PPG, 114th of 128)
Points for: 183 total points (15.2 PPG, 123rd of 128)
Points against: 553 total points (46.1 PPG, 128th of 128)
Points for: 214 total points (17.8 PPG, 118th of 128)
Points against: 399 total points (33.2 PPG, 106th of 128)
Points for: 184 total points (15.3 PPG, 120th of 125)
Points against: 382 total points (31.8 PPG, 94th of 125)
Points for: 219 total points (18.2 PPG, 118th of 124)
Points against: 433 total points (36.1 PPG, 112th of 124)
Points for: 268 total points (22.3 PPG, 95th of 120)
Points against: 525 total points (43.8 PPG, 120th of 120)
Points for: 205 total points (17.1 PPG, 111th of 120)
Points against: 413 total points (34.4 PPG, 103rd of 120)