Why one college football expert thinks KU football will struggle in Les Miles' 1st season
As optimistic as Les Miles has professed to be regarding the talent level of his first team at the University of Kansas, the one-time national championship winning coach undoubtedly is undertaking as massive of a rebuilding project as exists in college football.
In Miles’ 15 full seasons as a head coach — four at Oklahoma State and 11 at LSU — he averaged 9.3 wins a year and 3.5 losses. The KU football program has experienced nine or more wins in a season six times since its inception in 1890.
Every year administrators who run some Power Five programs attempt to reboot by firing the current head football coach and finding a replacement they envision turning the team’s fortunes around. Among the men hired to do so since the end of the 2018 season, Miles’ task might be more daunting than most.
While discussing recently on the “AP Top 25 College Football” podcast which head coaches entering their first year in new situations have their work cut out for them, Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and The Athletic painted a darker picture of what may await the Jayhawks this coming fall than many of the program’s supporters would like to see.
“David Beaty won three games last year,” Feldman began, referencing KU’s 3-9 finish in 2018, its best mark in four years. “I think Les Miles is going to struggle to win three games.”
Why the pessimism for Miles in Year 1 of what The Mad Hatter hopes will be a successful longterm renovation?
“He’s not working with anything close to what he’s used to from his LSU days,” Feldman said. “I mean, it’s the complete opposite.”
Outside of KU’s nine Big 12 games on the schedule the Jayhawks will face Indiana State (Aug. 31) and Coastal Carolina (Sept. 7) at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium before playing their nonconference finale at Boston College (Sept. 13) on a short week.
“I think they’re going to beat Indiana State and Coastal Carolina,” Feldman predicted. “But then they’ve got to go to BC, who’s not great, but they’re not terrible. And it’s on the road, so I think they’ll probably struggle.”
This past season, Boston College finished 7-5 and spent four weeks ranked in the AP Top 25. The Eagles went 5-2 at Alumni Stadium, in Chestnut Hill, Mass., with their home defeats coming to eventual national champion Clemson and a nationally ranked Syracuse team.
So if KU were to open Miles’ debut season 2-1, there must be some victory for the Jayhawks in Big 12 play if they’re going to add a third win. Who might they beat?
“To me probably their best bet to get to three wins is probably their opener in the Big 12,” Feldman projected. “They have West Virginia visiting.”
The way Feldman sees it, new head coach Neal Brown’s first year at WVU won’t be easy, either. While the Mountaineers won seven or more games in eight of the nine seasons that Dana Holgorsen was in charge, Feldman pointed out Holgorsen left for Houston just when the WVU program was losing some of its most talented players.
Other than KU and WVU, Feldman went on, he doesn’t think there will be any other teams in the Big 12 this year that are “really, really bad.”
Feldman and the podcast’s host, Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press, speculated that Scott Satterfield at Louisville and Mike Locksley at Maryland have challenging rebuilds on their hands, as well.
Though while discussing the Terrapins’ situation, Feldman opined that Locksley is inheriting better players than Brown at WVU and “way better” players than what Miles has inherited at KU.
2019 KU Football Schedule
Aug. 31 — Indiana State
Sept. 7 — Coastal Carolina
Sept. 13 — at Boston College
Sept. 21 — West Virginia
Sept. 28 — at TCU
Oct. 5 — Oklahoma
Oct. 12 — bye
Oct. 19 — at Texas
Oct. 26 — Texas Tech
Nov. 2 — Kansas State
Nov. 9 — bye
Nov. 16 — at Oklahoma State
Nov. 23 — at Iowa State
Nov. 30 — Baylor