Just two days after University of Kansas athletic director Jeff Long informed David Beaty he wouldn’t be around for another season, the idea of Les Miles becoming Beaty’s replacement is beginning to seem more feasible.
Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and The Athletic reported Tuesday a source told him “a lot of momentum” exists for Miles to become the program’s next head coach. What’s more, according to the report, Miles has emerged as a “frontrunner.”
Later in the day, Tim Brando, national commentator for FOX Sports, posted on Twitter that he spoke with Miles Monday night and their conversation led Brando to “feel confident that he embraces coming to KU big time.”
Brando, who began working with Miles at FOX when the former LSU coach began dabbling in broadcasting in 2017, also pointed to Miles’ decades-old relationship with Long. For a six-year stretch beginning in the late 1980s, both worked at Michigan — Long as an assistant athletic director and Miles as an offensive line coach.
Brando characterized their connection as “strong,” adding the “credibility factor is huge.”
When someone replied to Brando’s post, doubting Miles’ ability to win at KU, a program that has experienced nothing but three-, two-, one- and zero-win seasons since Mark Mangino left nearly a decade ago, Brando didn’t hold back.
“You couldn’t be more wrong,” Brando replied, pointing to Miles’ time as Oklahoma State coach (2001-04).
“He’ll recruit Texas better than (it’s) ever been recruited at KU,” Brando added.
Of course, Miles’ reported $9.6 million buyout from LSU in 2016 included a stipulation that he must seek another college coaching job. So it remains to be seen what type of fire exists beneath all this Miles to KU smoke.
Miles has a 142-55 career coaching record and won the national championship at LSU with a 12-2 season in 2007. Miles turns 65 next week.
Discerning which candidates are actually interested in KU football job a potential challenge for Jeff Long
Once University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long made football coach David Beaty’s forthcoming dismissal official on Sunday afternoon, Long said he began hearing from “a number” of parties who wanted to let him know about coaches interested in KU’s job opening.
Whether the list of candidates he’s considering is narrow or extensive at this point, Long knows one of the many challenges he will encounter between now and identifying KU’s next football will be gauging just how serious someone is about actually accepting the job.
“Many times,” Long said, “coaches will express interest simply to pad the situation they’re in.”
In his previous stops as an AD, Long hired Dave Wannstedt at Pittsburgh, and Bobby Petrino and Bret Bielema at Arkansas. Plus, he has worked as an athletics administrator for more than 20 years. So Long knows of coaches who used one university’s job search to negotiate a raise from their current employer.
The most difficult part of the process, Long admitted, can be figuring out “who’s really interested in your job and who’s just playing the game.”
Long might have to flex his sleuthing muscles more than ever now that he’s at KU. College football coaches know how irrelevant Kansas has been since Mark Mangino left, as well as how bad the Jayhawks were before he arrived and went 50-48 from 2002-09.
Feigning interest in KU’s now-open head coaching job in order to renegotiate and extend an already existing contract elsewhere could appeal to some more than becoming the Kansas coach.
Then there’s the unique case of Les Miles, easily the biggest name associated with this search. When LSU fired him in 2016, one stipulation of the reported $9.6 million buyout was that Miles must seek another college football job.
So if Miles were to express interest in KU, he could do so without ever accepting the job and continue to be paid by LSU.
Speaking generally about trying to discern true candidates from pretenders, Long said: “Sometimes, you never know until the ink is on the contract.”