Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Tom Keegan: How old is Les Miles? Who cares?

LSU head coach Les Miles is carried off the field after an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. LSU won 19-7. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

LSU head coach Les Miles is carried off the field after an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. LSU won 19-7. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)


Free agent football coach Les Miles’ age seems to be a concern for some who wonder if it’s a reason for Kansas to pass on hiring him.

I assume they mean that he’s too young because fans have had it to here with watching KU get hammered by football coaches older than theirs.

Miles turns 65 Saturday.

Ohio coach Frank Solich blasted Kansas in consecutive years recently by a combined score of 79-51 at the ages of 72 and 73.

Bill Snyder puts his nine-game winning streak vs. Kansas on the line Saturday in Manhattan at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Snyder was 70 when the streak started.

In the wake of Mark Mangino’s forced resignation, KU has hired a succession of youngsters, at least compared to the coaches feasting on the Jayhawks.

Turner Gill was 47 when he explained why he took the Kansas job after going 20-30 at Buffalo.

“I’m not coming here to use it as a stepping stone to a football dynasty, but rather to create a football dynasty here at KU,” Gill said. “I hope to be here 15 or 20 years, because if I’m here 15 or 20 years, that will mean we have done well.”

His dynastic ambitions fell 13 or 18 years short, and he was fired with a 5-19 record.

Next, Kansas turned to Charlie Weis, 10 years younger than Miles turns Saturday.

“I really wasn’t concerned with being a head coach to be honest with you,” Weis said at his introductory press conference. “I wasn’t concerned with it one bit.”

Then, when a contract guaranteeing him $12.5 million over five years was tossed at him, he liked the idea. He alluded to another possible motivation for taking the job. His grand plan was to turn Kansas into a winner, and then after about five years, turn the program over to a less expensive coach, his son Charlie Jr. (He now is the youngest offensive coordinator in the FBS, working for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic).

Zenger said he talked to “multiple” people about Weis before hiring him, estimating the number to be, “five to 10,” the latter estimate twice as high as the first. Zenger also said something that day that revealed how little he knew the coach.

“In meeting coach Weis, just from today, I I sat down with him and I found someone I didn’t expect to see. And that was a little humbling for me, as well. I’ve enjoyed him, and I think you’ll enjoy him, too.”

I did enjoy Weis, although I’m certain the feeling wasn’t mutual. He gave great press conferences.

Current Kansas AD Jeff Long knows Miles better than Zenger knew Weis. Long and Miles worked together at Michigan for 10 years.

He lasted two games shy of halfway through his contract and was canned with a 6-22 record.

Kansas went even younger, hiring David Beaty, then 44.

At his introductory news conference, Beaty misused a word in saying, “My condolences to the selection committee.” Weis coached at Notre Dame, but it’s Beaty who is a modern-day Nostradamus.

Beaty, liked by his players, was told Sunday that his job will end when the season does. He’s 6-39. The younger the coach in the post-Mangino era, the worse the winning percentage.

Since turning 65, Rocky Long’s record at San Diego State is 49-11.

Sure, Miles is two years and 11 days younger than college football’s best coach, Nick Saban, but that’s no reason not to hire him.

Miles has coached 15 full seasons and one partial one. His only one with a losing record was his first at Oklahoma State (2001). He won a national title for LSU in 2007, and in 2011, suffered his first loss in the BCS Championship game.

Miles was fired after going 19-10 in his final two-and-a-third seasons, marred by substandard quarterback play. Miles is far from the only candidate with experience as a head coach who would upgrade the KU football program in a major way.

Tulane’s Willie Fritz, 58, Seth Littrell, 40, of North Texas, and Toledo’s Jason Candle, 38, all are equipped to upgrade the Kansas football program in a major way, and I can’t think of anything more irrelevant than their ages.


Brett McCabe 4 years ago

Lots of comments on this site about Miles' age and I never understood them. Paul McCartney just released a critically-acclaimed album at 76. Age is just a number.

I've had two questions regarding Miles' possible candidacy for the job: Are we doing it for the right reasons? Would he be doing it for the right reasons?

Are we hiring him for impact or for sustained effort and excellence? And what's at the core of his interest (assuming there is interest)?

If Jeff Long can discern that Miles really wants to build this program. Then there really isn't a valid argument against him. Let's just hope Long does a better job in his next news conference in treating KU fans with a little more respect than he did in his last one. It's getting old.

Matt Tait 4 years ago

Egypt Station is an absolute gem, too, Brett. It might not be Band on the Run and Ram good, but it's McCartney at his modern best. Love it!

Brian Wilson 4 years ago

Correct me if I am wrong. Just recently LJW posted an article that said Miles was still due $9.6 million dollars from LSU and that if Miles goes back to coaching he has to go back coaching college ball.

I'm not really sure how demanding he has to coach for a college is legal, but ok, however, doesn't that mean that if KU hires Miles, then Miles would no longer get paid the $9.6 million.

Would that not mean KU would have to hire Miles for more than $9.6 MILLION DOLLARS in order to make it worth while for Miles to come out of retirement?

If so.....I can't see how he is worth it. Hire Fritz, or Rebowe, or some other successful up and comer for a third the price. Someone hungry to win, that knows how to win, to build a program, with a track record for recruiting and recruiting local kids.

Frederick Heckel 4 years ago

And that is how you end up with Beaty 2.0. Go cheap again and see what happens to KU football. They will be on the exact same level as Wichita St football. That level being 6 feet under.

Greg Ledom 4 years ago

Agree Frederick. I will say that Brian’s very last sentence is exactly what we are after.

Brett Hathaway 4 years ago

Doesn't Fritz's record at Tulane register, not really what we are looking for are we? Looks like a lateral move.. And Rebowe? Maybe if this were the Emporia State football program. Not really shooting for the stars are we?

Mike Hart 4 years ago

Here is why age matters when it comes to Les Miles. His offense never evolved with eh times. He can recruit at powerhouse LSU... but he got fired for his underachieving offenses. Take 2012 for example. His offense was ranked 93rd in the country and the passing game was 95th in the country. Guess who he had on offense that year? RBs were Jeremy Hill (Bengals), Spencer Ware (Chiefs), Alfred Blue (Texans). His WR Corp? JARVIS LANDRY and ODELL BECKHAM. That’s All you need to know about Les Miles and today’s offenses...

Frederick Heckel 4 years ago

You think he hasn't figured out that he needs to adapt his offense to the new college football? Idiots like Beaty don't learn from their mistakes. Smart coaches like Miles do. He will bring in a great OC to help him with that. All he would need to do is find a good QB.

Joe Black 4 years ago

Not according to his track record.

Mike Hart 4 years ago

It's not what I think, Frederick.. it's the facts. Les Miles inherited LSU from Nick Saban in 2005... after Saban had the #1 defense for LSU.. and the #28 offense that was 49th in passing. After Les Miles won a national championship (2007 season), LSU passing offense ranking by years: 2008 - 71st, 2009 - 96th, 2010 - 102nd, 2011 - 108th, 2012 - 95th, 2013 - 54th, 2014 - 118th, 2015 - 103rd. So you tell me... 4 out of his last 6 years as HC at LSU, Miles led a top 5 recruiting program to a passing offense that was ranked no better than 102nd in division 1 football. So no, I would guess he didn't learn how to hire and field a power house offense. Over the last 5 years... the passing game has EXPLODED In college football... all while Les had his LSU tigers ranked 103rd in passing during his last season at LSU,.. when got the boot the following season after starting 2-2 despite having 3 straight years of recruiting classes ranked 2nd, 5th, 2nd. If he can't get it done with top tier recruits at a hotbed like LSU, you expect him to get it done at Kansas? Let's look at the offensive coordinators that Les Miles hired and where they are now. (1) Gary Crowton - LSU OC from 2007-2010... he became OC at Maryland in 2011, where he was fired after one season, then became OC for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in CFL, then the OC at Southern Utah, then at Stephen F Austin.. and now an OC for Pine View High School in Utah. (2) Greg Studrawa - LSU OC from 2011-2012... then on as OL coach at Maryland and now at Ohio State. (3) Cam Cameron - OC from 2013-2016... was fired... and is out of football.

Jim Stauffer 4 years ago

I would up my contribution for a guy who could bring those guys you mentioned to KU, Mike. Yes, he failed offensively. Yes, he was stubborn offensively. But I would give a lot to see the kind of play they had at LSU while he coached there. Also at Okie Light. The difference in teams coached by Miles and the guys we have had since MM is they know how to play FB. They block and tackle like real players. We haven't had an offense that attacks the defense in years. At least we will be able to run the ball with Les here.

Bryan Mohr 4 years ago

What has Miles proven at a non-powerhouse program? How do you think other coaching candidates would fare with the talent Miles had at LSU? That's why Miles should NOT be KU's choice. KU needs to look at the past 20 years and realize they need to hire the best COACH, not big name, or wishful recruiting. The fact is all KU fans know a guy that has proven he can win at KU... and he is available. Why gamble on Miles, Frisk, or Candle when Mangino is available? Offer him a contract. He won't be worse than the past 9 years, and he may be as good as 12-1.

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years ago

Oh my God lets cut the Mangino crap for Christ sake he's not coming back. You Mangino disciples seem to think that as soon as he's hired back poof things will go back to the way things were, going to bowl games getting the same recruits, you have to be kidding me. Mangino is like an old girlfriend, there were problems and you broke up you start thinking about the relationship you get back together and guess what the same problems will eventually resurface that caused the break up in the first place. Let's just stop the big guy love, not going to happen, he hasn't been hired as a head coach on any level since he left, so what does that tell you? Please stop.

Jim Stauffer 4 years ago

Or he may be what he was when he left here. 5-7 with an attitude that even the players could not live with, let alone the AD. Forget that idea.

Kevin Robert Fest 4 years ago

Thank you Jim. Time to end this delusional thinking.

John Strayer 4 years ago

Yes Mangino won at KU...but one point everyone misses is the downward trajectory at KU started while Mangino was still here. The lost of certain assistants took its toll on the recruiting trail...KU started losing talent while Mangino was still here.

Andy Tweedy 4 years ago

He's the best hire available, which is why he's been such a successful head coach after his time here!!! Wait...nobody else has hired him? HE'S NEVER COMING BACK!

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

So what Les Miles did at Oklahoma State doesn't count as program building then?

Bryan Mohr 4 years ago

What Mangino did at KU, 12-1 Orange Bowl, is far more impressive than what Miles did at LSU. LSU is always good at football, with or without Miles. The same is not true about a Mangino-less KU.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

Bryan, did you know that Les Miles is the only coach in LSU history to have consecutive 10+ win seasons? Also, go look at LSU's history pre Nick Saban, there's not a lot to brag about in that history.

Bryan Mohr 4 years ago

Hire a Snyder disciple, not Miles.

Fred Davis 4 years ago

Here's the one thing Mr. Keegan didn't include when mentioning other older coaches who have had success at their current places - they aren't rebuilding the worst program in the FBS. That's the difference.

Sure, Frank Solich is 73, but he's been at Ohio since 2005. Snyder, who probably needs to step down in his own right, has been back in Manhattan since 2009 in his latest iteration.

Here's the thing about Les Miles - and I get it, he's a name, he won a title at LSU, and there's this misnomer that he "rebuilt" Oklahoma State before leaving to go to LSU. Listen, Oklahoma won 30 games in five years before Les got there, not great, but our Boy Beaty will finish with what, Seven wins if we're lucky in five years? That's a rebuild. And then about Les being such a great recruiter? It's LSU - Ray Charles could recruit LSU and win 8 games every year with just the talent in the state and oh by the way - you've got Houston a few hours away which has the biggest concentration of LSU Alums in the country. Ask Dorance Armstrong how many good football players there are in Houston.

My point is this - I'm not doubting that Les Miles is a good head coach. But --> At the start of next football season, barring any changes, he'd be the SEVENTH oldest coach in the FBS. Kansas isn't Louisiana and KC aint Houston. And for good measure, his offenses and lack of a QB were the reasons he was fired from LSU. How's that gonna work in the Big 12? Oh, he adapted you say? So with annual Top Five recruiting classes and an endless budget for football, he coudn't figure out a way to find a QB or an OC, but two years away from the game and suddenly he's Sean McVey when he gets to KU? Doubt it. The dude is called the Mad Hatter for a reason.

So while the name is great, my question is this - does Les Miles, at 65, have the ENERGY and open-mindedness offensively to rebuild Kansas. Thats the only question I have. I'm not worried about how long he'll be here, that's irrelevant. But those first 2-3 years are huge and with the TV deals ending in a few years, Kansas MUST position itself with a credible football program because we don't want to get left on the outside looking in. I'm not saying Miles is Weis 2.0, because that's an insult to Les. But let's dig a little deeper than the HE WON A TITLE AND CAN RECRUIT and start comparing apples to apples before a final decision is made.

Andy Tweedy 4 years ago

I'm only speaking for myself, but I'd prefer Doeren over any of these guys, but I don't see it happening. And Miles is the only totally proven name on the list that I see. I'm quite sure Monken, etc can coach, but the resume would have told you Terry Allen could coach, too. I'm just not excited about any of those other names. If we hire Miles, my optimism will return.

Kirk Garrett 4 years ago

I’m more impressed with Littrell than Doeren. I’d take either, but expect neither to give it more than a moment’s thought.

Mike Hart 4 years ago

Hey Fred... this is Beaty's 4th and final season.. not 5.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

If recruiting and winning at LSU was so easy, then why didn't LSU become a true power until Saban arrived. Les Miles was also the first coach in LSU history to have consecutive 10+ win seasons. Consistency was never a thing at LSU until Saban and Miles arrived.

Robert Brock 4 years ago

David Beaty was wildly unqualified to be the head coach at KU or any P5 university, for that matter. Any of the coaches mentioned by Keegan would be a great upgrade over a pitiful coach like Beaty.

I remember what Les Miles did for Oklahoma State. I don’t know if he has any real interest in taking over a wretched, sad-sack program like KU’s, but it would be a lot of fun to see what he could do.

Jim Stauffer 4 years ago

Good post, Fred. You make all the pertinent points that must be considered. The good thing for us is Long knows him well. They can have a real discussion about what is needed. About the deficiencies Les suffered from at LSU. About the challenges of this Job and its location. Then they can both make an educated decision as to whether he is the right guy for the job. Les is going to coach again if he wishes to so he does not have to take the KU job. He can choose where he wants to coach. Long does not have to hire Les to get a good coach. He can choose the person he believes is best suited for this particular task.

Mike Hart 4 years ago

Really? Les has interviewed for... and not found a job for several programs since LSU fired him. In Jan 2017, Les in a TV interview said he would be "open to the Western Michigan job if it was offered". It went to Tim Lester. He interviewed for the Minnesota Golden Gophers job in 2017 and lost out to PJ Fleck. Les Miles interviewed for Baylor and lost out to Matt Rhule. Nebraska showed no interest in 2017-18. Miles lost out to Major Applewhite at Houston. Despite saying he was "extremely interested" in the Ole Miss HC position after Hugh Freeze resigned... they went with Matt Luke instead. We heard about Les Miles being interested in Oregon State in 2017... they went with Jonathan Smith. Les Miles was linked to Purdue in 2017.. they opted for Jeff Brohm. Then there was Tennessee in Nov 2017... when Les said he was also "extremely interested". They hired Jeremy Pruitt. Most recently, Les interviewed for and lost out to Kevin Sumlin at Arizona in Jan 2018. Les Miles wasn't the right fit for any of these programs according to these programs.. the real question is... Why is he a good fit for Kansas?

Fred Davis 4 years ago

Mike - Excellent way of putting it -- here's another article detailing what really isn's being said and why if this many programs have said no - then Jeff Long and KU need to do the same....

Jeff Kallmeyer 4 years ago

Another concern with Miles would be the quality of his coaching staff. Could he assemble a top notch staff after not being a head coach for a relatively long period?

Phil Leister 4 years ago

Are you Mangino? Or a family member of his or something? Give it a rest. It. Is. Not. Happening.

Doug Wallace 4 years ago

Bryan Dude please move on past Mangino already!

[''] 4 years ago

You think Les Miles will come in here and put in long hours? Laughable. Marvin Hagler once said, "It's hard to wake up at 5am to go run when you're living in a mansion." 65 years old with nothing to prove.

Charlie Weis ...the 2019 version.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Kirk Garrett 4 years ago

Does Nick Saban have anything else to prove?

I think getting hit in the head possibly takes a greater toll on one’s willingness to continue than leading a team from the sideline.

Joe Black 4 years ago

Saban doesn't even have to work hard anymore. The name recognition of Alabama and Saban recruits itself at this point in time. Don't get me wrong, he is a great coach but he would have the energy to turn KU around and wouldn't even try.

Kirk Garrett 4 years ago

Yeah Saban doesn’t work hard anymore. Yeah.

Brad Avery 4 years ago

Bill Snyder is 77, I believe. Since he returned to coaching 2009, his record is 71-48. a winning percentage of .60 percent. When he took over the K-State program again, it was almost as bad as KU is now. I'd take a ,600 winning percentage for 10 years.

Andy Tweedy 4 years ago

I'd take a .500 record after what we've been through the last decade!

Mike Hart 4 years ago

Brad, that is absolutely not true. Snyder went 4-7 and 5-6 in his last 2 seasons before leaving K-State (2004-2005). Then Ron Prince came in and went as follows:

2006: 7-6.... went to the Texas Bowl 2007: 5-7 2008: 5-7

Ron Prince inherited a team from Bill Snyder that went 9-13 in Snyder's last two years... and Prince coached K-State to a combined record of 17-20.. where their WORST record was 5-7... how on EARTH does that compare to the last 8 years of the KU football program??? 17-20 is hardly a football program in shambles. "Almost as bad as KU is now"... hysterical.

Kirk Garrett 4 years ago

Tom Keegan’s articles will be missed. By comparison, everyone else writing about KU sports has a learning disability.

Joe Black 4 years ago

Great post by Fred Davis. That is a well thought out reaction to Keegan's half thought out article concerning Miles as the coach. Keegan must just be phoning it in at this point.

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