Monday, November 26, 2018

Les Miles thinks KU football can win in his first year on the job

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.

Newly hired University of Kansas football coach Les Miles speaks to the media Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Hadl Auditorium.


As Les Miles looks ahead to Year 1 of the massive rebuilding project he agreed to take on when he signed a five-year contract to coach the Kansas football team, he doesn’t appear to be a man ready to temper his expectations.

Speaking on the latest episode of his “Les Is More” podcast for The Players’ Tribune, Miles reflected on his first season as a head coach, back in 2001. At the time, Oklahoma State football had not yet taken off. The Cowboys were 3-7 entering their finale, when they closed Miles’ first year in charge by knocking off their rival, Oklahoma, a team ranked in the top five.

“It really started the run at Oklahoma State,” Miles recalled. ‘We would like to have that kind of success in our first year at Kansas.”

Just getting started at KU, Miles said in order to pull that off in 2019, he and his coaching staff will have to pave the road for success with their first recruiting class.

“I think it’s a challenge, but I think it’s something we can do,” Miles said. “I think we will win in the first year.”

Miles revealed he spent much of his time in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday calling and texting with recruits. Of course, KU will be able to engage potential signees even more once Miles has a coaching staff in place and his coordinators and assistants can get out on the road to visit with players and their families.

This past week, with college football’s regular season still in progress, Miles explained he could only do so much in terms of assembling his first Kansas staff. At that time of year, he said, coaches aren’t concerned about anything other than preparing for the final game on their schedule.

So Miles called potential candidates, both coordinators and position candidates, just to touch base with them and let them know he would want to speak with them further this week, once they have more free time and aren’t engrossed in game planning.

Once the staff is in place, Miles indicated he plans for KU’s coaches to make a push for nearby recruits.

“I think there’s talent right outside our door,” Miles said, “and we have to get there, make our case and say, ‘Hey, do you want to do something special? Do you want to play for your hometown? Do you want to play for that state that you were raised in? Do you want to make it easy for your friends and family to see you play?’”

A three-star cornerback from St. Thomas Aquinas, Jayden Russell, the top uncommitted prospect in the Sunflower State’s Class of 2019, told Jayhawk Slant he will visit KU this coming weekend.

KU football, of course, hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009, the final year of the Mark Mangino era.

This job, Miles realizes, won’t be anything like when he took over at LSU in 2005 and he could just “step in and go” with one of the nation’s top programs.

As he gets the lay of the land in the weeks ahead, Miles said he plans to let KU’s seniors-to-be and returning leaders describe their culture, and he’ll interact with them and provide advice.

“This is what you want, this is what you don’t want,” Miles said of how those conversations will go. “Those meetings take time, where they get to know me and I get to know them.”

Miles recorded the podcast with his daughter, Smacker, on Wednesday, in Louisiana. He was expected to return to Lawrence on Monday.


Kevin Robert Fest 3 years, 7 months ago

Beaty won this year. How many are we talking about Les? Bowl eligible would be a good start. But a clear sign of progress would be as well

Robert Brock 3 years, 7 months ago

Miles is crazy if he truly believes KU can win six or more games his first season. But I do LOVE his confidence! We could use some swagger.

David Kemp 3 years, 7 months ago

A good coach and coaching staff this year along with a decent qb could have won 6 games.

John Strayer 3 years, 7 months ago

Exactly...good coaching should have won probably 2 more games this year...the KSU game for sure....and the first game of the year against Nicholls State.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

I see.... we lost to KSU because of coaching. So the two holding penalties on Pooka's 60 yard run... and Khalil Herbert's 74 yard run... were coaching mistakes. Peyton Bender bringing his arm back to throw and having the ball slip out of his hand was a coaching mistake. Mavin Saunders trying to hide the official's flag drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty...that was bad coaching. Kwamie Lassiter dropping a wide open bomb that would have been a TD.. that was apparently a bad play call. The players on offense didn't execute. Dropped passes... penalties.. Bender dropping the ball bringing his arm back on the last drive. The one nice thing about Beaty being gone... is that I won't have to listen to this "It's all the coach's fault" crap again. Beaty wasn't the greatest coach for sure... but this diatribe has gotten really old.

Armen Kurdian 3 years, 7 months ago

Mike has a point, but only to a degree. If it were just one game, I think he'd be right, but since this kind of thing happens over & over, a continuous foot-shooting epidemic where we do just enough to lose a game at some point has to come down to player discipline which comes back to coaching. Good teams just don't make that many individual mistakes.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 7 months ago

Where did you see that he expects to win 6 or more? The only thing I've seen said he thinks we can win but no number of wins was indicated.

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 7 months ago

Some reading comprehension is in order here. He spoke of an OSU team that was 3-7 and won No. 4 against arch rival and No. 5 ranked OU. Then said, I think we can have that kind of season at KU. By win he means to win some games, maybe even games not expected to be victories and be better than expectations. He hopes to be at least 4-7 with a surprise win or two by those comments.

[''] 3 years, 7 months ago

Coach, please call David Gibbs from Texas Tech ASAP and hire him as DC! He made great strides this year for a bad TxTech team - and has been a KU coach before.

[''] 3 years, 7 months ago

PS - here's a thought...hear me out....hire current Buffalo HC and offensive genius Lance Leipold RIGHT NOW as OC and HC in waiting. He takes over for Les in 5 years. Dude makes $250K now. Pay him $1M per as OC. He has perennial craphole Buffalo at 10-2 this year -- and when he was at midwest school Wisc-Whitewater the guy went 109-6 with 6 Natl Championship in 8 years there - I know I know, granted, it was Div 3 but..cmooonnnn..those are gawdy #'s.

Titus Canby 3 years, 7 months ago

We have a great track record with coaches from Buffalo.

[''] 3 years, 7 months ago

Haha Good point Titus. Lance is 1000 times the coach Gill is/was. Gill was too damn busy trying to turn players into Jesus lovin', bible thumpin' boys than football players. That's why he failed.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 7 months ago

Lance Leipold sounds interesting, Ron. I like how low profile the coaching search has been. I don't like seeing a lot of speculation out there But I do hope the positions are filled asap so Miles can get some help recruiting.

Steven Haag 3 years, 7 months ago

I think some are taking his quote out of context. I am going to post the actual verbiage from the post, then comment:

Just getting started at KU, Miles said in order to pull that off in 2019, he and his coaching staff will have to pave the road for success with their first recruiting class.

“I think it’s a challenge, but I think it’s something we can do,” Miles said. “I think we will win in the first year.”

He was talking about O-State having 3 wins entering their finale against OU and they pulled off the upset. He then said, “ That really started the run at OSU”. Nowhere does it imply 6 wins in year one. My “interpretation” is that with a good recruiting class, they could pull off a big upset, have 3 or 4 wins and that could “really start the run at KU”.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 7 months ago

We have 3 wins this year and in spite of Kevin's astonishing opening sentence the comments during the season were generally that the program was a total failure.

If we only improve by 1 win with a NC coach and twice the salary, I would consider that a failure.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 7 months ago

Again, look at the challenge. This year? Easiest non-con in the country. Still just went 2-1. Next year, we add a P5 non-con team, on the road. We also have been left with, essentially, zero recruits and about 3 weeks to fix it, so adding any immediate impact (read Pooka) will be tough.

4 wins next year would be a solid performance. And, if we can win 4, then we can win 6 because you are essentially saying: win the cupcakes and beat the lower tier of the Big 12 (with or without BC). Four wins won't excite, but it would be a solid step forward given the comparative schedule strength.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

Why do you insist on saying the we have just 3 weeks to fix it? Dec is the EARLY signing period... EARLY.

Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

I agree Dirk. 4 wins seems like a lowball number. The team has enough talent to win 5 games. They should be as good or better talent wise as they were this year. The Big 12 has beatable teams. No reason to not expect 5 plus wins. This isn't like the last coaching change. Players aren't leaving the program at an alarming arming rate and many key contributors return to a competitive team. KU has 1 recruit but it's not like they don't have a board full of potential prospects who some on the retained coaching staff will be able to snag. The whole recruiting deal is overblown to me. Program is in fine shape. Les has a chance to add 15 quality recruits to an already good team is how I look at it.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 7 months ago

Benton - I would disagree with your opening premise that there is a massive rebuild necessary. Massive only if the perspective has totally changed to championships.

I think Dineen was the player in particular who commented on how far we have come in 4 years. If Miles has a massive rebuild, where were we before, or are you suggesting that the program hasn't improved in the last 4 years?

David Kemp 3 years, 7 months ago

Disagree with rebuild? Lose 25 seniors, all American 4 year lb, 3 year starting lb, best defensive lineman, 2 leading receivers, your starting qb( all be it not much) and your kicker. I would say we lose significant football quality and lots of holes to fill so 4 or at best five would be great!

Eric Eakins 3 years, 7 months ago

See how it develops and I'm open minded to upcoming circumstances but as we stand today, 5 win minimum is my expectation and with his experience think we should get one more from somewhere unexpected

Michael Maris 3 years, 7 months ago

What if Kevin Kane is offered the DC / LB coaching job. How would people feel about that potential hire?

Brett McCabe 3 years, 7 months ago

That would be a great hire. Quality DC and possibly heir-apparent.

Jack Hoff 3 years, 7 months ago

Not sure I'm sold on that one. Great he's a Kansas guy but his defenses weren't exactly shutting teams down at SMU. I'd take Bowen over Kane. No evidence he could lead a defense in this conference. Maybe Linebackers coach.

Darin Bradley 3 years, 7 months ago

4 wins next year would be a positive step. Yes we have talent returning but the best tacklers on a non tackling team are leaving (Joe/Daniel) and I don't see us outscoring teams unless a high profile QB is signed and can distribute the ball consistently. I liked Stanley but his deep ball and overall accuracy never improved in game. Maybe he gets another look but even then I don't see a big jump with him at the helm.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 7 months ago

This is the key difference...Beaty the high water mark was about 3 wins, maybe 4. With Miles the low water mark is 4 likely 5, that right there will be the key difference.

Beaty even when he said we would go to a bowl game, he won his lone game against a FBS school. Beaty has the worst winning percentage of any KU coach ever and now is selling out. It almost seems like he took the bus back to UT with the team.

David Robinett 3 years, 7 months ago

Benton, can you tell us the extent to which the outgoing staff shared their recruiting notes and contacts with the incoming staff?

Bill Kackley 3 years, 7 months ago

About time to get off the Beatty bashing. He's gone but was a better jayhawk than half the people on this site.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 7 months ago


First opportunity to do something unethical, he is there.

Mike Hart 3 years, 7 months ago

Jesus... I know you hated Beaty, but now are you going to rip the man for his scruples? You are clearly in the minority of anyone who has crossed paths with David Beaty... if you are going to rip his character.

Eric Eakins 3 years, 7 months ago

Not trying to poke the bear but I don't see what is unethical about getting a job AFTER you have been fired. If we wanted a non compete then we have to offer a cash trade and have him sign. Doesn't sound like that was put on the table.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 7 months ago

The Les Is More Success Graph:

1] 0 wins - What the hell was Long thinking?

2] 1 win - Uh Oh!!!

3] 2 wins - Somewhat of a major disappointment.

4] 3 wins - Deja Vu all over again.

5] 4 wins - KU football program has a pulse.

6] 5 wins - Now we're talking!

7] 6 wins - Bowl eligible..even a loss in the Toilet Bowl in Newark, NJ would look good.

8] 7 wins - Big 12 Coach of the Year and maybe win a mid major bowl!

9] 8 wins - National Coach of the Year and win a bowl.

10] 9 wins - Coach of the Century and play in a warm weather bowl.

11] 10 wins - Coach of the Century and get to the Big 12 Championship.

12] 11 wins - Team investigated for use of cyborgs and androids.

13] 12 wins - Team definitely uses cyborgs and androids.

14] 13 wins - My mind blurs at the thought!

15] 14 wins - National Champions and all life on earth ceases as we know it!!!!!!!

Eric Eakins 3 years, 7 months ago

I think KU wins more than 15 games this year. Wait, we have switched the subject to basketball, right?

Max Ledom 3 years, 7 months ago

Mike Hart,

All those things you listed falls under discipline. Though it won’t prevent all mistakes from happening, it certainly cuts out a significant chunk. And discipline is something our players lacked game in and game out for the better part of 10 years, and that absolutely falls under “coaching”. If you think a team coached by a Dabo Sweeney/ Nick Saban/ Urban Meyer would make that many crucial mistakes per game every game, well you’d be wrong. Cause look where they are at.

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