Friday, August 23, 2019


Matt Tait: Kansas football coach Les Miles determined to make KU rebuild about more than him

New Kansas head football coach Les Miles talks about his first recruiting class of the program during his Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium.

New Kansas head football coach Les Miles talks about his first recruiting class of the program during his Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium.


It doesn’t matter where you look or who you talk to, everybody wants to make the upcoming Kansas football season about new head coach Les Miles.

Except Les Miles.

Nearly every time he has been available to the media since his hiring last November, Miles has been asked how his presence or his name or his know-how will impact the KU football program and get the Jayhawks back on the winning track.

And nearly every time, including most recently during a post-practice press conference Tuesday afternoon, Miles has made sure to point out that neither the 2019 season nor what’s beyond will be about him.

“I’ve always kind of enjoyed me (being) taken out of the picture,” he said Tuesday. “Because what I’m going to do is I’m going to set up an environment that allows players and coaches to play and coach and an environment that encourages success.”

He went on to call that process an “excellent way to put that team together,” and history shows that he probably has a point.

Thirteen times in his 17-year run as a head coach, Miles’ teams have won eight or more games in a season. If we’re taking Miles at his word, we imagine he utilized this same philosophy for all of them.

And he’s doing it here at Kansas as well.

This is not to say Miles isn’t embracing his role and his part in all of this — he is. After all, it’s those eight letters and all of the history and past achievements associated with them that have people outside of a 100-mile radius paying attention to Kansas football in a different way.

All of a sudden, there’s national interest in the Jayhawks.

Several national publications already have produced articles about Miles’ new undertaking. And media giant ESPN already has jumped on board for two notable Miles projects — the first, part of the E:60 series, will air at 8 a.m. Sunday and the second, a Hard Knocks type of weekly KU football series titled “Miles To Go,” debuts on Aug. 29 on Big 12 Now and ESPN+ and runs for 18 weeks.

Neither of those ideas would’ve seen the light of day without Miles.

So taking him entirely out of the equation is not exactly possible.

But credit the veteran coach for wanting this program to be run and built and held accountable by the dozens of players and coaches putting their sweat into it day in and day out.

“It’s going to be the players, the assistant coaches and a team,” Miles said. “And it’s not going to be anything else. I’m complimented when people think too much of me and I’m mad when somebody thinks too little. But the reality is it’s the team.”

If Miles has it his way, that team will represent the wall full of principles and philosophies that are written on the east wall inside Mrkonic Auditorium where the players gather for film sessions and team meetings.

Dozens of buzzwords from things like disciplined and tough to national champions and 100% graduation adorn the gray wall that all eyes in the room are facing from their seats.

But the word that is written the largest on that wall is a made-up word that KU tweaked the spelling of to emphasize that team-first mentality.

“Dominant KUlture,” it reads.

“Spelled exactly the right way,” Miles noted. “That’s the core.”

“Now, to be a dominant football player, to come in and win games and have dominant experiences and historically be able to review your commitment to a team and (see) that how you played was dominant, that’s what we need to do,” Miles said. “And that’s the center. That’s the core. There’s a lot to (it) and that’s done by the players in this room, not me.”

Added Miles when asked to assess the process of changing the vibe around Kansas football: “I think there’s a feeling that they have changed since they walked in that door. And that wasn’t me. That was their commitment to this room and this team.”


Steve Corder 3 years, 1 month ago

Darn good article! Glad you posted. Thanks

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

Dale - Interesting article though makes me wonder about the education down yonder. They only had us winning 5 games after the OB before starting the coaching turnstile.

Also interesting to hear the “pouting”comments then read some drivel about every perceived problem from years gone by. It was like Brett had a brother.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 1 month ago

Um, we did win only 5 games after the OB; what exactly are you talking about?

Brett McCabe 3 years, 1 month ago

Lazy and cheap. At least have the discipline to respond to a comment, not to imaginary beings, Captain Quixote.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 1 month ago

Also, nice way to drop another Dirk Dark Cloud on a really great article.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 1 month ago

The year after the OB we played an beat tiny-sota in a bowl. Insight? It was the year after that when we lost the final 7 and everything started to unravel.

And once again rather than find the truth Brett twists reality into a negative.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 1 month ago

His lifetime winning percentage will clearly suffer while trying to rebuild one of the worst football programs in the country - KU has not won more than 3 games in a season for the past nine seasons (a total of only 18 wins in nine seasons). Kudos for Miles being willing to take a chance to tarnish his legacy by taking the job. Both Long and Miles were the right choice at the right time to run a $100 million dollar business (KU athletics are their own 501c3 - separate from university) and rebuild a downtrodden football program, respectively. Clearly this ESPN+ “Miles to go” is to enhance KU’s exposure to potential athletes (and students) and bring in some more revenue. But for those wondering whether it is worth supporting a football program and the120 student athletes who are part of the athletic program, of the $37.5 million generated via conference and national TV broadcasting, ~$30 million comes from football (a much smaller percentage of broadcasting revenue is generated by basketball because the monies are split between more programs than football). So the Chancellor and Long are trying to be in a better position when conference realignment rears it’s ugly head again. Without a strong football program, KU will not remain in a power five conference and will struggle to support the other 17 athletic programs within the University. As Long has pleaded, attend the football games and bring many friends.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 1 month ago

We have 6 seasons to improve our brand to the point that we are not a football liability in the event the B12 implodes. One thing that works in our favor. Texas moving to another conference seems unlikely since they already generate revenue that would not increase by relocating. Doesn’t keep another program from jumping ship out of fear of being left behind but they are the biggest piece of the puzzle.

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