Les Miles to Kansas Jayhawks? Beautiful!

My wife and I are making a swing through South Louisiana this weekend and will be in Baton Rouge to watch the LSU/Rice football game (?) on Saturday night.  With LSU listed as a 42-point favorite (a bit generous, I might add), the biggest talk around campus this weekend will not be about the 8-2 Tigers or their 1-10 opponent from Houston.

The news continues to break this Friday afternoon that former LSU head football coach, Les Miles, will be offered the soon-to-be vacant head football coaching position at the University of Kansas.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!  This news will make Kansas fans happy, but LSU fans may be even happier for their beloved former head coach.

Full disclosure – I was one of those people who thought LSU needed to move on Les Miles before he was fired in 2016 after a difficult loss to Auburn early in the season.  In my opinion, Les Miles had become too stubborn to change (especially on offense) and seemed clue-les (pun intended) at times during big games.

On the other hand, the legions of Les Miles supporters asked, “How can you fire a man who has won 77% of his games at LSU”?

My answer?   Money.

LSU had just expanded the stadium to 102,000 seats.  With Les Miles’ conservative and often boring offense (run, run, pass, punt), LSU’s annual win/loss records (though not mediocre) had deteriorated enough allow the Tigers to drift back into the pack of the SEC West.

The fans knew it.  The Athletics Director knew it.  And, when interest in the football team wanes at LSU, so will season football ticket sales (the lifeblood of major college athletics).

The then-63 years old Les Miles found himself sent to the bench at home, but sporting a nifty consolation prize contract payout calling for him to receive $133,000/month for a total of nearly $10 million.

If only you and I had such a sweet retirement nest egg, eh?

After having the door slammed on him for multiple coaching vacancies after the first year following his LSU exit, Coach Miles (still living in Baton Rouge and beloved by most Tigers fans) may have adjusted his sights and expectations in year two.

Kansas seems to be a perfect landing spot for Les Miles.

KU’s football team has been lousy for a long, long time.  They have finished below .500 in the Big 12 for 22 of the past 23 seasons.  This year’s team is currently 3-7 heading into season ending games at Oklahoma and at home versus Texas.

The Kansas football team rarely sells out the stadium in Lawrence, and the school has trouble getting top football talent to commit to playing at a school with a revolving door of coaches and a perpetual losing record.

The one thing that all fans know is the Les Miles can and will recruit better football talent to come to Kansas to play for his team.

Les Miles has already turned around another Big 12 team in chaos years ago.  From 2001 through 2004, Coach Miles helped revive the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ program into a winner again during his four seasons at the helm in Stillwater.

He then decided to take a chance in 2005 and took the reins at LSU.

Little did he know that he would be following in the footsteps of the most successful football coach in the modern era, Nick Saban.   Miles won his own national championship at LSU in 2007 and, for many years to come, had the Tigers on the cusp of another national title.

We know the rest of the story at LSU.

Les Miles is now 65 years of age, but his time in semi-retirement will have him fired-up again about returning to the sidelines again to build yet another winner in the Big 12.

On Thursday, it was announced that LSU had reached a buy-out agreement with Les Miles.  The coach will receive a lump sum check for $1.5 million and will opt to forego the monthly payments totaling another $5 million down the road.

Though some of the reasons involve a contract settlement that we aren’t privy to know, Les Miles is now “free” from LSU and become a head coach again.

I doubt that Coach Miles would make such a deal if he wasn’t pretty sure about returning to the sidelines soon.

KU fans, get ready!  A bolt of pure football enthusiasm is headed into the Kansas football program in 2019.

Don’t be surprised if thousands of purple and gold-clad fans from LSU start showing up at your football games next season to root for their old coach, too.

Go get ’em, Coach Miles!  Rock, Chalk, Mad Hatter!

 

 

 

Death of the Diaper Dandy Dynasties?

The NCAA basketball’s Final Four is now set for this Saturday in San Antonio.  The upstart Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago will square off with the Big 10’s Michigan Wolverines while #1 seeds Kansas and Villanova will play the nightcap.  These teams earned their way to the big stage, and it should be a magnificent day of college hoops in the Alamo City.

It is also notable who will not be in the final weekend of this year’s March Madness.  No Kentucky.  No Duke.  Two of the nation’s foremost college basketball programs will again be sitting out the dance this year.

For both the Wildcats and Blue Devils, this marks the third consecutive year which neither team will play in the championship game of men’s college basketball.  These two national hoops hotbeds have been on the Final Four sidelines more than in the championship game in recent years.  Duke’s last championship came in 2015, while Big Blue in Kentucky last hoisted a trophy in 2012.

Based on the hype surrounding those two teams and their recent one-on-one battles for the most prized high school recruits, you would think those two schools would be winning the tournament more often.

The answer, of course, is that Kentucky and Duke have become the nation’s foremost “one and done” schools for many young players whose sole intent is to meet the NBA’s minimum eligibility requirements after one year at school.

In 2018, Kentucky’s starting five consisted of all freshmen, while Duke started four freshmen and a lone senior, Grayson Allen.  Nine freshmen out of ten starters!  Sadly, most of these nine young players have convinced themselves that they are now ready to play in the NBA.

A few may make it, but most won’t.

Imagine, for a moment, just how good a Kentucky or Duke team just might be if many of these players would stay in school and play for two or three seasons?

Meanwhile, the four teams playing in this weekend’s games will start a total of two (count ’em) freshmen while juniors and seniors dominate the starting fives.  The twenty starting players will be focused on the ultimate team goal – winning a national championship.

Kentucky, Duke and a few other universities have opted to invest in recruiting the highly-hyped “one and done” high school basketball stars to, in part, avoid having so-called rebuilding years following the loss of key upperclassmen.  All the while, both these schools and their younger players wink while knowing they are mutually using each other for their own financial gain.

It is time for the NCAA and the NBA to end this charade by permitting high school players to go directly into the professional ranks (including the development leagues).  Alternatively, for those players who elect to sign an athletic scholarship to play college ball, those student-athletes should be required to make a minimum three-year commitment to the program and, hopefully, take advantage of the educational opportunities.

This weekend’s Final Four “older kids” have worked hard to accomplish a singular goal of winning a national championship.  It will be a treat to watch them give it their all.

Meanwhile, the Diaper Dandy kiddie programs have returned home and are all tucked-in taking their pre-NBA draft naps.

Shh…Don’t anyone wake-up these sleeping programs anytime soon.

I am having too much fun again this year without them.