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!