Why college football should celebrate Les Miles’ return
After introducing Les Miles as the next football coach at Kansas, Jeff Long made it truly official.
He handed Miles a white hat emblazoned with a blue KU.
Miles snugged it on his head, adjusted it with a hand on the back, then stepped behind the podium with a little smile on his face.
The Hat is back.
Oh, happy day!
The Big 12 just got a lot more fun. Heck, so did college football. The sport is better with Leslie Edwin Miles on the sidelines.
Will Kansas be better?
That remains to be seen. Miles laid the foundation on which Mike Gundy now stands at Oklahoma State, then won a national championship at LSU, so the odds seem to favor a Rock Chalk revival. But even though the biggest college football miracle ever was worked down the road in Manhattan, the job in Lawrence is sizable, too.
Miles faces challenges galore. Will he go with an Air Raid offense like most everyone else in the Big 12 or stick with an old-school system that helped get him run out of Baton Rouge? How will he recruit to the downtrodden program? How will he win back fans who have fled in alarming numbers?
But before we get too bogged down in those questions, let's simply enjoy the return of one of college football's most energetic, most fun, most real personalities. Where most college football coaches are buttoned down like a Merrill Lynch board meeting, Miles is free form like an open mic night. They are robotic and guarded. He is real and genuine.
Some say he is more doofus than darling, but those people need to have their heads examined.
College football needs more personalities, not less, and Sunday when Miles was introduced as the coach of the Jayhawks, we were reminded that Les is more.
Any time he gets behind a microphone, there's a chance for magic.
There are websites, after all, that track his vast verbiage, his quirky quotage, and while he wasn't in midseason form this weekend, he showed why it's nearly impossible not to love him.
After thanking the decision-makers at Kansas, from the chancellor to the athletic director, he steeled his gaze.
“I will promise,” he said in that measured, dictated cadence, “to give you my sincerest efforts.”
Sincerest efforts? Who talks like that today?
The same guy who responded later to a question about how what he'd done at OSU compares to what he hopes to do at Kansas by saying, “The similarities between Oklahoma State and Kansas ... they parallel quite nicely. The success that we can factor based on the experiences that we had there is certainly there.”
I swear, that's exactly what he said.
What it means exactly, I have no idea.
Les Miles isn't a perfect football coach, but he doesn't try to be. Frankly, that might be the most endearing thing about him. He is who he is. You can take him or leave him. You can like him or loathe him.
Kansas liked him, and college football is the better for it.
As Long turned the mic over to the newly minted and hatted Miles on Sunday, he was smiling, too.
“You're looking good, Coach,” the Kansas athletic director said.
Miles wore that hat for the entire news conference, and even paired with a suit, tie and pocket square — don't remember him ever wearing one of those in Stillwater! — it looked totally and completely natural.
Welcome back, Mad Hatter. We've missed you.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.