Oklahoma State football: Les Miles sort of remembers his debut
Les Miles remembers his first game as a head coach. Kind of. Sort of. Eventually.
On September 1, 2001, OSU lost 17-9 at Southern Mississippi. Luke Phillips kicked three field goals for the Cowboys. Tatum Bell rushed for 37 yards on 14 carries. Aso Pogi quarterbacked the entire game.
Miles eventually would get the Cowboys turned around. They ended that season with a 16-13 Bedlam upset that cost OU a chance at the national championship game.
But Miles, now the head coach at Kansas, had a tough time remembering, when asked Monday on the Big 12 teleconference about his head-coaching debut.
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“It’s not been that long,” Miles said, intimating that of course he remembered, before acknowledging that it wasn’t coming back to him quickly. “I would guess that I played an out-of- conference team. May have been La Tech. (Or) it was another Louisiana school.
“It was Mississippi State. Not State. The other MIssissippi school. Southern Miss. I can remember throwing a ball across the yard to the tight end, and the tight end had a great open opportunity and misplayed the ball. It was the opening drive. We finished second, which is really ugly.”
Head-coaching debuts were the subject because Baylor’s Dave Aranda could make his on Saturday night against Miles’ Jayhawks. “Could” is the operative word, because Kansas is the fourth team that Aranda figured he would open against.
The Bears were scheduled to open against Ole Miss in Houston on September 5. When the pandemic uprooted the long-established 2020 schedule, the Bears switched to a September 12 home game against Louisiana Tech. When that game was canceled a couple of days before kickoff because of COVID-19 issues, the Bears added Houston for a September 19 game. Then Baylor-UofH was wiped out by more coronavirus stuff.
So now it’s Kansas, and Miles and Aranda have a history. Miles hired Aranda as LSU’s defensive coordinator for the 2016 season. When Miles was fired in September 2016, Aranda stayed on under interim and eventually permanent coach Ed Orgeron. After LSU’s national championship season of 2019, Baylor came calling for Aranda.
“I owe coach Miles a lot,” Aranda said Monday. “One of the nicest, best people I know. His family included. When I got to LSU, it was really because of him … so much respect for him. He does it the right way. Coaches on that staff respect him. They love working for him.”
Miles pushed such plaudits Aranda’s way, too.
“I think he’s going to be a great coach for a long time,” Miles said. “I was thankful to work with him. I pursued him some when he was at Wisconsin, two different times. The time we spent together was very fruitful. He did a good job.”
And now Aranda’s debut comes against Miles. Maybe. And maybe Aranda will remember it.