Kansas introduces Les Miles as its 40th head football coach
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas athletics director Jeff Long introduced Les Miles as the 40th head coach of the KU football team at a press conference on Sunday evening.
A transcript of the press conference is below.
MODERATOR: Good evening. Thank you so much for joining us on this exciting day for Kansas Athletics. My name is Brian Hanni. I’ll be the moderator for tonight’s press conference. We’ll have a chance first to hear from our athletics director, Jeff Long, here at the podium. He’ll then introduce coach at that time, who will also come up and make an opening statement. At that time they will sit to my left and we’ll call upon each of you individually. Be prepared to share your name and affiliation once the microphone is passed to you. It is my pleasure and privilege to introduce our Head Hawk, the athletics director, Jeff Long.
JEFF LONG: Thank you, everyone. It’s far too quiet in here. Let’s get it going. Hey, thanks for joining us here in the Hadl Auditorium for this great day in Kansas football. Before I introduce our head, new head coach I want to take a few minutes to thank some people.
First of all, change is always toughest on the football players themselves, the student-athletes on the team. And I want to thank our players for the way they have handled this situation, the way they have continued to play hard for the Kansas Jayhawks, and I’m so very, very proud of them and I had a chance to share that with them earlier today. I truly hope our fans will come out and support them on Friday as we take on the Texas Longhorns and honor these seniors who have been such a big, big part of this program.
Also want to thank Chancellor Girod for his confidence and support throughout the process. His public recognition of the importance of intercollegiate athletics, and particularly our football program, really set the tone for this search, so I am very appreciative of him and his support throughout this search.
I want to thank our friends at the endowment, our leaders Dale Seuferling and Jerome Davies as well as our alumni association executive director, Heath Peterson for their support since my arrival here in August and throughout this process.
I was also supported by our new legal team, Brian White our interim — excuse me, Brian White, our corporate counsel for the university, and interim corporate counsel for KAI, Megan Walawender. I really appreciate their support throughout this process.
Finally, our KU administrative team of Sean Lester, Christ Freet, and Mike Vollmar were invaluable to me as we vetted the candidates who were interested in our program. Thank you, guys. I appreciate your support.
And a very, very special thank you to our supporters who have stepped up in support of our Break the Cycle Fund. You have helped make this day possible and I’ll never be able to repay you for your support.
Okay, two weeks ago I shared our goal to find an experienced head football coach that is an exceptional leader of young men, who has built successful programs, a man of character, and a man known for developing student athletes on and off the field. I’m proud to share today that we have met those objectives and in doing so have brought one of the most successful college football coaches to the University of Kansas. I have known Coach Miles since early in our careers. We’ve worked together, we have competed against each other in two different conferences, and I’ve always respected his leadership of young men, his coaching acumen, his ability to win while his players enjoyed this great game of football. Now, if you’re wondering how Coach Miles is going to win at the University of Kansas, you only have to look to the team that he’s assembled in his own family. His wife, Kathy, is quarterback, was a former women’s basketball coach at the University of Michigan. Les and Kathy have raised four wonderful children, three of which who have competed at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics and one who is on her way. So his son Manny is a quarterback at North Carolina, who actually threw a touchdown pass yesterday and Les and his family got to watch that touchdown pass.
Also, he has another son Ben who is at Texas A&M University playing fullback. And then Kathryn, also known as Smacker, was a highly successful women’s swimmer at the University of Texas. And finally his daughter Macy, who is a high school freshman softball player, and we expect big things out of her in the years to come as well.
Kathy, Smacker, and Macy Miles are here with us today and I would like for them to stand and be recognized.
The national profile of our football program has improved immediately and dramatically today. But more importantly, behind all this national recognition there’s a leader that loves the game of football, believes in what the game does to build character in our young men, and has prepared men for life after football. His record of success on the field is only matched by his love for the student athletes that play the game for him. The combination of a leader of young men, a detailed and driven football coach, a man with an infectious personality who cares deeply about the young men he coaches, will be a combination that will surely lead to breaking the cycle and bringing football success to the University of Kansas.
But don’t be mistaken, there is much work to be done and this will be a process. One that begins with the recruiting class that will sign in December and February of next year. I can’t wait to get started. Please join me in officially welcoming the 40th head football coach of the University of Kansas Jayhawks, Coach Les Miles.
You’re looking good, coach.
LES MILES: First, I would like to thank Chancellor Douglas Girod and athletic director, Jeff Long. Those guys have made a choice that will make it possible for me to step back in front of a team room of young players and coach college football again. I can tell you that I will promise to give you my sincerest efforts. We went into the team room today and of course it’s a team room that’s being, they’re preparing as with another team to play a very quality Texas team, and so we didn’t not want to distract. But when I walked in I saw that familiar smile, the enjoyment that they are having in college football. They’re buddies, looking at each other like, who is this guy, and which is fine, but that was a wonderful day for me. I enjoyed it greatly. Obviously, it will continue.
When I first came to Kansas, I came by way of Oklahoma State, I came by way of Colorado, and we drove down into the stadium and I looked around and I said, man, it’s beautiful. I said it’s green, it is a spectacular place. I said, why aren’t they more successful? And I promise you, I looked at that and carried that thought with me as we went. I can tell you that as I researched this opportunity, I wanted to represent a school that had a great academic background. In other words, that they would offer to a student a great curriculum and an opportunity to graduate with a credential that would power their career. That is Kansas. And I — they belong to the Association for American Universities, 62 schools, and several schools that would tell you about academic excellence. Stanford is one of the 62, Harvard is one of the 62, the University of Michigan — raise your hand if you went to school at the University of Michigan, raise your hand. Not that I was patting myself on the back there, but I just, I like and am comfortable, I always believed that at some point in time a choice gets down to the credential that I’m going to have as I go forward, and I think that this, I think the Kansas credential is spectacular.
Recruiting. We’re going to recruit with honesty and integrity. We’re going to walk into a home and we’re going to tell a young man, let’s talk about your major. What’s your, what do you want to study? And then we’re going to talk to him about an opportunity to play. What’s your opportunity like? We want to show you that this guy’s going to graduate and this guy’s going to graduate and we’re playing the style of ball that you would enjoy and have fun in and prosper and very possibly play in the NFL. But we’re going to approach that aggressively and look forward to having a great recruiting class. This to me, this place is a recruiting class or two away from being a very special football team.
So I watched that Oklahoma game and that Oklahoma game, in the first half, that Kansas team was wearing them out. And then after they got into the second half the Kansas team got tired, so we have to bolster some very quality backups.
Jeff took the highlight of my talk when he started talking about my family. Kathy Miles is absolutely the coach of the family. Everybody in the family would rather be in trouble with me than her. She was a women’s assistant at Michigan when I met her. And I am not a basketball player, Jeff Long was. I took any advice from him that I could get. And Smacker Miles, a Texas — wrong school — a Texas graduate, swam there and had success. Macy is going to be a fast pitch softball pitcher and Ben Miles, as Jeff mentioned is at Texas A&M. Manny had a first half Hail Mary touchdown and I can tell you that the family enjoyed that greatly.
Now, I am going to work hard. I’m going to enjoy the kids that I coach. I’m going to hire a staff that is experienced and wants in to the things that we’re going to have going here at Kansas. I’m excited as I can be, just can’t tell you. Tomorrow’s going to be a day where I get on the phone and I start representing this school and it’s going to be fun to do.
Q. First of all, when it ended at LSU, was it always your intent to continue to coach?
LES MILES: Absolutely. Yeah. The further I got away from it the more I desired it. And I was prepared for a lifetime to be a coach. 10,000 hours supposedly makes you an expert. I think I’m closing in on that 10,000th hour. Yeah, I always wanted to coach.
Q. The Big-12’s a crazy offensive place and I’m just wondering what have been your observations of Big-12 football, offensive philosophy, just this pass-happy conference.
LES MILES: Well, I think that they’re throwing the ball down the field and certainly that’s a piece that we’re going to have to have. I think the opportunity to have balance and the ability to run it when you need to run it and throw it when you need to throw it is paramount to success in that league. But what’s happened is they have gone to stop the run in that league and everybody’s just chucking the ball down the field. So, I think a little bit of ball security and a little bit of controlling the tempo and the game clock will certainly benefit us.
Q. When your friend took this job a couple of months ago, did you begin to look and maybe think that might be a place I could end up? Have you looked at KU? And when you look at their roster, when you look at their team, what do you think? Can they compete right away? They’re doing better this year than they have been?
LES MILES: My first impression is that Jeff Long went there and when Jeff Long went there I knew that I would be able to communicate with him, I knew that he and I are cut from the same cloth, two Ohio boys, and he is a tremendously competitive man. Noon basketball, he was just really terrible, just really terrible, but he competed awfully hard. So I knew that this place would have a checkmark. And I told Jeff, I said, I’m not going to make a mistake and really kind of pointed at him. So, yeah, no. Was there another part of that question?
Q. They’re doing better this year. Do you feel like there’s something to build on?
LES MILES: Absolutely. I think they’re close. I think they’re a team that is, there’s spots of real talent and if you have a quality recruiting class behind that and put that, go towards 85 scholarships and kind of close off a recruiting season with a full ledger of players, I think that’s kind of the thing we want to do.
Q. I wonder about 2012 when, Jeff, you approached him about the Arkansas position. Can you guys just both give your recollections of that circumstance?
JEFF LONG: I have no recollection of that.
None. Are you familiar with what he’s talking about.
LES MILES: I don’t think that happened, did it?
JEFF LONG: No knowledge.
Q. Let me rephrase. Jeff, can you speak to, I guess the interest or what you have seen from Les over time that maybe put your eye on him from the beginning?
JEFF LONG: Well, I think all you have to do is think about success. He’s had success on the field. And then, again, what gets lost in that is his success with the student athletes. What he’s done besides, behind the team to build the young men, to lead the young men, to the number of student athletes that achieve their degrees and the number of people that were on the SEC honor roll. I think, and again I don’t know what year I saw, but they were second in the SEC. So that’s, that tells you about the man. It’s about more than football. And we all want to win, we all want to be successful, but what we’re about behind that is developing these young men, preparing them for life. And success on the football field is a big, big part of that. So whenever I’ve had a coaching opening, why wouldn’t you look at Les Miles? He’s successful in every area that you would want to have success in. So whether it was this search or other searches, Les was somebody that I thought about.
Q. This could be a question for either of you. How soon is it realistic to have a full staff in place, and what’s kind of the timetable for that and your expectations?
LES MILES: My — the reception that we have had as we polled some of the key candidates is I was very strong. We’ll really get after it a little bit tomorrow, get on the phone and touch base and qualify other coordinators first, shrink the list, go see them or bring them to see us, and then start the hiring process.
As soon as you finish with the coordinators, you take up the assistant coaches really very quickly because, one, those guys that know the coordinators, and two recruiting areas. Those guys that fit recruiting areas that the coordinators haven’t covered.
Q. I wonder if you could compare this to when you got to Oklahoma State. I think they had lost 11 out of the past 12 years. And then why do you think it took this long to get back in?
LES MILES: The similarities between Oklahoma State and Kansas are significantly, they parallel quite nicely. And the success that we can factor, based on the experiences that we have had there certainly is there. I don’t think that will be an issue. I think there’s —
Q. Why did it take this long to get back in?
LES MILES: The — I did not expect it to take this long to get back in. But as it went I was very comfortable with the fact that how I played my cards and the things that I wanted to do. And the opportunity to go forward and get a position like Kansas is the thing that obviously we wanted to do.
Q. Jeff, a couple weeks ago in this room you talked about when you wanted to set about finding a coach, you wanted to find a coach who was serious about coaching at Kansas and not using Kansas possibly as leverage. What convinced you that Les was the guy who wanted to coach at Kansas?
JEFF LONG: Yeah, that’s a great question because so many times people are interested in their jobs, but — your job, but it’s only to position themselves with where they are or whatever. But I think it’s through the process that we try to evaluate and that’s why it was important to have others involved in the search, like Sean Lester, Mike Vollmer, Chris Freet, to help me evaluate because that’s the challenge. What coaches really want to be at the University of Kansas. Who wants to take on this challenge. Who wants to build this program. And you know what, sitting down with Les, he’s a very honest person and obviously this was an opportunity for him to get back at a power five conference and a chance to build a program. And he’s built programs in the past. So when you’re out and you want back in, you can feel the passion in the conversation, you can feel the want to, and we certainly did that as we talked about this opportunity. And again for Les, from my view, for Les at this point in his career, the opportunity to step in and build a program and rebuild us and take us to a level of successful football was exciting to him and made a lot of sense for me to choose him.
Q. You’ve won a National Championship in a stadium that has as good a crowd support as anybody in the country. Talk about the importance of energizing the crowd and energizing the fan support for the program that you want to build here.
LES MILES: The style of football that we’ll play, the community recognition of our players will grow. The opportunity to get out and do community enhancement and be involved with the many things. I’m having a little heart felt here. Putting yourself in a position to, again, play the style of football that you’re going to play, that we’re going to play at Kansas, have some success, get people from their communities that have come to our school and are getting the degree of choice and playing championship football. That’s the way that you build. It’s honey badger. And honey badger, that name brings a pile of guys from New Orleans. And what we need is a, the same style of player from the many areas that we’ll recruit.
Q. For both of you. Jeff, I wonder, these coaching searches can be pretty stressful and intense and this one was two weeks. That’s not even really that long. How much fun did you have, and how much of a role did it being your buddy play in that? And Les I wondered the same thing. If knowing that Jeff was out there conducting this search kind of made the whole thing a little bit more comfortable than maybe some of these that are pretty intense usually.
JEFF LONG: There’s nothing about a coaching search that’s fun. I mean, let me just tell you, the pressure is tense and even as well as I know Coach Miles, in the end you don’t know if they’re going to come until they sign on the dotted line. So there’s tremendous amount of stress, tension, you have a number of coaches that you’re talking to because you have to talk to a number of them because you don’t know who is going to jump in the boat with you to tackle this project until they do. So it’s no fun.
Now, do I relieve a little pressure, a little stress through maybe a little here or there on Twitter? Yeah, I even say that on my Twitter piece, that I’m relieving stress and having some fun. So, yeah, I had some fun. I had some fun throwing some misdirection at some of the media that might have come out to the airport once or twice when they thought something was going on. And there might have been, you know, a fictitious flight plan scheduled from one place to another, but I don’t know who would have done that. But I read the reports where planes were coming from and I was really surprised. But, no, you have to have a little bit of fun in this. But the process is not fun. It’s an important, serious process. You have to arrive with somebody who fits the culture, the one that can help bring this program back to where we want it to be. So a lot of stress involved in it. And I was impressed with the people that were interested in this position. And it is difficult to tell whether they’re really honestly would take this job if offered. So and then again Coach Miles and I have known each other a very long time.
LES MILES: And he would say, just occasionally, that I’m going to go talk to this guy and I’m going to go talk to this guy and I’m going to talk to that guy. And I said hey, hey, I’m right here.
Come on and talk to me.
JEFF LONG: There’s a little gamesmanship in it. I’m just saying. He gave me a little bit too. Don’t think he didn’t. Every time there was a coaching opening I had to hear about it from his good friend George.
Q. When you were at Oklahoma State, obviously had an opportunity to see and play KU a little bit. What are some of your memories?
LES MILES: We really were fortunate to have some success against the Kansas team. So you were just talking about Kansas as — okay. We were — tight games but Rashaun Woods was an All-American and really lit up the day, and we hit deep balls pretty routinely. And but there was still fight in them. And when we sat, when I went down to the field and I looked, and I looked at the stadium crowd and I felt the cold because it was the end of the year and I said, this place has a specialness to it that frankly needs to be brought out.
Q. Wanted to ask you, obviously there’s still a week left in the season and obviously these guys play on Friday. Have you had a chance to talk with David Beatty and if so, what was said between the two of you? And how do you handle this week being that there’s going to be a week overlap between his coaching and his staff and then with you coming in?
LES MILES: Yeah, I did not want to distract them a bit. So I — the visitation that we had with the team today was a five-minute visitation. I didn’t go into things that I was going to teach and what we were going to do. I basically applauded them for the position that they took and how they played hard in the first half against Oklahoma. And if they continue to play like that, they will have an opportunity to win against Texas. But I support the coach, I want him to have success, and certainly the team as well. So I’m not, I’m around but I’m not going to be a distraction.
Q. Wondering, what’s your feel for the health of the program you’re taking over, particularly as it relates to the scholarships on hand over the next two years?
LES MILES: Yeah. I recognize, the key piece for us is to get our scholarships up to 85 and 85 with quality recruits, not 85 with turned and given to walk-ons that were not necessarily deserving. But if a walk-on is deserving, we’re certainly going to consider that and give him a scholarship, because we think that a walk-on program with the opportunity of scholarship is a very quality thing. But getting to 85 and doing so with quality recruits and guys that can play and that to me is the biggest battle.
Q. What do you think about the air raid/spread? It’s a concept they brought in from Kentucky into the Big-12 with Bob Stoops. You had some great success coaching against it when you were at Oklahoma State. Beat it. What do you think about it, it’s just taken over this league.
LES MILES: It’s an interesting thing. It’s a finesse game at times and then it’s a slug-you-in-the-mouth game. So I think there’s some advantages to it. I think our personnel would have to direct me more or less, but the opportunity to take the ball and have the time on the clock and erase it or take it and add to it and have the ability to throw and be in that style of throw it down the field, air raid. But yeah, that’s a — the style of offense can certainly be predicted, and they run into a drop seven, you know, and have four play and they run into a bunch of different things that change their opportunities of success. So if you can control the clock, you can have the ball, and whether you’re throwing it or not. And then put a defense on the field that gives them a difficult time gaining yards. That’s the advantage.
Q. You kind of touched on it talking about the offensive philosophy, but from the time that when you lost your job at LSU to now, have you tried to reconsider your approach at all offensively, or do you feel a need to, I guess?
LES MILES: Well, the things that were interesting, yes, I did very much look to myself and what I needed to change to make us — me more successful as an offensive coach. I can tell you that when we had Mettenberger as a passer, we threw for 3,300 yards and we had two, thousand-yard receivers in that same year Jeremy Hill rushed for 1,300 yards. So when we had passers, we threw it. When we had guys that could not throw the ball well, that were not, couldn’t process under the heat of the game, we ran the football and won 10 a year. So it really becomes the style of personnel that you have in the program and then you take your offensive strategy towards that and your defensive strategy as well. If you find that you’re having guys that are light and can run and go into the back field, then a real quality Okie defense certainly is something that works. Or if you have a plethora of defensive linemen, then that four down is something that you turn to and make part of your game. So, yeah, we did do an inspection, but we also did not take a negative view towards when we had a quarterback and what they look like and Matt Flynn was a National Championship JaMarcus Russell was the first player taken, I mean we had quarterbacks we moved the ball in the air. When we didn’t have a quarterback we still moved the ball and won 10.
Q. Would you be open to retaining any members of the current staff or entertaining that idea anyway?
LES MILES: Yes. And what would I do is I would, and at the right time, certainly not next week as they prepare for Texas, what I would do is interview each and everyone of them. When I took the job at both Oklahoma State and at LSU, I kept guys because I wanted to work with them and I wanted to see what their conversation would be about their room, the guys that they coached. I wanted to see how the recruiting end was going and I wanted to work with them I ended up working with Jimbo Fisher and then kept him for two years or three years total and enjoyed that greatly. So, yes, what I’m going to do is I’m going to be open to these guys because I think that they have a key to the style of personnel that we have and I want to hear it. I want to know what their opinion is.
Q. Your recruiting philosophy, in terms of geography, do you zero in on areas or are you coast to coast, stay at home here in Kansas, all of the above?
LES MILES: No, yeah, all of the above. What we’re going to do is we’re going to work a 500 mile radius and we’re going to get to those, and we’re going to win in that group. And then we’re going to pick some cities in Texas that we hit. We’re going to get to the West Coast at the need of the program. So but it’s a, with the proximity of the JC’s that we have in this state I’m going to certainly look at those guys as they would be emergency need style of guys.
Q. Obviously there are a number of players from Louisiana on the current roster, Pooka Williams, Mike Lee, curious if you have any kind of pass relationship with any of those guys?
LES MILES: No, I think that they got recruited when I was disposed, so but I can tell you that I watched those guys and I can, they’re quality men and the corner, Corione? Yeah, he’s, in my opinion, he’s going to grow up to be a really good player.
Q. For Jeff, how quickly did you zero in on Les as kind of your final candidate?
MODERATOR: You know, zeroing in is probably difficult to describe because again in these situations you have to, in my opinion, have one, two, three candidates that you’re bringing to the finish line and then ultimately you have to make a decision on one of those three. And candidly it wasn’t until late in the process, I know there’s, there were reports earlier and lots of those things, people were making some good guesses as it turned out, but candidly it wasn’t until late in the process and where I finally made a decision and I could convince coach to jump on board.
Q. After you left Oklahoma State, Kansas had a special season the same year you had a National Championship season. Did, even though you were caught up with your own situation, did that catch your attention at that time?
LES MILES: Absolutely. Yeah, the 12-1 Mangino team, what they did with that quarterback I thought was really special. We, yeah, we have always used mobile quarterback, but he had a great year and, yeah, I recognize that, I recognized it when it was happening.
Q. (No microphone) was there any concern about just not cranking out Division I type of players year after year after year in this state?
LES MILES: I think that it’s more the guys that you get than the guys you don’t get. I mean I don’t know if that makes any sense. The leadership, the style of person and how important it is for him to be a Jayhawk and what his feeling is and so I think it’s paramount that you handle the guys in state, you handle the guys that are close and in proximity and then you know your needs. It didn’t, we didn’t end up with corners, we didn’t end up with defensive ends, but now as we go to Louisiana, for instance, we can kind of sharpen our skill and go after the style of guy that really will make a difference.
Q. Jeff, you treat tweeted earlier the graphic that shows that Kansas is the only school in Division I right now that has a National Championship winning basketball coach and now a National Championship winning football coach. What does that mean to you to be overseeing that and to the health of the athletic department as a whole?
JEFF LONG: Well I think the combination is a great brand statement. Obviously that came from my marketers, it wasn’t a focus for me as I went through the search that I wanted to find a National Championship coach to match Bill Self. But it is unique and obviously we are the only one. But I think it just raises the level of attention nationally in our program. Maybe there are some football young men who weren’t necessarily looking at our program, but they’re aware of our program through basketball, but now they know we have a National Championship coach on our football team and they will take a closer look at the University of Kansas. So that’s really the important piece about this, it’s the brand of the KU Jayhawks and we’re hoping people will sit up and take notice and those who have maybe made soft commitments elsewhere, if Coach Miles is interested in them, that maybe they will turn and take a closer look at what we have to offer because as an institution, as an athletic program, we have a lot to offer. This is an incredible place, incredible program, and I think people will take a different look at us in the football world now.
Q. Given your youthful appearance is this a stepping stone job for you?
LES MILES: No, I went to a great job here. I think the fan base have reached out in any number of ways to make it clear that this is a special place and then to, I would like to finish a career with championships. The guy sitting to my left, that’s who he is and that’s who I am. So we would, we would like that opportunity to continue and to play championship style football.
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