The Kansas Jayhawks made headlines this weekend by hiring former LSU head coach Les Miles. Will he turn the program around, or will the move backfire?
For what felt like the first time ever, the Kansas Jayhawks football team made national headlines and generated significant buzz in the national media on Friday. After recently firing their head coach David Beaty, the Jayhawks decided to try and make a huge splash with the next of their program.
Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported on Friday that the Jayhawks are finalizing a deal with former LSU head coach Les Miles. For a team that hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009, this is obviously some huge news.
There are understandably plenty of questions about the hire, and whether or not Miles can turn this program around. It’s fair to look at both sides of the argument, because there are valid points in favor of hiring Miles, as well as against it.
For Kansas, it’s obvious why this is a great hire in the short term. A program that’s been so irrelevant in the Big 12 for so long is suddenly getting national attention again, and that’s great for the Jayhawks fans. Fan interest will be higher than it’s been in over a decade, and that likely means more seats are going to be occupied on game days.
The Jayhawks are also getting a coach with a national championship on his resume, and an ability to recruit legitimate football players. Lawrence, Kansas isn’t exactly a cultural hotbed, but talented football players not worried about the allure of a big city are definitely going to be more interested in a school like Kansas when a coach like Miles is running the team.
On the other hand, this is definitely a risk for the Jayhawks. Miles hasn’t coached a game since a few weeks into the 2016 season, and at 65 years old, building a program essentially from scratch is no easy task for anyone.
Miles may have recruited some big names at LSU and has experiencing attracting big names, but he’ll still be at a significant disadvantage with the Kansas recruiting pipeline, liked we discussed earlier.
Perhaps the biggest risk with this hire is the offensive play style that Les Miles teams have run. Can a pro-style offense actually work in the Big 12? With all of these spread offense and air raid philosophies, Kansas could struggle to keep up offensively with all of these teams putting up 40 or 50-plus points with regularity.
At the end of the day, a potential rebuild won’t come overnight. There are understandably a handful of risks in hiring such a big name in Les Miles, but considering the Jayhawks haven’t won a conference title since the Big 12 was the Big 8 in 1968, what does Kansas really have to lose?