Les Miles is out as the head football coach at Kansas; according to reports, the parties here “mutually agreed to part ways”. I take that to mean they have agreed to buy out Miles’ contract at a discounted value, but I have no direct knowledge of the terms and conditions there. The issue causing this separation is a report that surfaced a few days ago related to an investigation at LSU. According to the report, Miles behaved inappropriately toward women there when he was the head coach at LSU.
If the investigation at LSU is accurate and complete, Les Miles should have been fired by LSU if they had known at the time what was ongoing inside the football program. There is some indication that some of this malfeasance was known because the report suggests that the AD at LSU wanted to fire Miles “for cause” as far back as 2013. [Aside: Miles stayed in that job until 2016.]
The fact that Les Miles had compiled a record of 3-18 at Kansas over the past two years did not give him much ammunition with which to put up a fight here. The Jayhawks were 0-9 in the truncated 2020 season and 3-9 in Miles’ first season on the sidelines. Moreover, 8 of those 9 losses in 2020 were by 15 points or more. Jeff Long, the AD at Kansas, tried to put a smiley face on this matter with this statement:
“I am extremely disappointed for our university, fans and everyone involved with our football program. There is a lot of young talent on this football team, and I have no doubt we will identify the right individual to lead this program. We will begin the search for a new head coach immediately with an outside firm to assist in this process. We need to win football games, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.”
I recognize that Jeff Long had to say what he did, but that statement makes clear that the athletic department at Kansas is not particularly efficient nor effective. Consider 3 points:
- Granted the investigation at LSU and the report dealing with the investigation had not happened in 2019 when Miles was hired at Kansas, but the events took place years before that. So, might it be fair to say that the athletic department did not perform sufficient due diligence in that hiring process?
- Athletic Director Long said they will use an “outside firm to assist” in finding a new coach. Really? The athletic department did not have a contingency plan in the event that Coach Miles was trampled by a runaway buffalo? Kansas is in one of the Power 5 conferences; it is the doormat of that conference; any young and upcoming coach who might make Kansas respectable would goose up his career and his coaching value immensely. And the AD at such a school does not have a couple such young coaches on his radar and the phone numbers of the agents for those young coaches on his rolodex? To me, that is stunning…
- Jeff Long – presumably with the assistance of an “outside firm to assist” – hired Les Miles for the coaching job two years ago. The imperative to “win football games” was surely there at that time as well as now. Nonetheless, the outcome of that coaching search resulted in a two-year record of 3-18. Now, the same process will swing into action again. Hope springs eternal …
There was another report from ESPN.com yesterday that made me shake my head. According to that report, Jeffrey Lurie – Philadelphia Eagles’ owner – directed the team’s coaching staff and team personnel people to “build around Jalen Hurts” as the team QB in 2021. Let me set the stage here:
- Jalen Hurts started 4 games in 2020; the Eagles were 1-3 in those 4 games. In the game the Eagles won – over the Saints in New Orleans – Hurts played well and looked like a solid pick in the second round of the 2020 Draft. In the next 3 games his performances were not nearly as compelling – – but until the final game against the WTFs, he did not embarrass himself or the team. In that final game he and the rest of the team and the coaching staff basically threw up all over their shoes.
- The jury is out on Jalen Hurts as an NFL QB. He may be the next Russell Wilson; he may alternatively be the next Brock Osweiler; there is simply insufficient evidence to make that call in March 2021.
Assuming that the report on ESPN.com is accurate, Jeffrey Lurie is on a dangerous trajectory here. He supposedly has been a sports fan all his life and has owned the Eagles for about 25 years. In terms of the expertise needed to “make a call” on who ought to be the team’s starting QB, I believe I have listed all his credentials there. And that is why this is a dangerous trajectory and that is why Jeffrey Lurie should step back, take a deep breath and cast his gaze on two of his fellow team owners. Two other owners have inserted themselves into the determination of their teams’ QBs and neither franchise was the better for it.
- Daniel Snyder has reportedly done this 4 times in his 20 years of owning an NFL team. The QBs he “championed” were Jeff George (at the end of George’s career), Patrick Ramsey (who Snyder claimed to have “discovered”) RG3 and Dwayne Haskins. The team record during Snyder’s ownership – along with his QB “guidance” – is a cumulative 139-196-1.
- Jimmy Haslam reportedly did this only once when he supposedly over-ruled his folks conducting the Draft and had them select Johnny Manziel with the Browns’ second pick in the first round in 2014. Haslam has not been known for top-shelf selections in other areas of the “football side” of the franchise either and the team record in full seasons since he took over in mid-stream in 2012 is a cumulative 39-88-1.
Jeffrey Lurie hired a GM, personnel folks, scouts and a coaching staff presumably with the thought in his mind that those folks know more about football than a fanboy does. Jeffrey Lurie has two negative examples of what may happen when owners make player decisions not in consonance with the decisions of the “football people”. Instead of caveat emptor (Buyer beware!) this seems to be a situation of caveat dominus (Owner beware!)
Finally, having mentioned two NFL owners – and potentially a third – who may fall victim to the sin of hubris, let me close with a pertinent observation by historian Erik Larsen:
“The Lusitania is a monument … to the hubris of the era. I love that, because where there is hubris, there is tragedy.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………