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Not Cool… LSU’s Miles Disses Ex-QB Commit

Les Miles did a fantastic job coaching LSU this past season.  He led his team through the nation’s toughest schedule, avoided dozens of potential off-field pitfalls, won the SEC and made it all the way to the BCS Championship Game with a team that’s still awfully darn young.

If Oklahoma State hadn’t fallen at Iowa State — setting up an LSU-Bama rematch for the title — there’s a good chance Miles has another championship ring in the vault today.

So let’s not start with the “you hate Les Miles” bunk.  Personally, I think he was the nation’s best coach in 2011 (it not early-January 2012, certainly 2011).

But grown millionaires shouldn’t take potshots at teenagers.  Period.  End of story.  Regardless of setting.  Too bad then that Miles did just that with regards to Notre Dame signee Gunner Kiel.

When the five-star quarterback prospect changed his mind last month and enrolled in South Bend rather than in Baton Rouge — most say his mother’s emotional plea to stay close to him led to the switch — Miles tried to be magnanimous.

“There’s a point in time where young people make a variety of decisions for a variety of reasons,” Miles said on January, 17th.  “The only thing I can tell you is there’s a guy in the Midwest who felt staying close to home was the right thing, or maybe here’s a guy in any number of places where the decision comes down to staying close to family and representing a stadium or team nearby.  I understand that very much.  If that’s the cast, then we need to have people that are going to be happy here in Louisiana.”

Well, it doesn’t sound like Miles understands that “very much” now.  Speaking at a booster function on Wednesday, Miles questioned Kiel’s heart and talent:

“There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou State.  He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, so you know.”

Naturally, LSU fans roared with approval.  Their coach had just fired a pretty big insult at a teen who dared to stay close to home to be with his family.  Hoorah!  The hometown Baton Rouge Advocate even cited Miles’ “wit.”

Sorry, folks, but that’s weak.

Miles knew what he was doing and who he was speaking to.  How better to sell fans on the idea that three-star QB prospect Jeremy Liggins is a better acquisition than the five-star Kiel than to just go ahead and rip Kiel?

Liggins — who may turn out to be a better quarterback than Kiel in the long run, who knows? — was praised by Miles for having the grit and gumption to leave his home state for the Tigers.

“Liggins stood up in the middle of Mississippi and said, ‘I’m going to a place where we can win a national championship,’ and I like that man’s style,” Miles said.

Some are sure to defend the coach by stating that his rip of Kiel came in a talk with fans.  He was just giving them some red meat.  True enough.  And if he’d said, “We’re gonna win a national title,” I’d have no problem with it.

But when you take a personal shot at someone else — in front of the media — it’s bush league.  Lane Kiffin didn’t get a pass in 2009 when he claimed in front of a Tennessee booster club that Florida’s Urban Meyer had cheated while recruiting a UT signee (nor did he deserve one).  For Miles to publicly question the heart and leadership qualities of a young man he’d just tried to bring into his program is hugely disappointing and he deserves the backlash he’s going to feel for it.

And there will be some.

Perhaps people will realize that Miles worked hard to land Kiel, someone he now says didn’t have “the chest” to lead LSU.  Doesn’t that mean Miles failed to properly evaluate the kid?

Perhaps Kiel himself changed his mind about LSU after watching Miles go with his run-firt quarterback for all four quarters of the BCS Championship Game, rather than turn the ball over to his pass-first quarterback.  We’ll never know because Kiel didn’t rip Miles or LSU when he landed at Notre Dame.  (Though most everyone else in America ripped LSU’s offensive showing in that game.)

And forget the perhaps on this one, it’s guaranteed: Rival SEC coaches who recruit against Miles are sure to remind parents that LSU’s coach will say anything to land their son… but he’ll turn on him quicker than a bell clapper in a goose’s rear if he inks elsewhere.

This one was bad form from a good coach.

 


14 comments
tradeassociation
tradeassociation

I wonder if Elliot Porter agrees with Les Miles on this issue. (The Elliot Porter reference should silence the LSU fans who are trying to redirect attention to Nick Saban. What Miles did to Porter was much worse than what Saban did to Taylor and Philon.)

Even though LSU will never admit it publicly, Jarrett Lee became persona non grata for Miles after failing to graduate in December. Miles was counting on giving Lee's scholarship to somebody else, and Lee's not graduating played as much a role in losing that 4 star OT (with 5 star ability, given 4 stars only because he is a bit undersized right now ... check him out after he redshirts and spends 2 years in the Auburn weight room) to a division rival as what Kiel did. And personally, were Jeremy Liggins to lose 30 lbs. and wind up a better player than Gunnar Kiel (though likely at DE and not QB) I wouldn't be the least bit shocked: midwestern QBs are more likely to be flops (Mitch Mustain) and frauds (Brady Quinn, and for my money Jay Cutler) than big time college players. The kid is better off at Notre Dame where he won't be exposed by an SEC defense (except in a bowl game) like Quinn was at that infamous 2007 Sugar Bowl that wrecked his draft status. Rex Grossman: best QB to come out of the midwest in years. Even Drew Brees was from Texas, not Indiana. Seriously, when was the last Big 10 QB to be a #1 pick? Michigan generally recruits their QBs from Cali, not the Big 10 region.

Miles was 100% wrong to call the kid out, but he should have never recruited the kid in the first place. Get QBs from Texas and California, not the midwest.

btlh2oguy
btlh2oguy

We easily forget college football is played by kids. Miles comments were uncalled for. He either needs to apologize to the kid and LSU Fans.

SEC fan
SEC fan

John,

Agree with both your article and also Bill's perception that Nick Saban gets away with more "stuff" that is borderline ethical than other coaches do for whatever reason. Not sure if it is intimidation, lack of critical hometown media or what. Also, wonder what are your thoughts on "Lane Kiffin, Jr." James Franklin publicly challenging the character and integrity of the player that decommitted from Vandy to attend Georgia while having a player transfer to Vandy after being enrolled at UNC. This would seem to be equally "weak". What do you think?

GrandadBW
GrandadBW

@LSUTigerWire Miles hurt recruiting when he did not play Lee or Hebert, two of the seniors who helped get LSU to the BCSNC game.

Bulldog
Bulldog

Your article is dead on. Miles is making millions off these kids. Classless is what it is...classless.

Bill
Bill

John,

I am an LSU fan and agree that Coach Miles shouldn't have said what he did. But for every media outlet to blow each and every mistake Coach Miles makes into a national story. Keil and his parents were not upfront with Coach Miles about distance being an issue and cost our program a four-star lineman recruit to Auburn due to the early enrollment scholarship LSU held for Keil. That is a bigger issue than Keil deciding to stay home. So the media needs to quit using Miles as a favorite punching bag.

More to the point, did Coach Saban and Alabama revoke scholarship offers to two three-star players on national signing day because two four-star players commit that he wanted more. Not to mention the running back from Georgia that wound up signing with Kentucky. Is this not a worse issue that has gone unnoticed by the media?

It would seem that the media is afraid of Coach Saban and finds it fun to beat up on Coach Miles. But truly, which coach treats 18 year-old kids worse? Come on.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

SEC fan...

I haven't seen a quote from Franklin regarding Dawson, but if he did it it's bush league, too.

Coaches should NEVER publicly rip a recruit. They yank scholarships and force guys out left and right regardless of what they say. So if a kid flips on them, tough. They have to take it. That's the difference between being a grown millionaire and a teenager.

Goes for Miles, Franklin or anyone else who chose to rip a kid publicly after signing day.

That's my take,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

Bill...

Judging by the emails I receive from Alabama fans, we've mentioned Saban's issues with Taylor and Philon quite a bit.

Also, saying, "Well, Saban's worse," really isn't a defense for Miles actions in this case.

It's bad business -- even if he has reasons -- for a coach to take a shot at a teenager.

Thanks for reading,

John

Bill
Bill

@John at MrSEC I did not give Coach Miles a pass by saying Coach Saban is worse (please reread my email). What I did say is every mistake that Miles makes is written about in blistering detail by all the national sports media, including your blog. Yet, Saban doesn't nearly get the same blistering critiques for his chewing up and spitting out non-starters like nobody's business. I just find it curious and want to know the reason why the media seems to put one coach under the microscope and let's the other off seemingly every time. Saban keeps getting the number one recruiting classes with more than 25 recruits each year, but the media seems romlack curiosity how he is doing it. Alabama is the closest thing to a college football factory that there is in the modern day, but the media seemingly turns a blind eye to all the kids that are left in Saban's wake.

SEC fan
SEC fan

@BamaCLT@John Guess it is no surprise that the Bama fan doesn't get it: The deal is which is worse to do to a 17yo kid on signing day, question his honor, integrity, manhood, etc.. like Miles, Franklin and Mullen did or tell him that even though you have been committed to our school since the summer and have not visited other schools or pursued other options, now on signing day, we have changed our minds and no longer have a scholarship available for you. (spare me the "but we will give you a scholarship later" routine) Some would argue that this is more reprehensible, but not anyone from the Tuscaloosa area or apparently anyone at MrSEC.com

SEC fan
SEC fan

@BamaCLT@John Guess it is no surprise that the Bama fan doesn't get it: The deal is which is worse to do to a 17yo kid on signing day, question his honor, integrity, manhood, etc.. like Miles, Franklin and Mullen did or tell him that even though you have been committed to our school since the summer and have not visited other schools or pursued other options, now on signing day, we have changed our minds and no longer have a scholarship available for you. (spare me the "but we will give you a scholarship later" routine) Some would argue that this is more reprehensible, but not anyone from the Tuscaloosa area or apparently anyone at MrSEC.com.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

BamaCLT...

Nothing on this topic.

And I don't think Saban gets a pass from the media, either. High profile coaches and programs get more coverage and more scrutiny. Anyone suggesting Miles gets more scrutiny than Saban or vice-versa is seeing things through school-color-tinted glasses.

I keep an eye on all 12 schools and I sure don't think any coach is ripped more than another.

Thanks for reading,John

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