In college football, there's the drumbeat that defines big-time coaches...
The game withers people, literally. Urban Meyer retired after he found himself dropping weight, unable to eat. One look at the tortured face of his replacement, Will Muschamp, and it's easy to predict a similar end. The state flower of the college football meeting room should be an empty Red Bull can half-filled with dip spit. ... The game becomes a crack house for those addicted to competition, days marked by caffeine and stress, the random nature of a game turning ordinary people into miserable control freaks.
...And then there's strange music that must be playing in Les Miles' head.
Miles often seems joyful on the sideline, what with the grass and the elaborate fakes. He takes an afternoon to make goofy Internet videos with his children, and when the shoot ends, he gushes, "That was a great day!" He doesn't have an ulcer. Smiles come easily, almost too easily. It's got to be an act, right? There must be a skeleton somewhere, because football coaches are not supposed to be happy.
"You think I had fun today?" he says. "Let me tell you, I had a blast today.
The first thing you notice following around Les Miles is his odd sense of humor. He's quick. He's goofy. He takes as good as he gives, playing along with a reporter's gag about his wife, Kathy, taking all his money and running off with a yoga instructor. It's often hard to tell who's the adult and who's the kid. "You don't see too many head coaches at this level," says his lifelong friend John Wangler, "standing in line to go down the Slip 'n Slide."