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Kansas reportedly finalizing a deal with Les Miles: one case for it, one case against it

It might work. It might not!

LSU v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kansas has reportedly inked a deal with former LSU coach Les Miles.

This comes a couple days after Miles and LSU settled the remaining terms of his buyout in a way that suggested Miles would return to coaching. Miles left $5 million of $6.5 million LSU still owed him on the table — money that would’ve been subject to an offset requirement if he’d gotten another job.

Sports Illustrated reported Friday:

Kansas is finalizing a deal to make Les Miles the new leader of the Jayhawks football program, multiple sources told Sports Illustrated. An announcement could come as soon as this weekend. Kansas athletic director Jeff Long and Miles both did not return requests for comment.

He’d been the betting favorite on online sportsbook Bovada throughout Friday, before odds were taken down shortly before SI’s report.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd also reported the following on Nov. 16:

An agreement between the parties is in place but it’s “just a matter of working out the details. A formal deal is imminent, another source confirmed.

Miles landing another job isn’t surprising. He hasn’t been coaching since he was fired from LSU in 2016, and he had a 77 percent winning percentage in Baton Rouge. Not to mention Miles and KU athletic director Jeff Long have a history — in 2012, Long tried to sway Miles to take the Arkansas job, but hired Bret Bielema instead.

Is this a good idea?

One argument for Miles: He should increase national interest, and he might be able to fix Kansas’ biggest problem.

He’d appear to fit all these criteria, from Long’s perspective:

Miles is still one of the more popular head coaches in college football — from his fan favorite rants about Columbus Day, famous grass eating that’s been parodied in commercials, and just overall likability, the fan interest would absolutely be there.

But Kansas’ tangible problems lie with the roster itself, more than a lack of excitement. When Beaty took over in 2015, he had just 39 scholarship players on the roster out of the 85 available in FBS. Beaty’s only gotten so far in filling out a truly FBS-worthy roster. From Kansas blog Rock Chalk Talk:

No doubt included in this decision [to fire Beaty], however, was the pretty obvious clock management issues, substitution errors, timeout mismanagement, fourth down playcalling, and the inability to settle on a quarterback. These were all issues that cropped up in year one and just simply were never improved upon.

Additionally, the state of the 2019 recruiting class (one verbal commit) and the questionable decision to go back to recruiting Juco players over the past two years (24 jucos vs 21 HS players since 2017) means that the roster situation has not been improved from the Charlie Weis era.

Miles has many years of head coaching experience and proven history as a strong recruiter, including some roots in Big 12 country from his time at Oklahoma State and nearby at LSU. He could probably stabilize just about any program’s overall roster situation.

An argument against Miles for this job: His style might not give the Jayhawks the main thing they’ve been missing — wins.

At LSU, Miles won games by recruiting the best athletes, lining them up, and simply having better players than almost any team on the schedule. For LSU, that worked against almost everyone but Alabama.

Those are really hard things to do at a place like Kansas. More from Rock Chalk Talk:

I, however, have my concerns [about Miles]. For one, it’s a LOT easier to recruit at LSU. Plus, it seems to me like he had a lot of gameday issues at LSU, such as, couldn’t find a quarterback, questionable clock management, and etc. Sound like anyone you know? Miles will have been out of coaching for three years by the end of the 2018 season.

Look, no one wants to see Miles back in college football more than I do.

If KU were to expect him to come in and right the ship before passing it along to someone younger who’d embrace underdog tactics, that could be a winning move.

But he’ll have to evolve his style greatly in order to be the one who wins a lot of games in Lawrence. During his last attempt to land a head coaching gig, he indicated he’d be interested in opening up his offense and hiring an OC in Lincoln Riley’s mold.

That would be an encouraging step.