KU introduces Les Miles as he returns to coaching

His longtime friend and new boss, Jeff Long, handed him the definitive white hat.

"You're looking good, coach," Long said.

Then Les Miles, who's been out of a job since September of 2016, took the podium for the first time as the Kansas Jayhawks' head football coach. A national champion who didn't expect to be out of coaching this long then spoke and took questions, explaining how he sees an opportunity in what's been a losing program.

"I always believed that at some point in time a choice gets down to the credential that I'm going to have as I go forward, and I think that this, I think the Kansas credential is spectacular," Miles said.

Long going to Kansas as its athletics director helped bring the former LSU coach back to the sidelines. The two's close friendship goes back to their days together at the University of Michigan. Now, it comes to the forefront at KU.

"When Jeff Long went there, I knew I'd be able to communicate with him," Miles said. "I knew that he and I are cut from the same cloth."

"Whenever I've had a coaching opening, why wouldn't you look at Les Miles," Long said. "He's successful in every area you want to have success in."

Miles' credentials, ones that include two SEC titles and 14 bowl appearances, certainly display that. But his offensive struggles in the latter years of his time at LSU show the big thing he needs to improve to succeed with the Jayhawks.

Following their national championship win in 2007, the best the Tigers ranked nationally in passing offense was just 45th in 2013. They ranked 67th or worse in every other year.

Miles contends he found ways to win anyway, but also admits he's had to reexamine his offensive approach.

"I did very much look to myself and what I needed to change to make me more successful as an offensive coach," Miles said. "When we had passers, we threw it. When we had guys that could not throw the ball well, we ran the football and won 10 a year."

If he comes close to that at a place that's won just 10 games since 2014, his KU tenure will be a wild success. And he doesn't believe the Jayhawks are that far away.

"This place is a recruiting class or two away from being a very special football team," Miles said. "I watched that Oklahoma game and in the first half, that Kansas team was wearing them out."

That game ended like so many have for KU recently: with a loss. But as you looked out at a packed Johhny's West Tavern in Lawrence on Sunday Night for the first edition of Hawk Talk with the new Kansas football coach, you saw a couple other things.

A standing ovation for Miles from what host Brian Hanni called the biggest Hawk Talk crowd he's ever seen. A freshly hired coach who repeatedly praised the fans applauding.

And finally, an actual buzz for Kansas football.

"The national profile of our football program has improved immediately and dramatically today," Long said.

"This place has a specialness to it," Miles said. "And frankly, it needs to be brought out."