CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – It has been nearly three full years since Les Miles ingloriously left the college football sideline, fired from LSU after a September loss to Auburn in 2016. Miles took two full seasons off after that year, experimenting with a vegetarian diet, starring in beer commercials and discovering the joy of Lulu Lemon shorts.
Along the way, he discovered that all he really wanted to do was coach, and his best opportunity came at one of college football’s worst programs – woebegone Kansas.
The comeback of Les Miles, 65, began formally in November when he arrived in Lawrence. But he announced himself as back Friday night with his first signature victory, pummeling three-touchdown favorite Boston College, 48-24, to give Kansas a needed adrenaline shot of relevancy.
“It was a soft moment for me,” Miles told Yahoo Sports in a hallway after the game. “I saw our players who were celebrating and happy. It’s just what you wanted to be a part of. It’s why you came back.”
A viable and interesting Les Miles makes college football more fun. And it certainly makes Kansas football more interesting.
Miles told the team it could stay in Boston and go “out on the town” after the game if the Jayhawks won, joking after that he committed a potential NCAA violation. He also spent a few minutes postgame with two random Jayhawk fans – Boston University dental students – who sat with Miles’ wife and daughter, Kathy and Smacker, during the game and were deemed good-luck charms.
Kansas entered the game having lost 48 consecutive Power Five road games, a streak that stretched back to 2008. Miles ended that with alacrity, as the Jayhawks compiled 541 yards of offense. A week after scoring seven points in a brutal home loss to Coastal Carolina, Kansas somehow scored on seven straight possessions. (Miles deflected credit to defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot for shutting out BC in the second half.)
Tailbacks Khalil Herbert (187 yards on 11 carries) and Pooka Williams Jr. (121 yards) carried Kansas. Crafty senior quarterback Carter Stanley finished 20-of-27 for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
The only good thing for Boston College was that this game was broadcast on the ACC Network, which meant limited viewership. This will go down as the most dispiriting loss of Steve Addazio’s seven seasons at BC, as the Eagles’ defensive front got consistently mauled and the backend missed tackle after tackle. The offense disappeared. Addazio used the phrase “my responsibility” three times in his postgame news conference.
That left Miles with his 200th career victory, and a great postgame scene where he was FaceTiming with his youngest daughter Macy back in Lawrence on his other daughter Smacker’s phone as he walked into his new conference.
“I’m happy for him,” Kathy Miles told Yahoo Sports. “This is what he’s done his whole life.”
And Miles was happy to predict more eye-popping moments for Kansas.
“Those things are going to happen, more regularly with our program,” Miles said.
He added: “If anybody wants to know why a guy would come back, college football, this night tells you how important college football is.”
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