LAWRENCE, Kan. – Les Miles, a national championship-winning former coach at Louisiana State and Oklahoma State, has been named the new head football coach at the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics Director Jeff Long announced Sunday.
Miles will be formally introduced at a press conference today at 5 p.m. He will then do a special “Hawk Talk” radio show at 7 p.m. from Johnny’s West restaurant in West Lawrence.
With Miles’ hiring, Kansas becomes the only university in the country that can boast a current men’s basketball coach with an NCAA Division I Championship and a football coach with an FBS Championship.
Miles will receive a five-year contract that will pay him $2,775,000 annually, with additional retention bonuses due in Nov. 2020 and Nov. 2022.
“Since the beginning of our search, we focused on identifying and recruiting an experienced head coach with a strong track record of success on and off the field,” Long said. “Les Miles is exactly what we need for our program right now. His national reputation as a great recruiter and as a coach who student-athletes love playing for will enable us to break the cycle and return a winning tradition to the Kansas Jayhawks. We are thrilled to have Les and his family as Jayhawks.”
Miles brings to Lawrence 142 victories, a BCS national championship and two SEC titles in 15-plus seasons as a head coach, the most career wins of anyone who has coached football at Kansas in the modern era.
Most recently, Miles served as the head coach at LSU (2005-16), where his teams averaged 10 wins per year in his 11 full seasons. He led LSU to bowl games in each of those 11 seasons (winning seven), and won 42 games against Top-25 teams and 16 over Top-10 teams. Miles’ teams won 10 or more games seven times, reached the SEC title game three times (winning twice) and led LSU to five Top-10 and three Top-5 finishes.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the KU football program and I am grateful to Chancellor Girod and Jeff Long for the opportunity,” said Miles. “We will bring Jayhawk Football back and we will do it with outstanding coaches, tremendous student-athletes of character and ability and an unrelenting drive for excellence. My family and I cannot wait to be a part of the KU family!”
During his tenure at LSU, Miles coached an SEC-leading 69 NFL draft picks, 13 of them first-round selections. He coached 22 first-team All-Americans and 11 players who won national awards. He is the second-winningest coach in LSU history in overall wins (112) and SEC regular-season wins (63).
In the classroom, more than 240 players earned degrees under Miles and during his tenure, LSU Football’s graduation rate ranked as high as No. 2 in the SEC multiple times. As part of LSU’s Project Graduation established in 2010, more than 30 players who had left school without a degree returned to earn their college diploma before Miles left in 2016. Nearly 190 LSU players were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll during Miles’ time there.
“I want to thank Jeff Long for his outstanding work and leadership of our Athletics’ program. I also want to thank the student-athletes in our football program for the mature way in which they have handled this challenging circumstance. I have no doubt that Coach Miles will have an immediate impact on our football program, and on our university,” Chancellor Girod said. “Together as Jayhawks, we will rebuild our football program the right way, winning championships and continuing to graduate young men of character. Today is an exciting day for the KU Family.”
Miles went to LSU after a four-year tenure as head coach at Oklahoma State. The OSU program he took over in 2001 had registered only one winning season since 1988. The Cowboys went 4-7 his first year, then had three-straight winning seasons (8-5, 9-4, 7-5). He led OSU to three-straight bowl games, a first for the program since 1983-85.
Miles’ four-year winning percentage of 57 percent is the best career winning percentage for an OSU coach since 1949. OSU was the only team in the nation to beat Oklahoma twice during Miles’ four-year tenure there.
Prior to OSU, Miles spent three years as tight-ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys (one divisional title, two playoff appearances). He went to Dallas after serving as offensive coordinator at OSU for three seasons (8-3, Alamo Bowl berth in 1997).
Miles served two stints (total of 10 seasons) as an assistant coach at Michigan, several of them under legendary head coach Bo Schembechler. During Miles’ second tenure there, from 1987-94, Michigan won 71 games, made eight-straight bowl appearances, including four Rose Bowls, and finished no lower than No. 21 in the final Associate Press national rankings.
Between tenures at Michigan, Miles spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Colorado.
Miles graduated from Michigan in 1976 with a degree in economics. He was a two-year football letterman, playing on two Big Ten championship teams. He earned all-state honors in football at Elyria High School in Ohio, where he also earned letters in baseball and wrestling.
Miles’ wife, Kathy, was a point guard at Central Michigan University and later an assistant basketball coach at Michigan. They have two daughters, Kathryn (nickname “Smacker”), a former swimmer at Texas and currently a TV sports personality who hosts Les’ podcast), and Macy, a youth softball pitching standout. They also have two sons, Manny, a quarterback at North Carolina, and Ben, who won a high-school football state title in 2015 and is currently a fullback at Texas A&M.