Les Miles

Les Miles
Miles as head coach of the LSU Tigers
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1953-11-10) November 10, 1953
Elyria, Ohio
Playing career
1974–1975 Michigan
Position(s) Offensive lineman
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1980–1981 Michigan (GA)
1982–1986 Colorado (OL)
1987–1994 Michigan (OL)
1995–1997 Oklahoma State (OC)
1998–2000 Dallas Cowboys (TE)
2001–2004 Oklahoma State
2005–2016 LSU
Head coaching record
Overall 141–55
Bowls 8–6
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (2007)
2 SEC (2007, 2011)
3 SEC Western Division (2005, 2007, 2011)
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award (2011)
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2011)
Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year Award (2011)
AFCA FBS Coach of the Year (2011)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2011)

Leslie Edwin Miles (born November 10, 1953) is an American football coach and former player and head coach. From 2005 to 2016 he was at LSU. Before his tenure at LSU, Miles was the coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2001 to 2004. Miles is nicknamed "The Hat" for his signature white cap, as well as "The Mad Hatter" for his eccentricities and play-calling habits.[1] Prior to being a head coach, he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State as well as at the University of Michigan, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). Miles led the 2007 LSU Tigers football team to a win in the BCS National Championship Game against Ohio State, 38–24.

Playing and assistant coaching career

Les Miles was born to Bubba, a long-haul trucking broker, and Martha Miles.[2] He earned all-state honors as a lineman in football[3] as well as letters in baseball and wrestling at Elyria High School in Ohio, graduating in 1972.[4][5] He attended the University of Michigan where he was a two-year letterman under head coach Bo Schembechler from 1974 to 1975. In 1980, Miles returned to Michigan as an assistant coach to Schembechler. He left Michigan in 1982 to coach at the University of Colorado, where fellow Michigan assistant Bill McCartney had just been named head coach. Coincidentally, one of his fellow assistants on the Colorado staff was another future LSU head coach, Gerry DiNardo, who coached at LSU from 1995–1999.

In 1987, Miles returned to Michigan, which was still being coached by Schembechler, as the offensive line coach. When Schembechler retired in 1990, Miles continued as offensive line coach under new head coach Gary Moeller. While Miles was a coaching assistant at Michigan, the Wolverines had eight consecutive winning seasons and bowl appearances, including four Rose Bowl appearances. In 1995, Moeller was forced to resign for non-football related reasons. At the same time, Miles had a rift with the University of Michigan, forcing him to seek employment elsewhere. Miles then accepted a promotion to offensive coordinator on former Colorado assistant Bob Simmons's staff at Oklahoma State. During the 1998 through 2000 seasons he was the tight ends coach for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys under head coaches Chan Gailey (1998–99) and Dave Campo (2000).

Head coaching career

Oklahoma State

Miles returned to Oklahoma State in 2001 as the head coach. In the three years prior to Miles's arrival in Stillwater, the Cowboys finished 5–6, 5–6, and 3–8. Oklahoma State posted another losing record (4–7) in Miles's first season at the helm, but subsequently achieved winning records during each of the following three seasons – 8–5, 9–4, and 7–5, respectively. His last three seasons at Oklahoma State ended in invitations to the Houston, Cotton, and Alamo Bowls, respectively.

During the last game of Miles's first season as head coach, Oklahoma State faced #4 Oklahoma. Despite the fact that Oklahoma State was facing Oklahoma on the road, Miles led his team to a 16–13 upset victory over the Sooners.

During Miles's second season, Oklahoma State again ended the regular season with a game against #3 Oklahoma. Yet again, Miles led his team to a 38–28 upset victory over the Sooners. As a result of his team's performance during his second year, Miles was named the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year by the Associated Press in 2002.

Allegations of Misconduct at Oklahoma State

In September 2013, Sports Illustrated published a series of articles[6] as part of an investigation of his tenure at Oklahoma State from 2001 to 2005.

The series alleged Oklahoma State used a bonus system for players, orchestrated by then-assistant coach Joe DeForest, along with direct payments and no-show or sham jobs involving boosters. Miles was accused of dismissing academic standards to the point of players playing who were otherwise academically ineligible, including having their school work done by so-called tutors and other school personnel. Rumors also alleged that the staff tolerated widespread drug abuse among the players by using a sham drug counseling program and selective drug enforcement. No evidence linked Miles to any wrongdoing during his time as head coach at OSU and he denied the allegations.

Sports Illustrated was later criticized for its lack of substantive evidence outside of interviews with disgruntled former players.[7]

Louisiana State University

On January 2, 2005, Miles was named as the 32nd head football coach of Louisiana State University. He replaced Nick Saban, who had left LSU to take over the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League. In August 2005, days before Miles was to make his debut as the coach of LSU, Hurricane Katrina struck southern Louisiana. LSU's first game, a home game against North Texas, was postponed until later in the season. The Tigers second game, which was against Arizona State, was moved from Baton Rouge to Tempe because the LSU campus was still serving as an emergency center for Hurricane Katrina relief. The conference opener against the University of Tennessee was also delayed, this time because of Hurricane Rita.

In his first season as head coach, LSU won the 2005 SEC Western Division title with a 10–1 regular season record – including wins over #15 Arizona State on September 10, #11 Florida on October 15, #16 Auburn on October 22, and #4 Alabama on November 12. LSU's only regular season loss was an upset at home to #10 Tennessee on September 26. In the Tennessee game, after building a 21–0 lead at halftime, the Tigers failed to score another touchdown and lost to Tennessee by a score of 30–27 in overtime. In the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the #3 LSU Tigers, though favored, lost to #13 Georgia 34–14. LSU recovered to win the 2005 Peach Bowl with a 40–3 rout of the #9 Miami Hurricanes. Miles finished his first season at LSU with an 11–2 record, a #6 ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and a #5 ranking in the AP Poll.

In 2006, LSU finished the regular season a 10-2 record, and ended the season with six straight victories. The 2006 season marked the first time in LSU history that the Tigers finished with back-to-back 10-win seasons. Miles was able to do this in spite of his team playing its four toughest games on the road. All four games were against teams ranked in the top eight when the game took place, with three of the teams in the top five (Auburn, Florida, Arkansas). LSU split those four games, losing to Auburn and Florida, but defeating Tennessee and Arkansas. LSU did not win the SEC West title, finishing one game behind Arkansas. However, the Tigers were ranked ahead of Arkansas at the end of the regular season, and were rewarded with an invitation to face Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, where they defeated the Irish by a score of 41–14. LSU finished the 2006 season ranked #3 overall in both the AP and ESPN polls.

In 2007, Miles gained national attention due to numerous unconventional play calls during nationally televised games. LSU was ranked #1 twice during the regular season, but lost at #17 Kentucky in triple overtime by a score of 43–37 before losing its final regular season game at home to unranked Arkansas 50–48, also in triple overtime. As of the end of the 2007 regular season, which featured victories over six different coaches with national championships, Miles's record as head coach at LSU was 34–6. Coincidentally, the 2007 regular season also ended with a loss to Arkansas in a game marked by several of Miles' hallmark unconventional calls. Despite the loss, LSU would go on to the SEC championship game. On the day of the SEC championship game, Kirk Herbstreit wrongly reported on ESPN's College GameDay that Les Miles had accepted an offer to succeed Lloyd Carr as the head coach at Michigan.[8] Despite the media distractions, LSU won the 2007 SEC title, beating Tennessee 21–14. The night of LSU's SEC title victory, the teams then ranked #1 (Missouri) and #2 (West Virginia) both lost, allowing LSU to be ranked #2 in the AP, Coaches, Harris, and BCS polls. LSU beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game 38–24, giving Miles his first national championship and LSU its third overall.

Michigan head coach speculation, 2007

Throughout the 2007 season, there was speculation that Miles would be a top candidate for the University of Michigan head coaching position if it became available. On the day of the SEC championship game, Kirk Herbstreit incorrectly reported on ESPN's College GameDay that Miles had accepted an offer to succeed Lloyd Carr as the head coach at the University of Michigan.[8] LSU officials quickly responded to Herbstreit's announcement and confirmed that Les Miles would not be taking the Michigan position and would be staying at LSU.[9] Miles cleared up any confusion himself in a last minute press conference to reporters saying,

"There was some misinformation on ESPN and I think it's imperative that I straighten it out. I am the head coach at LSU. I will be the head coach at LSU. I have no interest in talking to anybody else. I've got a championship game to play, and I am excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play in it. That's really all I'd like to say. It was unfortunate that I had to address my team with this information this morning. With that being done, I think we'd be ready to play. There will be no questions for me. I represent me in this issue. Please ask me after. I'm busy. Thank you very much. Have a great day."[10]

The speculation resurfaced two weeks later when The Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and university president Mary Sue Coleman spoke with Miles directly over the phone a few days after he signed a contract extension with LSU.[11] In response to the report, Miles issued a statement acknowledging the conversation, but claimed that he was merely offering advice and assistance to Martin on Michigan's search and that he is not a candidate for the vacancy. Miles reaffirmed his commitment to stay at LSU, declaring "I'm going to be the coach at LSU next season." [12] Any remaining speculation that Miles would still consider the job ended on December 16, 2007 when West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez accepted the head coaching job at Michigan.[13]

Michigan head coach speculation, 2011

Miles was again mentioned as a candidate for the head job when Rodriguez was fired after the 2010 season. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, who was a teammate of Miles at Michigan, reportedly flew to Baton Rouge to meet with Miles after LSU defeated Texas A&M in the 2011 Cotton Bowl Classic. An LSU spokesman confirmed that Miles was meeting with Michigan officials to discuss the vacancy, though Miles declined to identify whom he had met with or reveal the substance of the discussions.[14] Though some sources indicated that Miles would accept the Michigan job if it were offered to him and Baton Rouge radio station WJBO reported that Miles had already accepted the position, Miles again ultimately decided to stay at LSU.[15]

Michigan head coach speculation, 2014

With Michigan again struggling to have much success, this time with Brady Hoke, Miles's name came up again as being one of the first and only names to call according to ESPN.[16] On December 30, 2014, Michigan's head coaching position ultimately went to Jim Harbaugh with Miles praising the hiring.[17][18]

Speculation of dismissal, 2015

Having lost three straight games after a 7–0 start into the season, rumors were floating that LSU would buy-out Miles' contract after the 2015 season.[19] After a season-ending victory over Texas A&M, the athletic department announced they would retain Miles as head coach.[20]

Dismissal from LSU

On September 25, 2016, it was reported by multiple sources that LSU had fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after a 18–13 loss to Auburn the previous day and a 2–2 start to begin the season.[21]

Personal life

Miles is married, with four children. ESPN has positively cited him for the balance he maintains between his role as a head football coach and his role as husband and father.[22] Miles is involved in churches with his family and has described himself as a "strong Christian."[23]

LSU Lady Tigers gymnast, Lloimincia Hall, incorporated the famous 'Les Clap' hand gesture into her floor routine choreography.[24]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 Conference) (2001–2004)
2001 Oklahoma State 4–72–65th (South)
2002 Oklahoma State 8–55–3T–3rd (South)W Houston
2003 Oklahoma State 9–45–33rd (South)L Cotton
2004 Oklahoma State 7–54–45th (South)L Alamo
Oklahoma State: 28–2116–16
LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2005–2016)
2005 LSU 11–27–11st (Western)W Peach56
2006 LSU 11–26–2T–2nd (Western)W Sugar33
2007 LSU 12–26–21st (Western)W BCS NCG11
2008 LSU 8–53–53rd (Western)W Chick-fil-A
2009 LSU 9–45–32nd (Western)L Capital One1717
2010 LSU 11–26–2T–2nd (Western)W Cotton88
2011 LSU 13–18–01st (Western)L BCS NCG22
2012 LSU 10–36–2T–2nd (Western)L Chick-fil-A1213
2013 LSU 10–35–33rd (Western)W Outback1414
2014 LSU 8–54–4T–4th (Western)L Music City
2015 LSU 9–35–3T–3rd (Western)W Texas1716
2016 LSU 2–21–1(Western)
LSU: 114–3462–28
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Coaching tree

Below is a list of assistant coaches under Miles who, since coaching on Miles' staff, have become head coaches

  • Mike Gundy: Oklahoma State (2005–present) – Miles' offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2001–2004.
  • Jimbo Fisher: Texas A&M (2018–present) – Miles' offensive coordinator at LSU from 2005–2006.
  • Bo Pelini: Nebraska (2008–2014), Youngstown State (2015–present) – Miles' defensive coordinator at LSU from 2005–2007.
  • Larry Porter: Memphis (2010–2011) – Miles' running backs coach at Oklahoma State and LSU from 2002–2009. Porter currently serves as running backs coach at North Carolina under head coach Larry Fedora, a Mike Gundy protege (Fedora served as Gundy's offensive coordinator from 2005–2007).
  • Bradley Dale Peveto: Northwestern State (2009–2012) – Defensive assistant under Miles from 2005–2008, currently serving at (2018) Texas A&M as special teams and linebackers coach.
  • Todd Monken: Southern Mississippi (2013–2015) – Wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator under Miles at Oklahoma State and LSU from 2002–2006.
  • Frank Wilson: UTSA (2016–present) - Associate head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator under Miles at LSU from 2010-2015.


  1. "Maddening, eccentric, mocked – Miles a coach in a league of his own". CNN. 3 October 2010.
  2. "Les Miles: Heart And Heartbreak". 8 January 2012.
  3. "Chronicle-Telegram". Chronicle-Telegram.
  4. "Les Miles gives commencement speech. Hilarity ensues!". bloguin.com.
  5. "Ohio hometown left mark on LSU coach Miles".
  6. "Special Report on Oklahoma State Football: The Overview". Sports Illustrated. September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  7. Cosentino, Dom. "Why SI's Oklahoma State Series Sucked: The Inside Story".
  8. 1 2 "Source: Miles to announce he's staying at LSU". ESPN.com. 1 December 2007.
  9. "Les Miles expected to shun Michigan, has agreement to stay at LSU". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 29 January 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  10. "This Is The Place I Want To Be". The Advocate. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  11. "Michigan contacted LSU coach Les Miles last week".
  12. "Miles: I'm LSU coach, not a candidate at Michigan". ESPN.com. 11 December 2007.
  13. "Rodriguez leaving West Virginia for Michigan". ESPN.com. 16 December 2007.
  14. "Source: Miles will remain coach at LSU". ESPN.com. December 1, 2007.
  15. Trenton Tribune (January 8, 2011). "Louisiana sports talk host confident Les Miles is headed to Michigan".
  16. Travis Haney (October 7, 2014). "Who should replace Brady Hoke?". ESPN. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  17. "Jim Harbaugh Named Michigan Head Football Coach". MGoBlue.com. CBS Interactive. December 30, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  18. "LSU coach Les Miles says 'Go Blue!' on Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh".
  19. "Sources: No decision made, but Les Miles likely to be let go soon". ESPN. November 27, 2015.
  20. "Les Miles resolution puts end to embarrassing chapter at LSU". ESPN. November 28, 2015.
  21. "LSU Fires Head Coach Les Miles". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  22. Thompson, Wright (2011-11-04). "The Les you know". ESPN.com.
  23. Doucet, Jacques; Michelet, Kirk (2011-06-29). "Les Miles talks religion and family". WAFB-TV Channel 9 (CBS). Baton Rouge. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  24. "Les Miles loves LSU gymnast's tribute to Les Miles".
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