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Les Miles' Futile Case for the College Football Hall of Fame

Les Miles
© Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SPORTS

Former Oklahoma State Cowboy, LSU Tiger and Kansas Jayhawk coach Les Miles is currently in the process of suing LSU, the NCAA and the National Football Foundation, alleging that the 37 wins vacated from his overall coaching record were vacated improperly.

He currently sits on the cusp of College Football Hall of Fame eligibility with an overall record of 108-73 (.597), just putting him below the .600 minimum win-loss percentage to be considered for nomination.

This, however, is not the only reason Miles shouldn't even sniff the Hall of Fame. Unlike former Texas Tech Red Raider and Mississippi State Bulldog coach Mike Leach, who also sits at the brink of nomination at .596 win-loss percentage and has many fighting for his spot, the vast majority of the college football world does not think fondly of Miles. There are multiple reasons for this and they are not only reasons why Miles's lawsuit may be a futile effort, but here's why Miles doesn't deserve a spot in the Hall.

The Story of Vadal Alexander

In June 2019, a story was brought to light that alleged the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander accepted booster funds equating to approximately $180,000 from John Paul Funes, an LSU booster. At the time, Funes was in court for allegedly embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Our Lady of the Lake Hospitals, eventually being convicted of wire fraud and money laundering. Funes had allegedly given money from his embezzlement efforts to Alexander's father, which is where the $180,000 allegedly came from.

Miles had allegedly knew about this transaction and about Funes's embezzlement efforts before he was prosecuted. An investigation was launched by both the NCAA and LSU, where it was found that Miles actively engaged in Level 1 recruiting violations during his time at LSU, this incident being included. The NCAA and LSU came to an agreement to strip Miles of 37 wins during the time that Alexander was at LSU.

Miles and his attorneys have since denied that Miles had any fault in the matter and that the "Defendants stripped (Les) Miles of his established eligibility for the College Football Hall of Fame without an opportunity to be heard," according to the lawsuit.

While college football has had no shortage of scandals getting swept under the rug or ignored, it really isn't all that often that the NCAA and school agree that a coach should be punished in a mutual investigation. While it will be dealt with in a court of law, the investigation put Miles at fault, so as of now, he was an alleged accomplice to Funes's embezzlements from a hospital charity to fund his college football program.

Frankly speaking, this act alone, should it be true, is enough for the College Football Hall of Fame to keep him out, but that isn't the only scandal that Miles has been a part of.

The Other Scandals of Miles

After Miles was fired by LSU in September 2016, he stepped away from coaching. However, in 2018, Kansas was looking for a coach. With new athletic director Jeff Long having Southeastern Conference roots as well as knowing Miles for more than 30 years, Long selected Miles to become the next Kansas coach.

Kansas had struggled mightily for about a decade to that point, not producing a winning record since 2008. With Miles having gotten to two national championships and winning one, this seemed like a home run hire. Miles would be the man who brought back Kansas football.

Les Miles

The problem was that Miles had little experience developing a winning program, the keyword being "developing." At Oklahoma State, Miles posted above-average records of 4-7, 8-5, 9-4, and 7-5 as well as a 1-2 bowl record, but only stuck around for four fairly unimpressive years. Even at LSU, where there had been success preexisting to the point where Miles didn't need to develop hardly anything when he got there and all he had to do was maintain, there were still threats of him leaving. In 2007, rumors floated that Miles was entertaining offers from the Michigan Wolverines, a rumor that recirculated in 2010.

When all was said and done, Miles did stick around LSU for more than a decade, but once again, really only maintained an already winning program during his tenure. In the years before Miles, LSU was still a winner under Nick Saban. His skills at developing players and maintaining a culture were hardly tested because of the reputation LSU had developed under Saban.

This would be a test for Miles, a test that he miserably failed, going just 3-18 in his two-year tenure with the Jayhawks. While he brought attention from highly-touted recruits like Ja'marr Chase and Keon Coleman to Kansas, he was never able to secure signings from those players. He was alleged to be "not all there" when coaching and to have said outlandish things in team meetings and press conferences.

That's not what only made him a bad curator of culture and development though, as the scandals that he faced while at Kansas left an infamous legacy. In March 2021, it surfaced that Miles had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with LSU staffers back in 2012, creating a chauvinistic, secretive and predatory culture in the university's football program. Kansas and Miles agreed to mutually part ways following Miles's alleged lack of transparency and overall demeanor regarding this issue.

This bad culture did not stop with LSU, however, as at Kansas Miles had allegedly ignored attempts to bring hazing and harassment allegations to light from multiple Kansas football players, even reportedly trying to persuade one with money to leave campus and take classes online. Many Kansas players got in trouble with the law under Miles's tenure as well and the culture of Kansas football resembled that of unorganized chaos.

Even at Oklahoma State, scandals surfaced that Miles had allegedly thrown academic standards out the window for his players, as well as tolerated drug abuse, impermissible financial benefits from boosters and encouraged overall chaos in his locker room. Miles has since denied all of these allegations, but the fact of the matter is that they exist and that Miles has this streak of poor culture standards to his name.

Lack of Accountability

Obviously there are plenty of coaches that have had culture issues that still made their respective Hall of Fames. Even this year, former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame and has had multiple scandals alleged against him, something that may keep him out as well. The only difference is the vacated wins.

However, concerning Miles, not only does he have the lack of accountability and transparency in dealing with these situations (something that also sets him apart from those nominated and already inducted), but these are situations that have created bad environments at every single place he has been a coach at. He is more worried about saving his own vanity and pride than he is at providing justice and being a true leader of young men. Rather odd play-calling and boisterous, outlandish press moments aside, Miles simply couldn't get out of his own way in leading young men and leading college football programs.

If Miles wants any shot at the College Football Hall of Fame, then he must understand that he needs to take accountability for his actions and cooperate fully with the legal process. No one is out to get him, the legal process just needs to run its course, but it seemingly looks like Miles is paranoid that those who accuse him of these things are out on a witch hunt, which is simply not the case.

College football and college athletics were different while Miles was coach, many of these scandals were more normalized back then, but that didn't make them okay and the fact that Miles has been so uncooperative in settling these affairs shows more about his character than anything he did on the field.

In the end, scandals are what they are and Miles is innocent until proven guilty, but when there's smoke, there's fire, and the trail that Miles has left as well as his lack of truly developing a winning program as a proven leader (to a much lesser degree than the previous point) shows that his legacy is not worthy of being in the College Football Hall of Fame.


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