Once upon a time, Kansas head coach Les Miles was at Oklahoma State, and he was a lot more outspoken about playing Oklahoma than he is this time around.
Miles leads the Kansas Jayhawks into Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Jayhawks are 0-6 and still looking for their first win of the 2020 season. This is Miles second full season at Kansas. In 14 Big 12 games over that time, Kansas has won once under Miles.
During the time Miles has been at Kansas, Oklahoma is 11-3 against Big 12 opponents.
Miles has been a college head coach for 18 seasons, but where he really made his mark was the 12 seasons he was at LSU, where he achieved an overall record of 114-34, including a national championship in 2007 and two Southeastern Conference championships (2007 and 2011 ).
Before LSU, however, Miles spent two different stints on the Oklahoma State coaching staff. He served as offensive coordinator for three seasons in the mid-1990s. After a three-year stretch from 1998-2000 as tight end coach for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, Miles switched his allegiance to another group of Cowboys. He was named head coach at Oklahoma State in 2001.
In Miles’ first season at OSU, in 2001, the Cowboys were just 4-7, but they were a combined 24-14 the next three seasons, including a pair of wins over ranked Oklahoma teams. OSU defeated No. 4 Oklahoma 16-13 in Norman in 2002, costing the Sooners a chance to play for the national championship.
The following season, the Cowboys made it two in a row over Bob Stoops and the Sooners, winning 38-28 in Stillwater.
It’s fairly easy to understand why Miles was feeling pretty pompous about his team’s chances going up against the then-No. 1 ranked Sooners in early November 2003. Oklahoma sported an 8-0 record going into the game and it was OU’s year to host the annual Bedlam football rivalry.
Miles’ 2003 Cowboys’ squad was 7-1 and ranked 14th in the AP poll.
In the week leading up to the 2003 OU-OSU showdown in Norman, Miles had this to say to reporters about the game:
“(On) Saturday, two teams are going to play. One is maybe the best team in college football, and the other one is a darn good football team. We’re going to play to figure out which is which.”
Needless to say, Miles’ ill-advised comment became bulletin board material in the Oklahoma locker room.
The game was played on a sunny fall afternoon before 81,000 fans at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and a national television audience (ABC), and Oklahoma decisively answered the question that Miles had posed earlier in the week.
Final score: Oklahoma 52, Oklahoma State 9
Miles has been much more reserved about this weekend’s return trip to the Palace on the Prairie. I “always respected” the Sooners, the Kansas head coach said this week. “I think they’re a quality football team with quality guys.”
Sounds pretty certain Miles has a definitive understanding this time which team is which.