Jawhawk fans were as excited as an online casino fan receiving an Intertops Casino bonus when they met new Kansas football coach Les Miles on August 10 at the University of Kansas Football Fan Day. Miles signed autographs and chatted with the visitors alongside his players.
The annual Fan Day gives KU fans the chance to take photos of their favorite players and team coaches and other support staff, get autographs and collect memorabilia. Players, cheerleaders, coaches and even Baby Jay were in attendance to give fans a chance to meet the members of the 2019 roster and those behind them.
The Jayhawk team posed for pictures and played games with families as they strengthened the connection with their biggest supporters.
The Fan Day attendees are among the team’s biggest backers. One long-time fan, who has been following the team since his college days and now brings his wife and children to the games, came to show his enthusiasm for the team’s chances in the upcoming season. Miles has, he said, “picked up some good players….and he’ll draw good players in the future, particularly from Louisiana and Texas, I think.”
One of the women who attended the Football 101 event for female fans, agreed, saying that she’s optimistic about the energy Miles brings to the team. “My expectation is that I’d like to have a real good winning season and he’s such a positive coach.”
For some fans, offseason has taken on a surreal atmosphere. The hiring of Les Miles is bringing a great deal of excitement to the community. After 10 years of disappointment, there’s a new feeling of hope in the air. One observer expressed fans’ hopes. “For 10 years of bad football, I’m excited to see what Les Miles brings to the table,” the fan said. “And I’m hoping it will turn the program around to a bowl eligible team.”
His friend, who has been supporting the Jayhawks at home and in person at the games for many years, opinioned that “I think this (upcoming season) is kind of about installing the culture, just the expectations around here. So maybe the wins won’t come this year, but hopefully this can be a foundation-building year for the next few seasons to get more wins.”
Most of the people who came to fan day said that they wanted to see something different. One fan said bluntly “I think it’s just been so long since they’ve been good and competitive and now you’ve got a coach who, I don’t think anyone’s expecting an immediate turnaround and winning Big 12 championships or anything, but somebody who can put competitive teams on the field at the highest level. So, I’m just excited to see what he can do here.”
The new coach, Les Miles, is the reason for most of the excitement and optimism among Jayhawk fans. Miles played college football for the University of Michigan and then worked for the Michigan team as a coach. From there he went to the University of Colorado but returned to Michigan where, as assistant coach, he saw the Wolverines achieve eight consecutive winning seasons and bowl appearances.
After stints at the University of Colorado (again) and Oklahoma State, Miles spent some time with the Dallas Cowboys before being named as head coach for Oklahoma State. Three of Miles’ four seasons at Oklahoma state were winning seasons, earning the team invitations to the Houston, Cotton, and Alamo Bowls.
Miles really came into his own as the head football coach at Louisiana State University. During that first season, LSU won the 2005 SEC Western Division Title. They also won the Peach Bowl and finished the season with a 11-2 record. In 2006 LSU was invited to the Sugar Bowl.
Miles has gained attention for unconventional play calls but LSU continued to support him and he stayed as Tigers’ head coach until 2015. Now Kansas University is excited to have him on board to guide their team.