Former Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles is still around and still making news heading into the 2017 football season as a TV analyst, he does a little reminiscing about his time in Stillwater and we remember a few practices that went really long.
It's kind of funny but just today (Tuesday, July 11) former Oklahoma State head coach Les Miles has crossed my desk twice. Miles is going to do broadcast work this upcoming football season, but Miles would really prefer to be on the sidelines again as soon as possible. I have always liked Miles and his wife, Kathy, and the kids. Miles served as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before moving on to coach tight ends for the Dallas Cowboys. He left, according to Les, so he could get back to Stillwater and darn if he wasn't right. Miles could see that Bob Simmons wasn't going to last and he was there to swoop up the head coaching job when Simmons was let go. OSU fans can thank Miles and as he brought back Mike Gundy and help groom him for the head coaching job that he has had for the past 12-years with more success than any coach in Oklahoma State history. Miles most recently bit the bullet at LSU as he was fired during last season oddly enough because he couldn't seem to get the quarterback situation right and the offense out of a three or 300-yards and a cloud of dust mode running the football with not enough balance throwing the ball.
That leads me to Miles getting credit from Sports Illustrated senior writer and Monday Morning Quarterback column contributor Jenny Vrentas. I know, a Sports Illustrated writer, not exactly a paragon of virtue in journalism around Stillwater parts. Jenny had nothing to do with the ill-fated The Dirty Game series of OU superfan turned sports writer and now sports agent Thayer Evans and Pulitzer Award winner George Dohrmann. Jenny gets it as her Twitter account quotes former Washington Redskins head coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs. Gibbs said that in football as a head coach you are never more than two hours away from disaster and Vrentas comes back with, "sports writing, too."
Vrentas, I think writing with some tongue in cheek, that Miles, while offensive coordinator at OSU, had a stroke of luck that might only fall into a coach's lap once in his career as the top quarterback in the state lived just a few doors down in his neighborhood. Those of us graybeards covering the Cowboys remember as Miles could come out in his front yard and recruit the son of baseball head coach Tom Holliday. Oldest son Josh was also a good quarterback, but built more to play catcher at OSU and is now Oklahoma State's baseball head coach. However, current New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Holliday was 6-5 and 200 pounds. He had thrown for 6,211-yards in high school for the Stillwater Pioneers and threw 68 touchdown passes. His final three came in a 43-42 comeback win in the playoffs over powerhouse Tulsa Union. Jenks eliminated the Pioneers in the semifinals the next week.
In a column on the Monday Morning Quarterback site, Vrentas documents how Miles was able to totally blister the NCAA recruiting rules of one visit a week during the height of recruiting season and Holliday was one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation.
Miles would take a walk down his Stillwater, Okla., block, wrote Vrentas. Miles grabbed the pad of paper next to the Hollidays’ telephone and, over meatballs, drew up plays—a lot of pass plays—that he just knew would light up OSU’s Lewis Field. The quarterback’s dad still remembers the optimism that flew around their kitchen table (We’ll lead the nation in scoring!).
Miles still remembers how well Holliday slung the football. “Boy,” Miles says wistfully to Vrentas, “he could really whistle it.”
Thanks to an archive feature from good friend and outstanding high school sports expert reporter Van Shea Iven and his show from a few years ago Van Shea Iven's High School Sports Express we get a taste of the prepster Matt Holliday.
Miles went to Dallas, you know the move that he made so he could come back as head coach of which he made as good on his word as General Douglas MacArthur. Holliday was drafted in the seventh round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Colorado Rockies and after a week or so of contemplation decided to go baseball. Now 2,056 hits, 1,140 runs, a career .302 average and 310 home runs with 1,200 RBI, Holliday is big league baseball star.
Miles says he could still be playing in the NFL if he had gone football and he would have played for Miles as his head coach and Mike Gundy as his quarterback coach if Simmons had gone the way he did.
Current LSU head coach Ed Orgeron was at SEC Media Days on Monday and professed that he loved Les Miles and he thanked him for hiring him, but easy Ed was more than happy to take over when Miles was axed. Orgeron said one of the things he immediately did was shorten practices and that helped provide momentum as the Tigers improved somewhat overnight.
There is proof at Oklahoma State in what Ed said about shortening practice. Mike Gundy did the same thing when Miles left for LSU and he took over. He told the players that if they would hustle from drill to drill, period to period in practice that they would never practice more than two hours and 30 minutes and most would be around two hours, maybe a little longer and even shorter.
Gundy has kept to his word. Miles was famous for long practices, three hours, three and a half hours, some approaching four hours. The man loved to practice and didn't seem to hear the complaints from players. Most of the rest of us did.
Still, Miles has a solid place in Oklahoma State football history even if he never did coach Matt Holliday. Another Stillwater quarterback and eventual MLB player did just fine for Miles, Gundy, and the Cowboys in Josh Fields.