Yes, Les Miles has been known to snack on grass — honest to goodness natural turf — during college football practices and games.
“This is true, very true,” Miles’ daughter, former University of Texas swimmer Kathryn “Smacker” Miles, said with a smile on Sunday, after her dad was introduced as Kansas’ 40th football coach at a news conference in Hadl Auditorium adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.
“He first did it on the sideline during a game (in 2010 at LSU). He didn’t expect it to be caught on camera,” Smacker Miles explained. “Then they asked him about it in the press conference after the game. He just played it off. It stuck with him. He is a big green juice health nut. The idea he actually didn’t mind tasting grass was shocking at first, but now I’m like, oh of course.”
Les Miles, who won a national championship at LSU in 2007, also has grabbed headlines for dancing on the sidelines.
“He’s done a little side step, when a guy was running down the sideline,” the 24-year-old 2017 Texas graduate said of her 65-year-old dad.
“He does (dance with wife and two daughters). Can he? That’s a complicated question,” she added, jokingly, while also confirming the fact Les rappelled a 24-story building in 2013.
“That has been done. It was to raise money for adoption. He is very into supporting causes,” Smacker Miles said.
A member of the media — she is a sideline reporter at high school games in Baton Rouge, La., and hosts a podcast with her papa — Smacker Miles said her father’s big passion is football. And yes, he has missed it since his firing at LSU during the 2016 season.
“It’s crazy because the last couple of (job) cycles it didn’t feel right. I don’t mean he didn’t want it (to fill possible job openings) or wasn’t interested, but it just wasn’t the right time,” Smacker Miles said, not mentioning any specific jobs.
“At the beginning of this season I could kind of see he was different about football. He was more interested in watching random games, more energized about it. The fire left in him was very blatant in the sense I realized he’s not going to be able to not do this (coach again), because he needs this,” she added.
Smacker Miles said the KU opening definitely caught his attention.
“He did (want this job),” she said. “He wanted to work for an athletic director that was going to be supportive and going to have a similar vision to the one he has. The idea that him and (KU athletic director) Jeff Long agreed on so many things was exactly what he was looking for. So in that sense, yes, Kansas was the perfect place.”
As a media member, Smacker Miles was in a perfect spot to break a major story the past couple weeks … had she chosen to do so. She knew exactly what was going on during Long’s search for a head coach.
“Oh I could have broken the news. I have no interest in that, none at all,” Smacker Miles said. “I could have broken a lot of news in the last week. That’s really not what I want to do as a journalist either. It’s interesting. That’s some people’s passion. For me it’s more telling the deep story. No, I wasn’t tempted (to report dad’s hiring) and I have so much respect for Mr. Jeff Long I wanted him to announce everything.”
Smacker Miles was touched that her dad confided with her about the goings-on of the last couple weeks.
“He appreciates my advice because he knows I understand the media world and that I’m very in tune with it as far as being official media and even giving him reports at times,” said Smacker Miles, who worked prep games for the company YurView this past season in Louisiana.
“Actually this has been really eye opening and fun to be a part of. I’d describe it being almost like a war room in the NFL draft. Draft scenes you’ve seen were very similar to what we were feeling and experiencing.
“You guys hear the breaking news and do the best to cover it, but being on the inside, knowing that it still does take a little bit of time for it to actually get out. The actual breaking news is when it is breaking in our house, when the paper (contract) is signed kind of thing. Negotiations, is it good? Is it not good? It was interesting to be part of. It was fun,” she added.
Smacker Miles — she wore a KU-blue coat to her dad’s news conference after purchasing it back home in Baton Rouge — said her dad asked her a poignant question near the end of KU’s search for a coach.
“He was asking, ‘Do you want me to do this? Do you think this is a good idea? Will you cheer for us?’’’ she said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? Of course I’m going to wear your colors. I’m going to do anything to help you and Kansas have success. This is about you and your happiness. Mom (Kathy) and Macy (Smacker’s younger sister) are going to be happy (in Lawrence). Are you going to be happy?’”
Smacker said: “For him to be happy he was going to coach. I wanted him to be happy.”
She said KU and her dad — a person she describes as “in our family, the doctor, the lawyer, the professor, the dad, the protector, the safety guard” — will be a great fit.
“I think he’s a great Big 12 coach,” said Smacker, who also has two brothers, Manny and Ben, who play college football at North Carolina and Texas A&M respectively. Mom Kathy is a former assistant basketball coach at Michigan.
“I think he did great things at Oklahoma State (prior to LSU). I didn’t understand at the time. I think he’s as good an ‘underdog coach’ as anything else. I think people don’t realize, behind the scenes after a loss, motivating a team in the offseason and commitment to the team, getting them to believe in themselves, believe they can do it. I think those are all some of his strengths in coaching. I understand people are, ‘Oh it’s the Big 12 not the SEC.’ I think it lines up much more than people expect.”
She concluded by saying: “This is not about him winning. He thinks an inspired team can make an impact.”