We interrupt our regularly scheduled Mike Riley Monday to circle back to Plan B.
Nebraska + Les Miles.
What say you, Mad Hatter?
“Well, no one has ever asked me, period,” Miles, the former LSU and Oklahoma State coach and current television analyst, told Land of 10 recently. “So I kind of like it that way. I think that’s the best way to go.
“One thing about me is, I’m a coach, and I’m rooting for coaches. And I [understand] how difficult it is to win, and I want the team that deserves to win to win … and I want fairness. But I don’t necessarily point at coaches that I want to lose. That is not how I feel.
“Certainly, Mike Riley has done a good job recruiting my son. I want them to win … and to turn Nebraska into the sort of team that it’s always been.”
He doesn’t duck the question, even though it’s … awkward. Miles’ son, Ben, is a freshman Cornhuskers fullback, a redshirt and one of the showcase commitments from a star-studded Class of 2017. The Hatter is a Nebraska dad, first and foremost, and he’s more focused on that as opposed to whether he’s the next Nebraska savior.
Ben, call your daD…..
— Les Miles (@CoachLesMiles) November 3, 2017
“Ben’s going to practice, listening to the coaches,” the 64-year-old coach said of his son, a 210-pound hammer out of Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic High who also entertained offers from Boston College, LSU, Michigan State and Purdue before landing with the Big Red. “They’re letting people’s opinions inside that team room guide his focus, and that’s the way things will be. They beat a much-improved Purdue team and they have the opportunity to be better and better.
“Whatever happens there, right now … [it’s] certainly not something Ben Miles is concerned about. He’s talking about making this team better. He’s not going to be distracted.”
Neither is Dad, who’s wrapping up his first autumn away from coaching in what feels like forever.
“Are you kidding me? I can’t stand being outside the lines,” laughed Miles, whose FOX/Big Ten Network duties included calling the Huskers’ stunning 21-17 home setback to Northern Illinois back on Sept. 16.
“I was meant to operate inside the lines of my team. I have always thought that way. I haven’t thought any other way. … I have had just a great time with Gerry DiNardo and Rick Pizzo [at the BTN studios], going up there Wednesdays in Chicago and doing that. It’s fun and enjoyment and celebrating the game, you betcha.
“But is it as important as what you do in a young man’s life when he shows up in college and you direct him to the classroom and direct him to all those things that are going to make him strong and better and more capable? That’s more important. It’s more important than what we do outside the lines, illuminating the game.”
With Riley’s Big Red future in doubt after a 54-21 thumping at Minnesota, a loss in which the Nebraska surrendered 409 rushing yards and slipped to 4-6 on the season, family isn’t the only reason some Huskers faithful have floated Miles’ name as a potential replacement.
‘I want them to win … and to turn Nebraska into the sort of team that it’s always been.’
— Former LSU coach Les Miles, father of Huskers fullback Ben, on the current state of Big Red football
The Hatter won two SEC titles at LSU. He played in the Big Ten for Bo Schembechler at Michigan and coached against the Big Red with Oklahoma State. He’s an old offensive lineman, an old wrestler, a tough guy who preaches the tough-guy things Huskers fans hold most dear.
It’s a name hire, a splash hire, a hire who won a national championship — in 2007, also with the Tigers — and a place that’s gone 20 years without one of its own.
“I don’t know,” said Miles, who’s already been linked, ironically, with Riley’s old gig at Oregon State. “I’m not flattered by newspaper articles, necessarily. I do enjoy being relevant.
“I think I’m a couple weeks away from knowing exactly where the landscape of college football really is. Like I said, I root for coaches. And I do realize that at the end of the year, there may be some openings.”
Including a fairly large one, a proud one, just west of Omaha.