November 10, 2016 Happy Birthday Les Miles!

Les Miles | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Les Miles (#63) shown here with the 1975 Michigan Football team. He is seated in the first row – the third player from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library

Did you know that today is the birthday of former Michigan player and coach, Les Miles? Well, it is! Leslie Edwin Miles was born on this day in Elyria, Ohio. Les Miles was a Buckeye, but after a highly successful high school football career he decided to play for Bo Schembechler at Michigan.

Les Miles came to Ann Arbor in the Fall of 1972 and spent his freshman year learning the Michigan football system and getting the job done in the classroom. He did not get much playing time in 1973so he did not letter in his sophomore year.

Bo Schembechler always had plenty of talented lineman and playing time was hard to come by at Michigan. Les Miles was not one of Bo’s greatest offensive linemen, but he was a student of the game. Miles earned enough playing time in 1973 to letter. As a senior, he started one game at guard and lettered for the second time.

Les Miles played on some of Bo’s best teams from 1972 to 1975. The Wolverines posted an overall record of 38 wins, 4 losses and 3 ties with Les Miles on the roster. This high level of play worked out to a winning rate of almost eighty-eight percent (.878). Michigan was even better in the Big Ten during this period. The Wolverines won 28 games, lost 3 and tied 1 from 1972 to 1975. They won a Big Ten championship, tied for two more and finished second in 1975.

When Les Miles expressed an interest, Bo Schembechler brought him on board as a graduate assistant in 1980 and 1981. Miles left Michigan and worked at Colorado as an Offensive Line coach from 1982 to 1986. Bo thought he was ready and brought back to the same position at Michigan in 1987. Les Miles coached Bo’s offensive lineman from 1987 to 1989. When Bo retired, Les Miles was retained by Gary Moeller. Miles coached the offensive linemen for all five seasons of the Gary Moeller Era.

Les Miles left Michigan in 1994 and eventually became a Head Coach at Oklahoma State in 2001. After a successful tenure, he was hired to be the Head Coach at LSU in 2005.

Les Miles compiled an impressive resume at LSU from 2005 until his firing in September 2016. He won the National Championship in 2007. Miles won the SEC Championship in 2007 and 2011. His record of 114 wins and 34 losses made him the winningest coach in LSU history. However, a winning rate of almost seventy-eight percent (.770) for twelve years was not good enough for the folks in Baton Rouge. So, Les Miles is looking for a job. I think he will land in a good place before too long.

For the first time since 2007, the name of Les Miles is not being associated with the head coaches job at Michigan. Jim Harbaugh is doing just fine thank you! Yes, there was a lot of speculation in 2007, 2011, and again in 2014 that Les Miles was a candidate for the Head Coaching job at Michigan. Of course, we all know that did not work out for a variety of reasons.

The interesting thing is that Les Miles is a winner. He was a solid team player on some of Michigan’s best football teams in the 1970s. He continued to contribute to the success of the Michigan football program as a graduate assistant and then as an offensive line coach. When you look at the numbers it is easy to see why his name kept popping up when Michigan needed a coach.

Michigan’s winning percentage during the fourteen years that Les Miles played, or was on a Michigan Staff, was almost eighty-percent (.796). Michigan’s overall record during the “Miles Years” was 128 wins, 30 losses and 7 ties. It was even better in Big Ten play where Michigan won just over eighty-three percent of the time. The Wolverines won 92 conference games, lost 17 and tied 4 during this period.

Les Miles learned how to play and coach college football at The University of Michigan. He has distinguished himself and his alma mater with his personal and professional success. I hope that Les Miles enjoys his special day today. Happy Birthday Les Miles and thank you for your contributions to Maize and Blue football history. Go Blue! I hope you are welcomed back with open arms at the Indiana game next week!

Check out the link below to learn some more about Les Miles. There is also a ton of stuff out there about where he may end up next season. Knock yourself out!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Miles

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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