KU players try not to tip their hands when asked about Les Miles buzz
Norman, Okla. — It’s rare to find Kansas safety Mike Lee in a bad mood.
The junior from New Orleans loves to talk, and that makes him all the more affable in a postgame interview setting. Unless you’ve just asked Lee about a specific mistake he made on the field he’ll respond to most inquires with an honest answer and a smile.
Even though the Jayhawks lost at No. 6 Oklahoma, 55-40, Saturday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Lee’s mood perked in the interview area near KU’s locker room because he got to spend a chunk of it discussing the exploits of fellow Louisianan Pooka Williams.
“That guy is tough. I ain’t even gonna lie to you,” Lee said after Williams, KU’s true freshman running back, rushed for 252 yards and two touchdowns, averaged 16.8 yards per carry and even threw a TD pass to Jeremiah Booker.
Naturally, I thought Lee might have an opinion on another prominent man with Louisiana ties. So I asked him what he thought of the growing speculation that Les Miles will become KU’s next head coach.
“I don’t know,” a grinning Lee replied. “I ain’t worried about it. If he come, he come. If he not, he not.”
With contract negotiations between KU and the former LSU head coach reportedly in the final stages as of Friday, speculation only increased Saturday, with the help of Miles’ pal, Tim Brando, who was on the call for FOX’s OU-KU broadcast.
Nothing is official. But it sure seems as if Miles could soon be in charge of KU football. Is that good news?
“We’ll see,” Lee responded, this time laughing.
As much as he wanted to play it off, and surely had been instructed not to talk about the Miles-to-KU smoke, Lee’s face beamed during his answers. Read into his body language what you will.
As for Joe Dineen, KU’s redshirt senior hometown linebacker, who grew up watching winning football in Memorial Stadium, when Mark Mangino ran the program? Even though Dineen won’t ever play for the Jayhawks’ next head coach, you know how this all plays out really means something to him.
What does Dineen make of the Miles rumors and reports?
He all but physically bit his lip.
“Not… Not discussing that right now,” Dineen said, fighting back a smile. “Yeah, refraining from discussing that right now.”
Senior quarterback Peyton Bender took a similar stance when I asked what he thought about all the Miles chatter.
“I’m not really concerned about that right now. Just focused on next week versus Texas and finishing out this season strong,” Bender said in his typically serious interview tone.
I told him it was a well rehearsed answer. The laid back QB flashed a Mike Lee-level grin.
The Jayhawks are doing their best to tune out all the Les Miles buzz. But they’re only human. They know about it. And because they care about the KU football program they’re excited about it, too. Even if they’re not supposed to say so. Yet.