Family plays role in Les Miles’ choice of staying at LSU

Dave Moormann
LSU head coach Les Miles looks on from the sideline.

If the decision to remain at LSU wasn’t an easy one for Les Miles, considering that his beloved alma mater was calling for the second time in three years, it was just the opposite for his four children.

After speaking with University of Michigan officials about their vacant football coaching position Monday night, Miles decided Tuesday morning to stay at LSU — much to the delight of his children, who range in age from 7 to 16.

Miles’ wife, Kathy, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that she and her children played a key role in Miles passing on a chance to coach the team he played for in the 1970s.

“Well, of course, I think the family played a big role in it,” Kathy Miles said about seven hours after her husband called her to say they were staying. “We love it here. We love Baton Rouge. We love our Tigers.

“We think the (Southeastern Conference) is the best conference in America, and we’re excited about that,” she said. “We’re definitely happy here, and that makes Les feel good about it.”

Apparently, it was the perfect decision for the four Miles youngsters — Smacker (16), Manny (14), Ben (12) and Macy Grace (7) — after the family talked about the situation.

“There wasn’t any special family meeting or anything like that,” Kathy Miles said with a laugh, “but I can tell you this: every one of the kids voted for warm weather.”

Even though the temperature hovered around the 45-degree mark most of Tuesday, it was plenty warm enough for the children — especially after Miles phoned his wife around 10 a.m. to inform her of the decision.

“He just called me up and said, ‘We’re staying,’” she said. “I asked him if he had told everybody, and he said he told LSU and had spoken to Michigan.

“Then, he asked if I was OK with it,” she said. “I said, ‘Yes, if you’re OK with it, I’m OK with it.’”

Kathy Miles said it was interesting that even though her husband played for Michigan, her two sons aren’t that familiar with the school’s football history and tradition because they’ve grown up in SEC country.

“They don’t see anything besides the SEC,” she said. “That part of it is kind of funny because we’re in SEC territory now, and all they know is that the SEC has won the BCS title the last five seasons.”

In fact, she said the two boys urged their father to stay at LSU. They cited his 62-17 record, which includes four 11-win seasons in six years, what the Tigers have coming back next season and their recruiting class coming in.

“Les loves his team and he loves everybody in that building,” she said. “His staff is great, and we’ve got great recruits coming in. The program is going in the right direction. With all that he’s attained, he reached the point where he wants to keep it going.”

While Kathy Miles was ultimately on board with the coach’s decision, she did think about going back to Michigan.

A former assistant women’s basketball coach at the Ann Arbor school, she grew up about 60 miles away in Flint, Mich. Her father, mother and a sister live there.

“I was torn because of my family back there,” she said. “It pulls on my heart that my parents can’t see my kids play sports and grow up even though they do visit.

“We all want to be with family, but the opportunity is here for Les to coach and represent LSU. It’s a tremendous opportunity and a great experience for him. The job and the accomplishments, it’s all positive here.”

In the end, she didn’t mind staying, either.

“I love it here and I love LSU,” she said. “I love how important football is to the community, to the university and to the state of Louisiana. And I think it’s wonderful that we’re the flagship university of the state.”