No. 1, he can be poignantly dramatic.
Just check out the “Have a Great Day,” speech from Dec. 1, 2007, for a refresher.
When former LSU coach Les Miles said, “Have a great day” to end his soliloquy after the incorrect Kirk Herbstreit report on ESPN that morning that he was Michigan-bound, he said it out of the corner of his mouth like John Wayne might have as he exited stage left.
Then he went out into the street — in this case the Georgia Dome — and won the gunfight by beating Tennessee, 21-14, to set up a classic Hollywood ending. LSU won the national championship several weeks later in Tiger Stadium East in the Superdome in New Orleans, 38-24, over Ohio State, which happens to be the flagship institution for Miles’ home state and the blood rival of Miles’ Michigan alma mater.
No. 2, he can be hilariously funny when he is trying to be, and when he is not trying to be, which few can pull off.
“When I wake up in the morning, and I turn that film on, it’s like reading a book. It’s exciting,” he once said about viewing game film. “I don’t read books,” Miles added in an accidental nod to the original, “Most Interesting Man in the World” of the Dos Equis commercials, “but if I read books, it would be like reading a book.”
He didn’t mean to be funny at the end of the Ole Miss game in 2009 that he lost 25-23 when he managed the clock like Flavor Flav. But he sure was, and Flavor Flav, aka William Jonathan Drayton Jr., used to have his own shows like “Flavor of Love” and “The Surreal Life.”
Covering Miles on a regular basis could often be a surreal life.
No. 3, he can ad lib with the best of them. If you remember, that fake field goal at Florida in 2010 was just that – a last second ad lib, mind you. The only people who knew about it were Miles and — a few seconds later not long before the snap — holder Derek Helton and kicker Josh Jasper on fourth and three in Florida territory. Jasper scampered three yards exactly with Helton’s over-the-shoulder flip that was short, but happened to bounce right to Jasper for the first down with 35 seconds to play and the Tigers down 29-26. It set up the winning touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee to Terrance Toliver with six seconds to go for a 33-29 win.
Hell, the “Have a Great Day” speech was an ad lib. The press conference was an oddity since it was not long before kickoff.
And No. 4, if Miles ever forgets his lines, he can just make some up. And they might be better. He tended to make it up as he went along as LSU’s coach from 2005-16. And more often than not, it worked better than many other coaches who sleep in their office, don’t have a spontaneous play in their playbook or life, and do not have nearly as much fun as Miles had when he was coaching.
Yes, Les Miles — national champion coach, national champion runner-up coach and two time SEC champion — is trying to become a real actor and is actually reading now. Apparently, not a whole book yet, but scripts, according to a story by the Baton Rouge Advocate last week. And he may just have more success at finding work in Hollywood than he has at getting the type of head coaching job he wanted after LSU let him go early in the 2016 season. He still wants to coach, but it has not worked out yet.
Miles is a handsome guy and apparently has not had any work done yet. He has a square jaw line. He looks younger than his age, which is 64, and he could pass for a younger Kurt Russell, who is 67. He clearly has stage presence. He can light up a room or a sideline, whether he wants to or not.
Miles also knows all about make believe. He did that at just about every press conference. He said with a straight face for years that Jordan Jefferson was a good quarterback. He said with a poker face in 2007 that No. 3 quarterback Andrew Hatch may get snaps in a game, even though Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux were each healthy, far more talented and ahead of him on the depth chart. Life imitated art a year later when Hatch had to get snaps because Flynn graduated, and Miles kicked Perrilloux off the team for continually not showing up on the set on time and generally acting like Sean Penn.
To Miles, any question about an injury meant “Action,” in his mind, because he would go into full scale thespian. He once came up with three injuries in three consecutive days for former offensive lineman Will Arnold, and amazingly all three were wrong.
He is creative. He skillfully invoked HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) as if it was the Screen Actors’ Guild and never cracked a smile. Never mind that HIPAA was not invented for coaches to hide football injuries.
That’s it. Miles could play a riverboat gambler. He winks sometimes when he just fibbed, but most of the time he keeps a poker face with a smile.
He’d be great as a cowboy. He has experience chewing grass.
Miles has already played himself in the 2014 film, “When the Game Stands Tall,” which had some good actors, but the movie fell quite a bit short. He portrayed himself as Oklahoma State’s coach, which was his real-life gig before LSU. He no longer wants to just play himself, however.
He played a cop in a 2017 independent movie aptly titled, “Camera Obscura.” Miles got to know cops while at LSU, because they got to know quite a few of his players. Miles’ one line in the obscure “Camera Obscura” was, “Sir, I’m going to need you to step back.” And he was a natural at that one, mainly because that’s exactly what he kept telling Jarrett Lee when Lee kept trying to sneak in for Jefferson in the 21-0 loss to Bama in the national championship game on Jan. 9, 2012.
Miles has actually landed a real role as a NASA official in the upcoming movie, “Angry Men,” which is about the 1986 Challenger disaster.
He is starting late in life at a new career, but it’s not like he has not been in the spotlight — both warm and loving and angry hot.
Good for him. The predictable path of former coaches is TV game analyst. That part of the game kind of bored Miles. He’s not interested. Good for him. Who needs one more ex-coach on TV? You can say a lot of things about Les Miles. You could not ever and will never be able to say he is not unique.
He could play a great, classic father like Phil Dunphy, and that would not be a stretch because that’s exactly what he is to four great kids. Could there be a remake of “Yours, Mine and Ours?”
Miles does not need it, but he has always liked the limelight. As a kid, he dreamed of being on “The Tonight Show,” the real one with the late Johnny Carson.
He has already been compared to Jimmy Stewart, but he has range, too. Miles, to tell you the truth, is not always the happy-go-lucky, nice guy. He can play the heavy, too. Just ask Perrilloux.
He went from dark Clint Eastwood to cartoon John Wayne in about 15 seconds back in that impromptu press conference before the SEC Championship Game in 2007. That should be his screen test. It remains a classic.
“There was misinformation on ESPN, and I think it imperative that I straighten it out,” he began calmly and professionally that December afternoon, and no one wrote this. He winged everything as usual.
“I’m the head coach at LSU. I will be the head coach at LSU. I have no interest in talking to anybody else,” he said, and that was good acting there. Because just the day before at a press conference, he spoke about wanting to go up to Michigan to talk. It was after that quote, that the powers that be got together and made sure Miles would be there coach that Friday night. That’s the part Herbstreit did not have.
“I’ve got a championship game to play,” he went on. “And I’m excited about the opportunity of my Damn Strong Football Team to play in it. And it’s really all I’d like to say. It was unfortunate that I had to address my team with this information this morning. But that being done, I think we’ll be ready to play.”
With voice rising and edgy, he said, “There’ll be no questions for me. I represent me in this issue. Please, ask me AFTER. I’m busy. Thank you, very much … HAVE A GREAT DAY!”
You’re hired, Les. See you at the Craft service table.
Now, can we get Saban to play a down-and-out coach, and Miles fires him?
Only in the movies.
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