When Signing Day came and went and LSU head coach Les Miles didn’t come away with the signature of quarterback Gunner Kiel, he fired up his Tiger fanbase with a jab at the character of Kiel. The move didn’t make Miles look all that good, and after Kiel declined a chance to fire back at the coach, many assumed this hubbub would die a quiet death.
And then Les Miles decided to talk about it again.
Catching up with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, Miles once again looked foolish discussing Kiel’s decision to go to Notre Dame, a decision made at the eleventh hour after a recruiting roller-coaster that included commitments to both the Tigers and Indiana.
Here’s more from Miles and his quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe on the decision:
Miles: “I’m not bitter. I’m glad he stayed there. I really mean it. Here’s the truth: If you don’t have some swagger to you and you can step into this stadium and be able to know the advantage that you’re playing with the Tigers and you’re leading the program that has some real weight and clout, then you really need to stay home with your brothers.
“I don’t mean that [negatively]. I’m for him. He gets a chance to come in here and compete and start on a team that is a great team. I really meant what I said. I was talking more about the confidence and swagger. I was not demeaning. If he shows up, it means he has all those things …
“I mean it honestly, if it’s more about family for him, if it’s more being close to home … he would have never been successful as he needed to be. I mean it very respectfully …
“The guy we got now [Zach Mettenberger], he’s a confident son of a buck. He’s a throwin’, tough kid. If he continues to develop and learn and grow as a leader, no question.”
Quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe, who helped recruit Kiel, also weighed in:
“Gunner’s a great kid. He comes from a very, very close-knit family. When it really comes down to it and time to get on the plane, he couldn’t do it. We knew that was part of the recruiting process. I talked about it with him very candidly.
“When I was playing at West Texas State, my dad [Dave] was coaching at Oregon State. My son’s at Idaho State. I have one in Chicago. I walked him [Kiel] through what it was going to be like. He woke up Sunday morning and was getting ready to go to the plane and said he couldn’t do it. I was disappointed he didn’t come because I wanted to coach him. I really liked their family. I think they’re wonderful people.
“The best way to describe it is, I understand.”
It’s tough to feel any differently about these comments than the last ones, as Miles tries his best to tell us he’s not bitter then takes another dig at a freshman quarterback that decided to play for one of college football’s most popular program that also happens to be in the player’s home state. Miles apparently has no problem taking advantage of keeping kids in-state — he’s got over 70 players on his roster from Louisiana — but apparently if another school defends its home turf it’s a character flaw of the player.
We’ll know soon enough if Gunner Kiel is the real deal or not. But Miles should spend a little bit more time worrying about his offense than the freshman quarterback that got away.