On Gunner Kiel, Les Miles Makes Wrong Impression


SaturdayBlitz.com advocates maturity and restraint when dealing with recruits. It’s an uphill battle, given a boisterous, lunatic fringe on social media. It’s even more difficult championing such an attitude when coaches get into the fray.

Les Miles’ repeated, public slights of Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel are misguided. Kiel’s recruitment was among the more tumultuous in the 2012 class. A Hoosier State product, he verbally committed to Indiana last summer but flipped to LSU later in the autumn. Kiel’s change of heart came not long before his brother Dusty left the IU program.

Kiel flipped again, enrolling early at Notre Dame. His arrival at UND was a surprise for many, though mirrored his previous sentiment of remaining close to home when he committed to IU.

Kiel’s double-reversal proved that no commitment is concrete until National Signing Day, a concept now so ingrained in recruiting news culture that Robert Nkemdiche’s pledge to Clemson last week was met with immediate speculation of where he could go after de-committing from CU. Sigh.

Such hysteria is inherent in recruiting. Teenagers are prone to indecisiveness, theatrics and silliness — probably because, well, they’re kids. But the behavior seeming becomes infectious, based on reactions from fan bases and now a championship-winning coach.

Miles questioned Kiel’s gravitas in the winter, and reiterated his stance today on ESPN Radio’s “Scott Van Pelt Show.”

The former was obvious red meat for a ravenous fan base, and perhaps today’s follow-up was avoiding the scarlet letter that goes with back-tracking. Maybe Miles is voicing his genuine opinion. Either way, he had an opportunity to set a positive example on one of the sport’s seamier facets but went in the opposite direction.

Not only does this impact the overall attitude on the recruiting landscape negatively, Miles might harm his own program’s image somewhat.

Miles obviously wanted Kiel in purple and gold — and who wouldn’t want a top rated quarterback in his camp? Questioning his meddle once he’s spurned the program comes off disingenuously. Sour grapes. Like a frat boy shut down at the bar who later quips to his friends, She wasn’t hot, anyway.

LSU will not have difficulty luring top tier talent, but if even one recruit sees his reaction to Kiel and rethinks, it can be damaging.