In the world of college football, there are plenty of things that rub people the wrong way; the postseason, bad scheduling, overtime rules, paying players and plenty more topics are hotly debated.
One thing that stands out for this columnist as the flat-out worst part of the game is the gross interactions between fans and recruits. Not only is it against the rules, but in the grand scheme of things, it boils down to random adults attempting to entice 16- and 17-year-olds that they don't know from Adam.
While the attempt to sway random teenagers to go to your school is troublesome, the truly most despicable part of the sport comes when players make their decisions about where they want to go to school. Disgusting, nasty comments to teenagers about hoping they get injured, hoping they fail and of course the always prevalent, "you weren't good enough to be here so we don't want you anyways" scorned lover reply.
Keep in mind that was early April. Two months removed from signing day. Three months removed from Kiel enrolling at Notre Dame, instead of LSU. It was ridiculous then and it was absolutely uncalled for out of anyone, especially a man in Les Miles' position.
Now, here we sit over two months removed from our original piece. Over four months removed from signing day. Over five months from Kiel walking into the doors at Notre Dame. Spring ball is over. The 2013 recruiting cycle is well underway. Camp season is in full swing. The Bayou Bengals have 16 kids committed to their next year's class.
Yet, Les Miles is still finding time to advance his agenda against Gunner Kiel. Jeremy Hinnen at CBS Sports does a great job of chronicling the coach's recent visit to the Scott Van Pelt show where Gunner Kiel once again came up.
Miles on Kiel: To step into our stadium ... takes a different breed of cat. I wish Gunner all the best and I mean that very honestly. #LSU
— Scott Rabalais (@ScottRabalais) June 19, 2012
Pretty clear that Miles is not over Gunner Kiel. As Hinnen notes in his piece:
The likeliest answer, it seems, is that he feels his program was dealt a real blow when Kiel stayed at home, and he's doing his best to convince anyone listening that's not actually the case--maybe no one moreso than himself.
Sad. It is quite sad. Not because Les Miles cannot let this kid go, but rather because as Miles carries on this crusade, we have a coach at the most elite level of the sport validating the behavior of droves of moronic fans who have walked the same path.
This is the type of behavior that should be discouraged at every level, not celebrated or pushed by a coach like Miles. Every time he opens his mouth to spit more venom about Kiel, he is reminding some idiot on Twitter, a message board or Facebook that this behavior is acceptable.
When a kid changes his mind about where he wants to go to school, deal with it. Sorry that he can't help your team, but ultimately this is his life and his career and he gets to pick. When he doesn't pick you, you wish him the best and you move on to the next.
Les Miles is not the first coach to have a kid flip on him. Hell, Larry Fedora had a committed recruit do exactly what Gunner Kiel did, enroll at another college at the eleventh hour: Patton Robinette was on campus, doing orientation at UNC and then decided Vanderbilt was the place for him and left.
Fedora, regardless of how he feels, is not carrying on a crusade against the kid who decided to do what's best for himself.
Has Les Miles gone too far on his Gunner Kiel crusade?
Ordinarily, I'm not big on the idea of setting an example. I think it is up to people to do what's right. However, given the selfish and immature nature of Les Miles' continued crusade, in addition to his position as a head football coach, I think he needs to do better.
Shutting up about the kid is a good start. Sure, the question will be asked, that's what "it happens" or "no comment" or "it just didn't work out" are for.
Not talking Kiel is a start, but at this point the kid deserves an apology. He's had his manhood questioned, he's been told he was not good enough by a coach who desperately wanted him at every turn prior to his Notre Dame decision and he's been forced on to an agenda that he never asked to be a part of.
There are a lot of folks out here trying to work on the way fans react and interact with players and recruits. When a head coach, a highly visible head coach, makes it his mission to belittle a kid, he only helps validate the lunacy of idiot Joe Fan.