Coach Les Miles, sporting a Jayhawk hat and jacket, walks off the football field

Coach Les Miles walks off the field at halftime on Nov. 30, 2019. Despite some challenges due to the novel coronavirus, Miles is continuing the search for 2021 football prospects.

Les Miles’ first year as coach of Kansas football came to an end with the Jayhawks dropping their fourth straight game to finish the season 3-9.

In a season that included the first road victory against a Power Five conference school and home sellout in 10 years, the Jayhawks ended the year with the same record as the 2018 season.

Jace Kline, a junior from Olathe, said despite the identical record, he felt that the football program took a big step forward under Miles.

“Overall we looked much better as a program,” Kline said. “We have room for improvement in every aspect of the game, but we made strides this year.”

Junior Jake Tatge from Arvada, Colorado, said he thinks Miles will fare better in the coming years with the core of the team being made up of his own recruits.

“There was a lot expected out of him, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how much of a work in progress it’s going to be,” Tatge said. “There’s a lot of high-star recruits that we’re going to be getting, and I think that only plays in part from what [Miles] is building here.”

Freshman Kyler McGlachlin from Wichita agreed with Tatge. 

“Since [Miles] didn’t technically recruit those players I feel like it was hard for him,” McGlachlin said. “I think next year will be more of a test to how he’s doing as a head coach. We’ll see how next year goes.”

Kansas Athletics reported a 74.3% increase in attendance in Miles’ debut season at Kansas. The Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State was the first home game the Jayhawks had sold out since 2009.

“The environment in the stadium feels a lot different,” freshman Wyatt Behlen said. “There’s a lot more hope in the fans because of the reputation behind Les Miles.”

McGlachlin said he is unsure if attendance will remain the same next season.

“I think a lot of the attendance was due to the hype,” McGlachlin said. “I don’t know if it’ll carry over to next year because of the record this year. It might be hard for some people to come back.”

Kansas still has not been to a bowl game since the 2008 season, but some students said they could feel a shift in the on-field product from the Jayhawks this year.

“I feel like we were more prepared even in the games that we lost,” freshman John McCarthy said. “Under [David] Beaty, I don’t feel like we were ever that prepared.”

Kline said he thinks the special teams improved this season. 

“The little things on special teams, defense and offense that have happened in years past didn’t happen as much this year,” Kline said. “I think those are big signs of improvement.”