Sports Illustrated had to expect some backlash from their investigative piece on the Oklahoma State Cowboys football program, and boy are they getting it.
First it was famous financier and OSU booster T. Boone Pickens, then even players interviewed and included in part one of the piece are saying they were misquoted, and now former OSU head coach Les Miles is denying SI’s report and defending the school’s football program.
Miles, the current head coach at Louisiana State University (LSU), first worked at OSU as an offensive coordinator for the football team from 1995 – 1997. After a two year stint as the tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Miles returned to OSU as the football team’s head coach from 2001 – 2004.
The investigation spans over 10 years, with Miles’ first year as head coach the second year allegations of payment for performance were made.
On Wednesday, Miles spoke about the SI report on OSU on a Southeastern Conference teleconference, saying those making the allegations “weren’t there long enough to figure it out,” because they were released from the team.
During his time as head coach, Miles was proud and takes offense with “the idea that somebody would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct.”
”I can tell you that staff, family and friends, and anybody that sat in our meeting rooms, knew that this thing was done right,” said Miles.
For the four seasons Miles was at OSU, he said he and his staff did nothing wrong. Miles said, ””I revered my time in Stillwater, The idea that someone would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct . . did we work hard? You betcha’. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups? You betcha’. But every guy was encouraged to get his degree and to stay the course and to fight.”
He even told players to ”attend class and do the right things.”
His time at Oklahoma was special to Miles. During the SEC teleconference he said, ”I enjoyed my time in Oklahoma. I can tell you that.”
Russ Cornelius, a walk-on during Les Miles’ tenure at OSU, sent an email to columnist Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, which is an interesting read. In the email, Cornelius explains that he never saw anything that the SI article reported on. He added that the coaches informed players that boosters and alum might try to give them money or odd jobs, told players the consequences if they took such payments, and expected the players to make the right decisions. Cornelius said, “This is where about 90 percent of the team does the right thing and makes the smart decision, and 10 percent do drugs, take cash, lie, cheat, steal, have bad attitudes during practice, and get themselves booted from the team.”
Cornelius also added that these things probably happen at many other colleges, as well as athletics other than football. The special treatment also doesn’t stop with money, many athletes are given special treatment in academics and their social lives.
It also seems that nine of the 12 players interviewed for the SI article “either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit. Of those, several had criminal records.”
You can watch Les Miles address the OSU scandal in the video below.