Last Modified: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 7:12 PM
BATON ROUGE — So there Adam Henry was in Mobile, Ala., having just left the Oakland Raiders’ staff, not really needing to “network” at the Senior Bowl, thinking he was on the next plane to Buffalo to join the Bills’ staff.
At that moment, the former McNeese State all-Southland Conference wide receiver and assistant coach had never met LSU coach Les Miles, was perfectly content in the NFL, and really had no burning desire to return to the college game.
So, of course, less than 24 hours later, he was Miles’ new wide receivers coach.
He said it was an offer he couldn’t refuse — “I had others, but this was a top-tier program.”
Yeah, but that must have been quite a quick impression he made on Miles, huh?
It was former LSU running backs coach Larry Porter who suggested he look into it and set up the interview.
Henry went to Baton Rouge, got a proper formal introduction with Miles at 8:30 a.m. the next day, spent most of a day with him, and was promptly offered the job about 3 o’clock that afternoon.
“It happened pretty quick,” Henry admitted. “I’m not sure what he saw in me.”
It wasn’t quite as simple as knocking Miles off his feet and nailing the job interview, however.
Miles had already done his legwork, his homework and his phone work.
“I’m big on, I always want to talk to people that have worked with guys that I interview for jobs,” Miles said. “I really got a lot of perimeter background that was really good on him.”
Miles, who spent time with the Dallas Cowboys before getting his first head coaching job at Oklahoma State, has always had a penchant for hiring staff with an NFL background.
Other than playing college ball in the same state, however, the Beaumont, Texas, native had no real ties to LSU.
But funny how things come full circle and end up back in the same place.
Henry was happy at McNeese too, back in 2006. He had not really planned to get into coaching — “Dentist, lawyer, something like that,” he recalled. But while finishing his degree as a graduate assistant, he got hooked on coaching when the Cowboys advanced to the 1997 Division I-AA national championship game. He was elevated to a full-time job the next season and was offensive coordinator and assistant head coach by 2006.
One of his duties under head coach Matt Viator was as the Cowboys’ “liaison to the NFL,” i.e., dealing with the various coaches and scouts interested in talking about or working out a McNeese player.
So when he got the call from then-Oakland coach Lane Kiffin in the spring of 2007, he figured it was something along those lines.
Instead, Kiffin wanted to know if Henry might be interested in taking advantage of the NFL’s new fellowship program, which was designed to jump-start and further the careers of minority coaches.
It so happened the Raiders were descending en masse on Baton Rouge in a couple of days and wanted to know if he could drive over to chat.
After the Raiders’ staff dissected and worked out LSU star quarterback JaMarcus Russell, they met with Henry at a Baton Rouge restaurant to discuss joining their staff.
The Raiders ended up taking both — Russell, with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft and Henry back to Oakland to work in offensive quality control.
Russell, although he got considerably more coin, turned out to be one of the NFL’s all-time busts while Henry took full advantage of his opportunity.
After two years in quality control — the NFL is a stickler for such — he was promoted to tight ends coach, a position he held the last three seasons with excellent reviews.
“I learned a lot in the NFL,” Henry said. “You don’t have to recruit. So it’s like getting a doctorate in football.
“Being in quality control helped me — the particulars, going in and dotting the i’s and crossing all the t’s.”
The lack of recent recruiting experience was apparently all that concerned Miles. Henry spent most of the daylong interview reminding Miles that he had recruited for 10 years at McNeese.
“He’d give me situations,” Henry said. “How to get a guy. How can I turn a guy toward LSU? He set up a lot of different scenarios.”
Miles was impressed in advance with the quick, upward track of Henry’s career, both at McNeese and with the Raiders.
“Then I interviewed him,” Miles said. “Very bright, very smart, very capable, has the NFL background and has the ties to Louisiana and Beaumont, which we also recruit heavily.
I’m excited about having him.”