UGA’s Richt, LSU’s Miles, in completely different situations

I’ve done a lot of radio interviews this spring and invariably the host has asked me the same question: Going into the 2010 season whose seat is hotter– Mark Richt or Les Miles? Even my friend Paul Finebaum linked the two men together in his most recent column.

First of all, I don’t understand the linkage, other than the fact that both men coach in the SEC , where they are expected to win every game, and that the top coaches in their respective divisions (Nick Saban, West; Urban Meyer, East) have won the last two national championships.

But there the similarity ends.

Les Miles took over a program that Nick Saban built and won a national championship in his third season (2007), when the players in Saban’s last class were seniors. In the past two seasons LSU is 8-8 in the SEC and fans on the Bayou wonder if Miles can win a title with his own players.

When it comes to Miles, there is this nagging sense that he and his staff are not maximizing the talent on this team. Actually, it’s more than a nagging sense.  When it comes to offense, LSU really hasn’t had much of a clue as to what it is doing the past two seasons. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson has not gotten one bit better since this time last year. A team that used to be known for blue collar football (LSU ran for over 200 yards a game in the national championship year but was 11th in the SEC last season), the Tigers are now look pretty soft on that side of the ball.

Let’s put it this way: LSU had better beat North Carolina on Sept. 4 at the Georgia Dome or there will be folks in that part of the world with Jon Gruden’s number on speed dial.

Richt took over at Georgia in 2001 and won a conference championship in 2002 with a team made up mostly of players he inherited from Jim Donnan (who still doesn’t get enough credit for what he did at Georgia to rebuild the talent base). But then he won another championship with his own players in 2005, and was as good as anybody in the country in 2007.

He’s won 90 games in nine years. He’s 50-22 in the SEC. In six of those years he has been 6-2 or better in the league. He has never been worse than 4-4 in the SEC.

Having said all that, has Georgia looked like a well-coached team the past two seasons? The answer is decidedly “No.” Here are two important numbers:

113: That was Georgia’s national ranking (out of 120 Division I-A schools) in penalties per game. Georgia had 105 penalties in 13 games. Only five schools in America (Troy, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas Tech, Arizona State) had more penalties. By contrast, BCS champ Alabama had 69 penalties in 14 games. This has been a problem for two years and has not been fixed.

118: Georgia’s national ranking in turnover margin, which I think is the most important statistic in football. Georgia forced 12 turnovers last season (2 fumbles, 10 interceptions) but turned the ball over 28 times. That’s minus-16 in turnovers. Only one team in America, Miami of Ohio (minus-24) had a worse turnover margin. By contrast Alabama was plus 19 (31 takeaways, 12 turnovers) in 14 games. The hope at Georgia is that Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 defense will partly address this issue.

So I’m not saying that Richt and his staff don’t have work to do. They do. Georgia has done things the past two seasons that well-coached teams don’t do. And there is the fact that he is 1-4 against Meyer, who has won two national championships, and that the gap between Florida and the rest of the division seems to be growing. Some Georgia fans, and I hear from a lot of them, are worried that the program has lost momentum. I get that.

But Richt’s situation and that of Miles just aren’t comparable. If Miles goes 7-5 and 3-5 in the SEC there will be a concerted effort to nudge him back towards Michigan, his alma mater, where Rich Rodriguez faces a most uncertain future.

If Richt goes 7-5 it will certainly impact his quality of life in the offseason but it won’t jeopardize his job. He will feel pressure to make some more changes to his staff. But nobody in authority is going to say that he should relocate. In nine years Richt has put a lot of good will into the bank and that matters to the decision makers.

I could be totally wrong about this. What say you?

Please follow me on Twitter:

477 comments Add your comment

Hairy Dawg

May 13th, 2010
9:16 pm

We goning to fix the arrogant big mouth Myer and Dooley’s kid this year with the unloading of a whooping can on way to New Orlean for Jan 1st.

meyer, coach

May 13th, 2010
11:27 pm

CMR…you sure got a purty mouth, boy.
I’m still yo football daddy!!!!!


May 13th, 2010
11:33 pm

I used to use Paul Finebaum newspaper articles for cat liter lining,but now the cat won’t dump on the paper. When I see barnhart on tv, I just turn the station.

Vol Fan

May 13th, 2010
11:54 pm

CMR’s best years were against the Zooker, Fulmer (without Cutcliffe), and Gailey. Recently he has had to contend with Meyer, Saban, Johnson, Monte Kiffen, and Spurrier. You could probably add Rich Rodriguez, especially since CMR’s BCS wins came against Hawaii (a joke) and some other team that was unranked, didn’t have a starting QB, and didn’t have their lead WR because he was the emergency QB.

It might have something to do with his success. His best team was 2001, but they blew it against the Zooker by committing sexual assault on the field to ruin a critical drive… there went that national championship. 2007 was a joke because he pulled a streak of wins over a paper tiger Auburn, Can’tucky, Tech, and a one armed Tebow. Too bad they never played USC that year.

The point is, his timing was great and he has had some incredible luck.

Vol Fan

May 14th, 2010
12:02 am

Donnan on the other hand had to contend with Fulmer/Cutcliffe (at least more than CMR did), Spurrier/Florida, and O’Leary. I agree he doesn’t get the credit he deserves like the talent level of the 2002 team (I said 2001 earlier… my bad).

Hairy Dawg

May 14th, 2010
9:07 am

Richt beating Tenn like a drum. Y’all cant even keep the Lame Kitten who is bolting after seeing diaster at Tenn and the arresting. Now you got Dooley boy with losing record at the LA la chump school. We goning to take care arrogance Myers for winning with Zooker recruits and Tea-blows but now Gaytors nervous breaking.

Reality Dawg

May 14th, 2010
1:23 pm

Miles is on the hot seat, richt is not. As long as mark wins 8-9 games, he can keep his job as long as he wants.


May 14th, 2010
1:53 pm

In a world of what have you done for me lately mindset, if Richt’s team doesnt’ show improvement by the end of the 2011 season, he is gone for sure. When I say improvement, I mean a defense that shows up for the game, a lot less penalties and giving Florida a game that goes to the wire whether they win or not.


May 14th, 2010
1:57 pm

Wouldn’t it be something if by some miracle, Derek Dooley actually cooks up something positive at UT with nothing in the cubbard and Richt underachieves. Ya think the 2nd coming of Dooley dawgs could happen?

Big Harry Dawg

May 15th, 2010
10:39 am

All I can say is this: Richt better quit thumbing his pecker and get back to actually coaching – or he will be gone.

That is all, thank you.

messin with sasquatch

May 15th, 2010
10:57 am

dogbois’s can’t wait for another run at mediocrity.


May 15th, 2010
11:26 am

Listen, Richt won a championship in a down year for TN in 2002 (I know, we have had several since too), and Ron Zook’s first year at Florida. That is the really the only time Richt has done anything. As long as Meyer is at Florida, UGA will continue to get the crap kicked out of them by Florida.


May 15th, 2010
11:27 am

Hairy Dawg….Tn has killed UGA 3 of the last 4 years…what the He** are you talking about??


May 15th, 2010
11:35 am

Richt is an excellent recruiter. The question Bulldog fans should answer is what would Meyer or Saban do with the talent that Richt recruits. Florida has had two NCs, LSU two, Alabama one, and even Tennessee one during Richt’s tenure at Georgia. For all Richt’s success in winning percentage and SEC championships, he hasn’t won a NC.

Is that good enough? If the changes on defense don’t bring a title in the next 3 – 4 years, will Georgia fans be satisfied with a “very good” program, but never a great one?


May 15th, 2010
12:21 pm

SimpleDawg: What’s with the “9-2 or 8-3″? They play 12 regular season games this century.( Just funning bro. Any true Dawg fan is my friend.)


May 15th, 2010
12:31 pm

Charliebama, your spellchecker is obviously missing a grammar option.


May 15th, 2010
12:35 pm

YES!!!!! 10 wins a year will satisfy this 71 year-old Dawg fan. I would like no losses ever but CMR brings a lot more to DAWG NATION than his coaching abilities. There are plenty of things more important than winning a National Championship in college athletics. It is just a damn game(which I dearly love) and it effects my personality when the Dawgs lose but it ain’t like a death in the family or losing your home or having a family member incarcerated or a catastrophic illness to a family member, etc. It is mostly for bragging rights which is good if kept in concept.


May 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

Vol Fan: In Football 101 it says in the first paragraph “LUCK COUNTS in the won-loss column”. Back to your drawing board

Brainiac(Lifetime Dawg Fan)

May 15th, 2010
12:54 pm

BuLLdawg ole buddy: Lighten up before you blow a gasket. You chastise Tony for his reference to 7-5 seasons and remind him of the 14 regular season games yet you immediately follow up with your own numbers of 9-4 or 8-5. Are you not going to count the North Avenue Bunglebee game or what?

Dawgs > Gators

May 15th, 2010
6:55 pm

The gators lost their 4 best players on offense and defense, meyer’s sick—UGA takes over this series in 2010—mark it down! I’ve seen brantley play in high school—Murray’s a lot better.


May 15th, 2010
10:46 pm

Miles is terrible, Richt is decent not great.

Hairy Dawg

May 15th, 2010
11:56 pm

Check out Richts records. He unloading old whooping can on Vols. Vols even lose to Vandy and keep replacing coach. Vols commits the felons with pellet guns while Richt Christainizing. Thats is difference and Richt knows how winning is impotant with the SEC talents and not the rejects that UTen gets.

Hairy Dawg

May 16th, 2010
12:55 am

You vol clowns has been rotten and playing rocky slop football sinse Tee Martin left. Tenn is a stinky programs and I prove it. Tenn is worse than USC on probation cause Lame Kitten left to take on probabtions instead of Tenn. And Cutcliff stayed at Duke over Tenn and that means you worse than Duke. Then you had hiring a coach with a la LA Tech record worse than Cheese Whiz at Auburn. By the transistive rule Tenn is worse than Duke, USC on probs and la LA Tech. You bums aint serious about playing of the football and been running the embarassing for SEC.


May 24th, 2010
11:44 am

Hey KR,

Considering UGA had not won a conference championship in 18 years when Richt arrived, I’m sure they would take him in a heartbeat. Richt is a good coach and better than most at X’s & O’s but he has the same problem as 90% of college coaches, he can’t evaluate and project high school talent very well. Nick Saban excels at this. He’ll take 3-star players and beat your 5-star players, because he saw what they could develop into and not what they were as High School Seniors. Every scholarship player Saban has will have a role to fill and potentially could be a star. As for Richt, why did Logan Grey get a scholarship from UGA, he obviously does not have the talent to be an SEC quarterback. There are many more players at UGA who are big time recuits and never pan out (some never even start and only play special teams). I believe Meyer is the same as Saban to a certain degree, but Meyer has always had his pick of players in talent-rich Florida that I’m not sure evaluation of talent is as critical. Back to Richt, I believe his biggest problem was naming a friend Defensive Coordinator and then not being capable of firing him soon enough. Hopefully, Grantham and the new scheme will solve a lot of the problems.

[...] interesting pair of articles from Paul Finebaum and Tony Barnhart framing up the situations at LSU and Georgia. If your time is limited, just read Barnhart. I spend [...]

[...] interesting pair of articles from Paul Finebaum and Tony Barnhart framing up the situations at LSU and Georgia. If your time is limited, just read Barnhart. I spend [...]

[...] interesting pair of articles from Paul Finebaumm and Tony Barnhart framing up the situations at LSU and Georgia. If your time is limited, just read Barnhart. I spend [...]