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.

http://blog.al.com/press-register-sports/2010/05/finebaum_les_miles_mark_richt.html

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:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

477 comments Add your comment

Bryant

May 12th, 2010
2:22 pm

Hey guys like Tony says kids read these posts. Two years and UGA will be calling Kirby home for a different job!!

Really?

May 12th, 2010
2:25 pm

You few Tech/Bama people that spend all day posting this crap are pathetic. Stop trying to make it seem like there are a lot of you and get a life.

Tide Rising

May 12th, 2010
2:27 pm

Dorsey Hill,

Saban won’t be on the list of highest winning % for what should be obvious reasons. He coached at Toledo and Mich state before moving to LSU. Toledo is a rather difficult place to win at wouldn’t you agree? As for Mich state they are the little brother to Michigan and take a back seat to Mich, OSU, and half the other teams in the big 10 in recruiting. Not really a fair comparison but you go ahead if it makes you feel better.

jumbeauxtiger

May 12th, 2010
2:36 pm

Tide Rising, the comment by Miles at the event in New Orleans about Bama was in bad taste. Sometimes I believe he speaks before really thinking things through. That’s no excuse and I believe he has learned from that as he has not made any inappropriate comments in some time.

I do agree that Jefferson is partly responsible for the clock debacle in Oxford last season. He doesn’t always make the best decisions as a QB which as you know can cost you a game. Hopefully for our sake he’s matured and will play smarter. If he doesn’t it will be a long season.

Typical Gator Fan

May 12th, 2010
2:36 pm

This IS my life. Really?, I’m afraid I don’t understand your question.

jumbeauxtiger

May 12th, 2010
2:38 pm

GO HEELS

“I tell you one thing (SEC) fans and (Les Miles) fans he wont be around to long then… LSU is going to drop thier first game and maybe not score against my Tarheels….”

Your storied football history has me worried.

Johnny Devereaux

May 12th, 2010
2:43 pm

Tide Rising: PP had the flu all week and was cramping so using the Injury as an excuse doesn’t work. It’s a cop out. I do agree though that JJ got the better of the matchup their freshman year. The play you are referring to was a prefect pass that NOBODY could ever pretend to contest. Julio was just in the right spot and all PP could do was hold on for dear life.

I cannot wait for round 3 of this matchup. I’ll project JJ to grab 2 maybe 3 passes for minimum yardage.

Tide Rising

May 12th, 2010
2:47 pm

Johnny Devereaux,

Round 3 coming up! Hopefully they both will be healthy. I’m projecting Julio for 6 passes and 80 yards receiving and 1 td.

SaintsLSU

May 12th, 2010
2:48 pm

I really hope LSU beats UNC bad. ‘08 CWS – two tough losses including a 9th inning grand slam, ‘09 NCAA Tourney – gave eventual Champion Tarheels a run for their money, but fell short, and finally in ‘10 – we got a chance at revenge in football. This will be a hard fought game. It will be difficult for us to score an NFL talent-laden defense, but their offense isnt exactly a juggernaut either, and our D is tough also.

Tide Rising

May 12th, 2010
2:48 pm

jumbeauxtiger,

“Your storied football program has me worried”. Ouch!!!

Vince

May 12th, 2010
2:51 pm

Let’s see if I get Paul’s point.

Meyer is 0-2 versus Auburn so Meyer, a top 3 most winningest coach, should be fired?

So Richt is 1-4 against Meyer, so Richt, a top 3 most winningest coach, should be fired?

Johnny Devereaux

May 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

Sam Montgomery is going to have more of an impact in the JJ v. PP matchup than either player. If he can rush the passer as well as he has shown this spring, watch out! McElroy wont have much time to stand in the pocket. and anyone who has watched LSU the past couple of years knows that a pass rush has been missed dearly.

Vince

May 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

Since Paul Finebaum won’t give Les Miles credit for his 36-4 record his 1st 3 years, because it was “with someone else’s players”, how about not giving Saban credit for his 1st 4 years, same reason?

But NOOOOO!

TheTruth

May 12th, 2010
2:57 pm

Using Bama to compare Penalties is not fair. After all, the SEC is loaded with nothing but BAMA grads as officials! The SEC will be a joke until they corrects this issue with officiating. GET RID OF THE BAMA GRADS AS OFFICIALS!!!! Please!

Vince

May 12th, 2010
2:57 pm

Saban’s not even in the top 20 for active winning %.

Miles is Miles ahaead of him, and Richt is in the top 5 making his Mark.

http://www.coacheshotseat.com/WinningestActiveCoachesIA.htm

jumbeauxtiger

May 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

Tide Rising

May 12th, 2010
2:48 pm
jumbeauxtiger,

“Your storied football program has me worried”. Ouch!!!

I don’t understand why anyone talks smack when they haven’t won anything. Win something and then you can boast.

Typical Dawg Fan

May 12th, 2010
2:59 pm

We have the nicest coach! He is a man of God. Everyone else’s coach is a dirty, lyin’, cheatin’, devil lovin’ scumbag probably looking to go somewhere else. And now that we have Grantham, we’re gonna win it all! Book it! Lookout Gaytors cause you don’t have Teblow anymore! And your coach Urban Liar is a basket case. We’re gonna beat the Gaytors this year. Book it! Take to the bank! Count on it! WOOF WOOF!

Vince

May 12th, 2010
2:59 pm

Tony and Paul Finebaum:

Mark Richt’s record is 25-2 when Georgia commits 10+ penalties.

So much for those theories that penalities are causing Georgia to lose games.

Not so much.

CrimsonPride

May 12th, 2010
3:03 pm

WE OWN THIS CONFERENCE

Gator Nation

May 12th, 2010
3:04 pm

WE think Mark Richt is an outstanding coach and should get a lifetime contract IMMEDIATELY!

Vince

May 12th, 2010
3:05 pm

Tony and Paul Finnebaum:

No turnovers arn’t the cause of wins and losses.

Let’s look at several top 20 teams in turnover margin from 2009:

National Ranking in turnover Margin:
#2 Air Force- 7-5 record
#5 Ark 7-5
#12 Indiana 4-8
#13 UAB 5-7
#17 S miss 7-5
#19 Army 5-7

So much for those theories that turnover margins lead to wins and losses.

GATORZONE

May 12th, 2010
3:05 pm

Vince, thanks for the link. That was interesting. I wonder if UT regrets firing Fulmer, yet.

Vince

May 12th, 2010
3:06 pm

Scoring margin is what it’s all about.

Football is simple–score more than the other team.

Not turnovers, not penalities, SCORING.

kgator79

May 12th, 2010
3:07 pm

If having only 2 SEC titles in the last 27 years is acceptable for UGA fan as long as their coach ranks in the top 10 in “winning percentage” thats fine with me. Not going to change their minds on that.

Cleveland Steamer

May 12th, 2010
3:09 pm

How bout those Cavs?!

Vince

May 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

Top 5 teams in scoring margin are:
Boise 13-0 record
Texas 12-1
TCU 12-0
Fl 12-1
Bama 13-0

Typical Gator Fan

May 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

I wish Jeremy Foley would give Coach Meyer a lifetime contract or a two year extension, which ever comes first.

Reptiles Rule

May 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

GATORZONE, don’t think that UT regrets firing Fulmer but many regret hiring Kiffin, although you do see a sizeable number of them that thought he (IKiffin) did a “good job”. I have no idea what they are basing that on. He only got embarrased in their last game and then suddenly pulled up and took that scary ol Lane Train right out of town. Set the program back at least 3 years, probably 5.

Typical Gator Fan

May 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

My Gators have a storied college football tradition that will be 20 years old this year. WOW! That’s a long time. Work ‘em, Silly Gators!!!

5IML

May 12th, 2010
3:18 pm

I bet no UGA football fan, player, coach, or administrator would trade a 10-win season average for two national championships in the last nine years. Clearly Richt is better than Saban and Meyer (probably put together). Aren’t statistics great?

BIg Al

May 12th, 2010
3:20 pm

I don’t think the issue with coach Richt is how many games he’s won. It’s how how many BCS Championship games Meyer and Miles have won in half the time. Granted Miles won 1 with talent that wasn’t his but he still won. Richt has had at least 3 great chances to get it done so far and each time he’s come up short. As far as Miles goes, his lack of skill really became obvious last year(Ole’ Miss game). Richt is a good coach who needs to find that missing something to get his team over the hump.

Reptiles Rule

May 12th, 2010
3:22 pm

kgator79…agreed, having a good winning percentage is great but why do you win in the first place? You win so that you can take home the trophy! Being second or third best is a good job but at the end of the day, you’re still the bridesmaid. But based on what you see in alot of marriages today, maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

Bama fan

May 12th, 2010
3:23 pm

Reptiles Rule and Gatorzone,

It wasn’t just that Kiffin embarrassed a fine tradition like UT. He also set them way back personnel wise by the sheer number of players that saw through this phony arse, didn’t want to play for him, and left the program. 11 or more players transferred after he got there. UT was down to 68 scholarship players during the season whereas most programs stay at the max of 85 or 1 or 2 below it. Just another part of his 1 year legacy at UT that it will take UT years to recover from.

Typical Georgia Fan

May 12th, 2010
3:26 pm

Yeah, we own the Gaytors! Just look at the record from only just 80 years ago! Woof…

Pete

May 12th, 2010
3:26 pm

Georgia wins 9-10 games with the schedule and makes a major bowl.They will not win any championship, but will right the ship. Folks that are close to the SEC realize that the coaches brought in are heads and shoulders over the ones we let go.

TonyBFan

May 12th, 2010
3:27 pm

7-5 is not going to cut it in Athens this fall, Tony. Sorry. You are right about the penalties and the turnovers, but it’s more than that. Yes, they beat Tech, but the Gators need a loss in the book via the Dawgs. Tebow’s gone so it’s supposed to be fair game. The off the field crap seems to be better. 7-5 is a winning record, true. That works in the ACC, not in the SEC. Les Miles? He would have been gone last year if they could have afforded his buyout. True?

1eyedJack

May 12th, 2010
3:28 pm

If Mark Richt had been the head coach at FSU the last ten years he would have won one if not two NCs and quite possibly UF would have only won one or none. He would have recruited better than Bobby Bowden and Stafford and Murray would probably have been Seminoles.

Although I believe CMR has done a good job recruiting Georgia he has a propensity to let really good recruits, that he really wanted badly, slip away to UT, UF, FSU, and Miami. (Lot of defensive players especially DBs drafted that hailed from Ga. but did not go to UGA)

Had he been able to sway some of those in-state star recruits to UGA he would have won one if not two NCs here.

I am not sold on the fact that it was Coach Richt as much as the assistants he had assigned to those recruits. Now that some of those guys are gone maybe we can keep more of those blue chippers. CMR has to find a way “to show me some love” better to some of these kids.

GATORZONE

May 12th, 2010
3:29 pm

Cleveland Steamer…

That is classic!!! :)

51ML, that is their tired arguement to a Tee!!!

tyler

May 12th, 2010
3:29 pm

keep making excuses for this loser dawg fans. it seems you people are willing to blame anybody you can for your teams short falls. Saban or Meyer could coach at ga. southern and wear your trashy UGA team out and all of you know it.

BIg Al

May 12th, 2010
3:32 pm

For 5IML, Really?! You really think any of your fans would trade the meaningless wins and 2 SEC title over the past 27 years for 2 National Championships?!! You’re out of your mind…. All that sounds like is excuses as to why UGA hasn’t won a national championship in 30 YEARS!!! It tool you 20 to win the SEC. I like Richt and being a resident of Georgia I pay taxes here so I invariably support his program so I root for him when he’s not playing BAMA. But to say You prefer wins over Rings is simply making excuses as to why UGA hasn’t beat Florida and Tennessee in the same year for 30 years.

Typical Georgia Fan

May 12th, 2010
3:33 pm

Besides, our real rival is Georgia Tech. Not Florida. And at least we don’t have to actually get on a plane ( for a whole hour!) and fly down to steamy hot, hot, hot Jacksonville to play them. Yep, lot’s of harmful UV rays down there, if you don’t believe me look at our coach!

Alabama

May 12th, 2010
3:38 pm

Listen up girls.

This is OUR conference.
Always has been. Always will be.

We run this conference.

Until someone catches us cheating again,
we’re going to keep running this conference.

5IML

May 12th, 2010
3:40 pm

Big Al,

You completely misread and, therefore, misunderstood my post.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
3:40 pm

Tony, your argument is silly. They both have underachieved the last couple of years. I guess you’re saying that Richt is safe because the fan base at UGA doesn’t expect as much as LSU? I don’t buy that. Both had great seasons, both are on the decline. Hopefully, for both of their sakes they can turn it back around.

kgator79

May 12th, 2010
3:43 pm

Has any UGA coach before Richt complained as much as he has about playing in Jacksonville against Florida?

Alphare

May 12th, 2010
3:43 pm

Finebaum is no different from Rush, Sean and so on. They are there to attract an audience, and they would say anything to achieve it.

And they do it with some success. Go figure.

Cleveland Steamer

May 12th, 2010
3:45 pm

Gatorzone,

I’m a Georgia fan. Still think it’s funny? Glad we can both laugh at something.

Dawghater

May 12th, 2010
3:47 pm

Of course CMR does not have anything to worry about, because there is no national championship pressue at UGA. There is not drive to win, nor pressure on the coaches to produce results, thus the article hit the nail on the head.

Winning a few SEC titles is good enough for UGA, however, CMR has lost his constituency and is starting to feel the heat, slightly. I suspect those dumb boosters will give him another contract extension this year, because they know there is no demand for coaches to come to UGA.

Kirby Smart did not even come back to his school for DC, so the booster base is already aware that they could get another Donnan or Goof.

Lee

May 12th, 2010
3:47 pm

Hey Tony,

I always enjoy your articles and insights. Your article is spot on however, I think that Les Miles is in more hot water than your article implies. Not only must he win over UNC, if he loses this year to Alabama at LSU, he’s really played his final LSU card. It is obvious also that he must win the “supposed to win” games. If he fails any of these tests, at best I think, he would simply finish out the season. LSU fans really have high expectations and with good reason – they have one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation. LSU fans also are smart enough to recognize that as their program becomes mediocre, those star recruits begin to take other programs (Florida, Alabama, Texas) more seriously. The case for Les Miles has more hanging in the balance for LSU than just this season.

Again, always enjoy your column and your show.

Lee

Typical Georgia Fan

May 12th, 2010
3:47 pm

Wow, our academic standards are so high! I know about Florida and their ratings but who the hell reads those things anyway? It’s no wonder that they have won mythical championships (to be further noted as such until we win one again)… we just can’t take all of those dumb thug players that Ala and Fla take all the time. Man it’s tough when all your players are freakin’ Rhodes scholars.