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?

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477 comments Add your comment

Mean Machine

May 12th, 2010
3:47 pm

Aside from the poor discipline the past 2 seasons(on & off the field), what has changed across the landscape of the SEC (that directly affects UGA) since UGA’s last SEC title in 2005?
2005 – Spurrier’s first year at SC
2006 – Meyer takes over at UF
2007 – Saban takes over at Bama
2009 – Kiffin takes over at UT

Clearly, CMR better step up his game if UGA is going to compete for SEC titles. Grantham is going to have to show immediate improvement on defense.

Dawghater

May 12th, 2010
3:48 pm

Until UGA can find a way to get past Florida, there are no national titles in thier near future, so basically, call it a day and be satisfied with 8-4.

Barkley Jones

May 12th, 2010
3:49 pm

Mr Barnhart,
Georgia’s trouble with penalties started with the big one in Jax in 2008. Check it out. Before then, they were just fine. After that celebration penalty, they have been just terrible. Say what you want, but to me it means the football gods are really mad at Richt. Reminds me about the time years ago when on the last day of the season, the Mariners took out a young rookie in the fifth inning and replaces him with randy Johnson. The Mariners were leading big time, and Randy had never had a 20 win season. So they brought him in before the rookie could legally get the win, pitched Johnson 2 innings and everyone else after that no more than 1 inning. Official scorer had no choice but to give Johnson the win, his 20th. After that, Johnson did not win a game in the playoffs, or next season in April. Took quite a while for the baseball gods to forgive him.

Alphare

May 12th, 2010
3:50 pm

I have enormous respect for coach Richt.

But I still have some opinions about the topic:
(1) they both coach in colleges that attract recruits with little recruiting effort
(2) their teams both ranked low while recruiting ranked high

Dawghater

May 12th, 2010
3:51 pm

Miles wants to get fired from LSU, then he can inherit the Michigan program once Rodriquez is fired in 2 years or less. LSU will go about 10-2 and they might get close to a title, but more importantly, Rodriquez will tank the Michigan program and Les will be on his way.

Speaking of tanked, CMR already has one foot out the door on his way back to Miami. Word has it on the street that Randy Shannon could be fired or asked to step down in 2 years or less, opening the door for CMR to return to Miami…a winning program. (5 titles since 1985).

kgator79

May 12th, 2010
3:54 pm

Alabama….while Bama is the current SEC and National champion, your going to have to soon realize this is not the 60s and 70s. No one team runs this conference any more, especially a team who won only 1 SEC title this past decade and 3 total in the last 20 years.

The Kentucky Mildcats

May 12th, 2010
3:55 pm

Are you guys nuts? Man I hope they sign richt to a lifetime contract. We are one lucky Georgia 4th down hail mary pass away from having spanked the dawgs 3 out of the last 4 years. We even ran the dawg fans out of their own stadium last year with the game hanging in the balance midway through the 4th qtr.

Richt is 10-10 in the sec east the last 4 years so I hope he stays for a long, long, long time. Don’t care what he did in the early 2000s. I just know that in the last 4 years the trend is a clear downward trajectory. I hope he will be the dogs coach forevuh!

Alabama

May 12th, 2010
3:59 pm

Hey kgator79:

How do you like my new Aligator shoes.

I picked them up in Atlanta in December.

I plan getting another pair just like these next December.

I’m going to use them to keep kicking everybody’s azz.

The Kentucky Mildcats

May 12th, 2010
3:59 pm

Dawghater,

Why would Michigan take a Les Miles if he is failing in dramatic fashion ever since cycling through Saban’s players? That would be a really dumb move.

Richt to Miami sounds right though but I’m hoping dawgs keep him here forever. In 2 years Shannon will be gone and Richt will also be gone for his inability to beat Florida and win the sec. But Richt will still be seen as a good coach whose only issue was that he was being dominated by Urban. Miami would gladly take him. Besides, where else can the man keep such an awesome sun tan!

Alabama

May 12th, 2010
4:02 pm

Last time we played the candy-azz pretenders from athens

we stepped on their with a hob-nail boot.
we crushed their faces…..by half-time.

DP

May 12th, 2010
4:03 pm

Hey Vince, the combined turnover margin for those 5 was +58. Boise State was +21, Alabama +19, Texas +9, Florida +7, TCU +2. You think turnover margin might have something to do with scoring margin since the average turnover is probably worth 30-40 yards of field position?

Between committing more penalties and turnovers, Georgia probably spotted their opponents something in the neighborhood of 100 yards a game last year. I’m sure that had nothing to do with finishing 8-5.

Alabama

May 12th, 2010
4:05 pm

Well, Look down here.

I got me sh*t covered bulldoggie
stuck to the bottom of my Aligator shoes.

Better go scrape that off.

The Kentucky Mildcats

May 12th, 2010
4:10 pm

Alabama,

Enough with the smack talk. Its fans like you that turn people off about Alabama football.

DP,

Good stats. Funny how turnover margin and scoring margin all correlate together and that the best 5 teams in the nation are all positive in a big way in those numbers.

DP

May 12th, 2010
4:18 pm

Mildcats, I wouldn’t assume “Alabama” is actually an Alabama fan given the number of trolls who post under one handle after another.

9999

May 12th, 2010
4:20 pm

Mean Machine:

Said the exact same thing hours ago,
only to get nothing but spew from GA fans.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
4:21 pm

It’s a shame there are so many childish fools on here that don’t want to talk football….just trying to be the “class clown” or hurl insults at any program other than their own. It’s from several fanbases (UGA, GT, UA, UF, TN). Can’t we just block these “children”?

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
4:25 pm

Mean Machine, I think that has more to do with Richt’s lack of success than 95% of the Dagw fan base care to admit. The level of play has gone up in the SEC over the past 5-6 years and he has been slow to react. The DC change should have happened the year before. I expect Richt to get UGA going again. I still think they are one more year away from competing in the East again due to the new defensive scheme and the QB with no experience. They should be very competitive in 2011.

WVMountaineer

May 12th, 2010
4:32 pm

Hi Tony.
Neither one of these guys should have any heat on them.
They are two of the top 20 coaches in the country.

It’s all being pushed by unrealistic fan and alumni expectations.

mt

May 12th, 2010
4:39 pm

Your right about them being in different situations, Miles has won a National Championship and Richt has not. Good reporting Tony!

jumbeauxtiger

May 12th, 2010
4:44 pm

TonyBFan

May 12th, 2010
3:27 pm
“Les Miles? He would have been gone last year if they could have afforded his buyout. True?”

He has a large buyout but LSU can come up with the money. No way he wouldn’t have gotten fired 2 seasons after winning the NC.

However if there is not significant improvement this year he very well may be gone.

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:10 pm

Hey Paul Finnebun:

Has Nick Saban ever won a Nationla Champion in less than 4 years, in other words, has he ever won a championship, with his own players?

Greg

May 12th, 2010
5:10 pm

I say that get over your love affair with Urban. Yes, UF has won 2 national Championships but it was more out of luck than talent. One year all 5 teams in front of them had to lose- how often does that happen? the other year the SEC officials helped the cause more than anything. I am not saying they were not a good team- I am just saying Urban is not GOD. That said, yes, UGA needs to kick it up a notch. No excuses for the talent we have had. The total lack of discipline has been the main problem…inmates running the asylmn. Also recruiting- we need to get players that want to be at UGA….want to win. We blew it totally going after stafford…self centered and all about him and ticket to NFL. We have to have coaches that recognize that. we didnt even win the east with Stafford and Knowshon….nuff said….

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:12 pm

i mean, didn’t he win his championship at LSU in his 4th year, with someone else’s players?

didn’t Saban win his 2nd championship in his 3rd year at Alabama with someone else’s recruits?

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:13 pm

oops, meant to say, has Saban ever won a National championship after his 4th year at a school, with his own recruits?

No, he has not.

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:14 pm

Mark Richt has ZEOR HEAT, NADA, HIS SEAT IS IN THE FROZEN TUNDRA SOMEWHERE.

Mark richt is the 3rd most winningest coach in the nation, and unlike Saban, has won 90 games in 9 seasons, at the same school, in the SEC.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
5:20 pm

Greg, the only people I ever see saying Urban is a “GOD” are Dawg fans saying that we Gator fans think he is. We don’t think he is a god. We know he is a damn fine coach. Period.

NoAxeToGrind

May 12th, 2010
5:23 pm

Richt will be kept around this year despite whatever this season’s record may be because of all the Richt lovers and the fact that he is ” a really class act”, but let Urban and UF beat the “you know what” out of him and UGA this year on national TV again and see how far that will get him. Those who say he doesn’t “coach up” good talent may be on to something. At any rate, Mr. Barnhart, Richt’s position may be not quite as secure as you think. I wouldn’t sell Finebaum short on this one.

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:27 pm

I’d imagine Paul F doesn’t want to compare the winning % of Richt and Saban, kind of embarrasing how bad Richt beats down Saban there.

And a #2 finish in 2007, and a #3 finish in 2002, was good enough to get into the national championship but didn’t, and both years, just as good as anything Saban’s ever done.

Saban goes 6, 7, or 8 win season, 50% of his coaching years. Richt has NEVER had a 6 or 7 win season.

Jacob

May 12th, 2010
5:28 pm

Ask Saban how many players he has sent to the NFL, and how many Heisman trophy winners he has coached up compare both to Richt, embarrasing for Nick.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
5:32 pm

Jacob, I agree that Richt has a fine overall record. But to say just as good as anything Saban’s ever done is just silly. Saban won a NC at LSU and another at Bama. The one at Bama was a perfect 14-0. Richt, Miles, Spurrier or even Meyer has never done that. I understand your passion, but let’s keep it honest.

Eddie

May 12th, 2010
5:38 pm

I agree Jacob, 13-1 and wining the SEC in 2002 usually gets you in, if your last name is Meyer, so Richt’s had a couple of National Championship years.

Additionally, Richt has coached in 5 National Championships. Many more than Nick Saban will EVER coach in.

Eddie

May 12th, 2010
5:42 pm

Paul Finnebun is actually wrong.

88% of the people AJC polled say Georgia will have a better year than last year, or compete for a championship.

12% agree with naysayer Paul Finnebun.

12% doesn’t make a seat even mildy warm, that would be a very ice cold, seat, somewhere in Alaska.

Here’s the survey:

http://blogs.ajc.com/junkyard-blawg/2010/04/24/is-confidence-high-again-in-the-bulldog-nation/

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
5:49 pm

Eddie, do you really think that a poll conducted on the UGA fan base will give an accurate look at what product they put on the field? I’m sure if you polled any SEC team’s fan base they would say that they will be better than last year. The only two exceptions would be Bama (can improve on 14-0) and UT (they know they are in for a rough year). That poll is not by experts….it’s by your own fans!

Eddie

May 12th, 2010
5:52 pm

88% of AJC readers are confident in Richt about next year and see things getting better, not worse.

Eddie

May 12th, 2010
5:54 pm

Richt’s coached in 5 Nationla Championships in 16 years, Saban has coached in 2 in 14 years. His record at Miami was embarrasing too.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
5:57 pm

And what percentage of those polled would you say are UGA fans? I’d say AT LEAST 75%. Listen, I think UGA will be better than last year. My prediction is 9-4 or 10-3 if they really gel. Who knows? They could even go 11-2 with a little luck. My point is that the poll is only a measure of fan’s confidence. If he does indeed fail to improve on last year’s 8-5 record then I’m pretty sure the seat will be HOT!

DP

May 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

“Jacob” and “Eddie” are clearly the same guy pretending to have a conversation and it’s clear that it is the same boob who was bombarding Barnhart’s blog with the same carefully selected stats a week or so ago. What’s the name he was posting under last week?

Yeah, Saban won in his 4th year at LSU with the players of the previous guy who I think went 3-8 in his last year and the guys in Saban’s 2008 recruiting class like Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Terence Cody, Marcel Dareus and Mark Barron had nothing to do with Alabama’s national championship. It was all Shula’s guys.

What an idiot.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

Your point about Richt coaching as an assitant in NC games is meaningless. Hell, Charlie Weis and Romeo Cronell coached as assistants in several Super Bowls. Does that make them better coaches than Richt? I think not.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
6:02 pm

DP, you may be right. I’m suspecting Patrick has changed his handle…..again! He is constantly trying to sell everyone on mark Richt. Maybe it’s really Mark’s mother!

Reptiles Rule

May 12th, 2010
6:04 pm

No, Urban is not God…… remember??…Spurrier was. That’s what we used to say anyway, just to hack off opposing fans. Urban is respected and revered in Gainesville and would be welcomed to retire here. Everyone here wants Urban and his family to be healthy and happy with whatever the future holds for him. Hopefully, that future will be him wearing the orange and blue.

DP

May 12th, 2010
6:05 pm

jacob = eddie = pat sulley

and who knows how many others

The tortured stats that are tilted toward Mark Richt and away from Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and anybody else other than Mark Richt are his blogging DNA.

Beast from the East

May 12th, 2010
6:09 pm

Enter your comments here

DP

May 12th, 2010
6:12 pm

Hey pat/eddie/jacob, don’t forget that according to the most delusional of Dawg Nation, Grantham has tutored Saban’s defenses in the offseason so under your accounting methods Grantham should probably be able to claim 2 national championships as well. And I think he knows Bill Belichick so he probably should be credited with 3 Super Bowl rings. No, make that 5 Super Bowl rings because Belichick was an assistant coach for Parcells in 2 Super Bowl wins and by extension Grantham gets a piece of those as well. So that’s what, a combined 15 or 20 BCS championships and Super Bowls for Richt/Grantham versus 2 for Saban?

Judd

May 12th, 2010
6:21 pm

DP = bEAST FROM THE eAST = NOAXETOGRIND = PAT

Sorry those facts didn’t suit you. Go back to your hypothetical world and make up your own reality.

Ken

May 12th, 2010
6:27 pm

Judd-

I agree, some of these folks just like to make mindless conjecture, they don’t like cold hard evidence that proves their hypothesis’ are wrong.

I agree with you, I like some facts, especially when someone like Mr. Paul F is involved.

Any reasonable person would agree more with Jacob & Eddie, than Beat or DP.

Fun Dunn

May 12th, 2010
6:31 pm

Judd, you are the man. The only people on this blog that are rational, DP accuses of being delusional, how’s that for rational, What a loon!

Buster

May 12th, 2010
6:33 pm

DP-

Your blatantly anti-Georgia posts are the biggest waste of time on this blog. Are you related to Paul?

kgator79

May 12th, 2010
6:36 pm

Gotta love the UGA fan who cries that UF won two national titles with Meyer only on luck and not talent….all I have to say is, look at the NFL draft. Then again this is coming from UGA fan whose two best teams in the last 27 years (2002 and 2005) STILL couldnt beat Florida with UF having first year coaches both those years. Guess I’d be bitter toward Florida too.

Dan the Man with the Plan

May 12th, 2010
6:36 pm

Jacob-

your 5:12 post, best I’ve read this year. Bet ole Paul didn’t want to hear that, eh?

GO HEELS

May 12th, 2010
6:37 pm

JUMBEAUXTIGER…… IM BEGINING TO QUESTION YOUR FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE???? LSU WILL BE FACEING THE BEST DEFENSE THAT WILL SEE ALL YEAR…..

9 UNC players projected to get drafted…. 4 first rounders and all from defense 6 from the defense in total….

LSU wont get over 150 yds in this game trust me