New Georgia State football coach Trent Miles has a plan.
If you don’t believe him, you can look at the spiral-bound booklet that he wrote and brought with him, CEO style, to his interviews.
The end result of that plan is to turn Georgia State into a national power.
“Eventually we want to win a BCS game or in the new format get into a playoff,” he said, perhaps jolting to attention anyone who watched Georgia State go 1-10 last year.
Miles was introduced as Georgia State’s second football coach on Monday at the Sports Arena. He was hired last week, agreeing to a five-year contract that will pay him $450,000 per year.
With a marching band playing, his wife and four children sitting in the front row and a hundred or so fans in attendance, Miles spoke with the enthusiasm of someone who is unburdened by the past. The Panthers suffered their second consecutive losing season last year, dropping their three-year record to 10-23. Attendance declined to less than 12,500 a game, making the Georgia Dome seem more cavernous.
That is just what has happened. What will happen is perhaps more daunting.
The program will make the move to the FBS level in 2013, where they will play in the Sun Belt Conference, which just put four teams in bowls. And, Georgia State has games scheduled at Alabama, which is playing for the national championship, and at West Virginia in 2013.
But Miles knows pressure and he said he knows how to deal with it based upon experience and relationships. In answering one question, he referenced relationships with mentors Tyrone Willingham, Pat Hill and Marvin Lewis. Losing doesn’t seem to scare him.
Miles’ first job was at his alma mater, Indiana State. The program had reached such depths that he was told if he couldn’t turn it around, football would be shut down. After a 1-22 start, he posted three consecutive winning seasons.
“Nobody puts more pressure on me than me….and my wife,” he joked. “I really don’t feel pressure other than what I put on myself to succeed and to get these men where they want to go.”
That success and attitude put him on Georgia State’s radar when Bill Curry, the architect of Georgia State’s program, announced in August that he would retire from coaching after the season. In every screening list and interview athletic director Cheryl Levick went through to find a new coach, Miles’ name appeared on everyone’s “A” lists.
He arrived at his interview with the plan to turn around Georgia State’s program. He so impressed President Mark Becker after his second interview, Levick said Becker gave two thumb’s up and a “yeah” after Miles left the room.
“We’ve recruited a coach who knows how to build a winning program, and who does it the right way – with high-quality student-athletes who will represent us well, and with distinction in the community,” Becker said in his opening statement on Monday.
Now, the hard work begins.
Miles declined to say who would be on his staff, citing the hiring process. However, he hopes to have them hired as soon as possible and hinted that they would know the Atlanta area and that fans would be “shocked” by the names.
Miles admitted that he hasn’t watched a lot of film of Georgia State.
“I’m not worried about what on film because we are going to do what we do,” he said. “We are going to be a tough, hard-nosed football that plays as long as it takes to win.”
But he said the most important thing was to start recruiting. He talked of wanting to build a fence around Atlanta and the fertile areas in the state, which he recruited as an assistant at Notre Dame, building from the inside out. However, he said he would also recruit junior colleges and military preparatory schools to improve the talent level of the squad, which will increase to 85 scholarship players next year.
“As soon as I clear all my paperwork I’m going to get on the road and get going,” he said.
Before he begins looking for new players and staff he wanted to meet with the current players and staff. He spoke the team for an hour Monday morning at the practice facility and planned to meet with the current staff in the afternoon. Two players, offensive lineman Michael Davis and wide receiver Jordan Giles, were impressed.
“Coach has a lot of energy and I’m excited about that,” Davis said. “He showed us he has a solid plan. We are going to stick with that plan. It’s up to us to buy into that plan and have it translate onto the field.”
Miles wouldn’t commit to any particular style of offense, other than multiple, or defense, other than attacking, saying he would tailor the team to the strengths of the players. It’s what’s he did at Indiana State, where he had one of the best passing offenses on the FCS level in 2010, and one of the best running games and defenses this year.
“My philosophy is to win and score points,” he said.
It’s a long way from the bottom of the FCS to the top of the FBS, but Miles has a plan. It starts with a mission statement continues with goals and ends, he hopes, with trophies.
“We want to teach them how to compete, we want to teach them how to win, and then we want to win championships,” he said.
– Doug Roberson AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu