It seems inevitable now that a coach with a 60-27 record in SEC play (110-32 overall), two conference titles, three division titles and a BCS title will lose his job a week from today. He might be joined by the dean of SEC coaches who has won 144 games in 15 seasons, along with two SEC titles and three division titles.
If the reports are true, and guys like Scott Rabalais of The Baton Rouge Advocate and Tommy Krysan of Pelican Sports Network are respected and trustworthy, then it would seem Les Miles will coach the LSU Tigers once more, when they host Texas A&M this Saturday. Will Mark Richt be coaching his last game as Georgia’s head coach next Saturday when the Bulldogs play Georgia Tech in Atlanta? (Lose to the 3-8 Yellow Jackets and that answer will be an easy YES.)
Regardless of how competitve college football has become, it is hard to believe a coach with a .775 winning percentage (Miles) or a .738 winning percentage (Richt) would be in severe danger of losing his job, particularly when both teams stand at 8-3 on the 2015 season and are favorites to finish 9-3. (As of this writing LSU is a 5 1/2 point favorite over A&M, the UGA-GT game is presently “off” the books.)
One the other hand, after 15 or 11 years at their respective schools, the decision-makers (AD’s, school presidents, and most importantly – influential alumni) at Georgia and LSU can’t be accused of making hasty decisions.
At LSU where reports today say that AD Joe Alleva has the boosters willing to pay Miles’ $15-million buyout if necessary, the “Mad-Hatter” has always been an enigma. On paper, the record speaks for itself. Using the “eye test” the results also speak volumes, just not flattering ones.
Whether it be poor preparation, clock management, or a general look of being unprepared, Miles has often looked “in over his head” on the LSU sideline. No team in college football during Les Miles tenure has been more talented (including Alabama). Miles deserves the credit from procuring that talent, but also the condemnation for not doing enough with the talent.
In Athens, GA, Richt can be viewed much the same way; a “players coach” that does an outstanding job recruiting, but even more damning for Richt, Georgia seems to lose at least a couple games each year that have no business losing. The Bulldogs were the SEC East favorites this year, but will likely finish third in a weak Eastern division.
Both Richt and Miles have also committed the fatal sin of looking bad in the games that matter most. Richt is just 5-10 against bitter rival Florida, and has been embarrassed three straight times by Alabama. (That’s 1-3 for Richt vs. Saban)
Miles has also found it difficult to beat a Saban-led Crimson Tide. Though 6-6 overall against Bama, LSU has dropped five straight to Alabama.
I’ve never been a fan of the mindset, “We can’t fire [him/her] who will we get to coach?!” That’s a loser mentality, if you want to compete for national titles – which UGA & LSU clearly do, and more importantly should – ACT LIKE IT!
However, the “who will you get” syndrome applies here. The Dawgs and Tigers are not .500 teams, they are programs winning 75% of their games under their current coaches. A change cannot be made for change sake.
Word on the bayou is that Jimbo Fisher tops the LSU wish list. When asked today about the rumors, Fisher appropriately said he wouldn’t comment on them out of respect for the players at both Florida State and LSU. (The non-denial, denial.) Solid move Jimbo. Even more solid, and necessary, is for LSU to already have a deal in place for Fisher.
Same goes for Claude Felton, athletic director at UGA. If the timing is right for a change at head coach, Georgia better have a confirmation from Richt’s replacement already in place.
Both programs, fan bases, and head coaches deserve as classy a turnover as possible.