By the numbers: How Les Miles compares to other great SEC coaches
If LSU parts ways with Les Miles, it would be letting go of arguably the most successful coach in program history. Recent years may not indicate that, but Miles’ overall resume speaks for itself. The numbers don’t lie. Here’s a by the numbers look at how Miles compares to past LSU coaches and some of the greatest coaches in SEC history:
9 – Let’s begin with what Miles has accomplished on the recruiting trail. Miles has reeled in nine recruiting classes that were ranked in the top 10 in his 11 seasons at LSU, according to 247Sports. Three of those classes were ranked in the top 2 in the country. The three classes that “didn’t pan out” were in 2005 (Miles first season), 2008 and 2012. Those classes were ranked 13th, 12th and 14th, respectively. In other words, Miles has put together a top-15 recruiting class or better in every season at the helm.
Miles clearly has a knack for bringing in some of the best talent around the country, but it doesn’t matter unless it translates to the field. Here are some numbers that reflect just how effective Miles has been on the field.
2 – LSU has won two SEC Championships under Miles, which may not seem like many until comparing it to other storied coaches. Mark Richt has only two SEC titles in 15 seasons at UGA. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer won only two SEC titles in six seasons at Florida and Nick Saban only won two SEC Championships during his five-year stint in the Bayou. Believe it or not, Saban only has three SEC titles under his belt in eight seasons with Alabama, but could pick up his fourth title in a couple of weeks.
7 – Miles has seven 10-win seasons during his 11-year tenure with the Tigers. No other coach in LSU history has more than two 10-win campaigns. Miles has won at least 10 games four times since 2010 after rattling off three-consecutive 10-win seasons from 2005-07. For comparison’s sake, UGA’s Mark Richt has nine 10-win seasons in 15 years in Athens, Ga. Former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had 12 10-win seasons in 23 years, which means Miles would be on pace to exceed Spurrier.
10 – LSU has played in 10 bowl games under Miles and will play in an 11th this season. Only Charles McClendon has coached the Tigers in more bowl games. He coached in 13 bowl games during his 18-year tenure and went 7-6 in those contests. Miles is 6-4 in his bowl appearances with a 2-1 record in New Year’s Six bowl games. He could match McClendon for the most bowl victories in program history with a win this year. Miles actually has one more bowl victory during his tenure at LSU than Saban has at Alabama.
69 – Miles has won 69 percent of his conference games with a 60-27 record. That number is far more impressive when considering Miles’ longevity with the program. His winning percentage matches Richt in four fewer seasons and is not far behind Spurrier’s 72 percent. Miles’ conference winning percentage doesn’t measure up to Meyer or Saban, however. Meyer won 75 percent of his conference games at Florida, while Saban has won 82 percent of his games at Alabama and has won 78 percent of his SEC games at both LSU and Bama.
77 – Miles has won 77 percent of his games at LSU. That is a better win percentage as an SEC coach than Spurrier, Richt, Meyer and Saban during his stint with LSU. Miles is one of the most successful coaches in SEC history, according to Saturday Down South.
48 – Les Miles has gone 48-15 in five seasons from 2011 to the present. Nick Saban went 48-16 in his five years at LSU. A win on Saturday would ensure Miles a better record over the last five seasons than Saban had during his entire LSU tenure.
14 – This may be the number that everyone cares about and one of the biggest reasons why Miles is on the hot seat. Miles has gone just 35-14 since the 2011 season, when LSU lost 21-0 to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. That game might have marked the beginning of Miles’ downfall. Alabama has gone 46-6 during that same time period and has beaten LSU five times in a row.
Many have compared Miles and LSU to Saban and Alabama. Obviously, Miles cannot match up to Saban’s recent success, but this small sample size could diminish Miles’ complete body of work.
LSU fans may be clamoring for the next Nick Saban, but there’s only one of those. The numbers indicate that Les Miles had done a pretty darn good job of inheriting what Saban built at LSU and improving upon it. Be careful what you wish for, Tigers fans.