A REMINDER: Calculating What We Almost Lost

Excerpts from "Is Les Miles the Most Valuable Coach in College Football?"

Some LSU fans, and not a "conservative reporter"-type minority of sport media pundits, don't think so.  At 10-2, in a year when LSU beat more ranked teams than any other top-10 team, there are still some calling for his ouster.

That doesn't make sense when you consider that Miles has the highest winning percentage of any coach in LSU history.  By any traditional method of evaluating coaches, Miles is 'Hall of Fame' great.


n typical Louisiana fashion (I am familiar), Miles is judged not by the 61 victories, but the 17 losses.  The victories are not judged even by the result but the margin and if you didn't win by a lot, you might as well have lost.

If a player is better than expected (Jacob Hester), he was just over looked by recruiting services. But if he is not yet performing at the level of his initial hype (Russell Shepard), then it's because Miles and crew can't evaluate or develop talent.

If a player doesn't execute, it is because Miles didn't coach him up. On the other hand, when players do execute, it's because they were just great to begin with.

When Miles won in his initial years, it was because he inherited Nick Saban's players. Yet this year, without a single Saban recruit and with a still struggling offense, LSU traverses one of the most difficult schedules in the country and it’s because LSU recruits talent that wins despite him.


Since 2005, when Miles took over the program, LSU's Football team has increased its APR—Academic Progress Rate, a measure the NCAA uses in determining a school's compliance with academic regulations—from 923 to 960 in 2009, which ranks in the top four in the SEC.

Miles has two SEC West crowns, an SEC and a National Championship to his credit. 


Under his leadership, LSU's recruiting has finished only once outside of the top 10, finishing No. 11 in 2005, when Miles was hired with less than a month to go before National Signing Day.

LSU is currently projected to finish in the top five for the fourth time in Miles' six years in Baton Rouge.

Miles also runs, what is by all accounts, one of the cleanest programs in the increasingly ill-reputed toughest conference in the country.


In 2004, LSU ranked in the middle of the pack in contributing about $2.2M to the bottom line.  Last year, LSU's Football program alone was valued at $89M, raking in a whopping $39M annually in profits.


Even amidst the most brutal commentary—mostly from LSU’s own fan base and local media—over the three years that have followed [the infamous "have a great day"] press conference, Miles has maintained his deep affection for the school, its fans and the state of Louisiana.

As other suitors come calling, the fanbase is still somewhat divided. But for those hoping that LSU can maintain not only a competitive football team, but an enviable bottom line, the thought of losing the most valuable coach in college football is more than a little scary.

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