The Mad Hatter’s Mad Accomplishments (so far)

In College Football, General LSU, History on October 27, 2012 at 4:31 AM

I was talking to a Florida fan the other day, and shortly after we talked about Spurrier, he mentioned that Miles wasn’t doing a very good job at LSU.

I’m as frustrated as a lot of LSU fans with some issues. Clock management at the end of certain games against Ole Miss and Tennessee, refusing to give Jarrett Lee a chance in the BCS championship game in January, sticking with former OC Gary Crowton as long as he did, and so on.

But the man wins games and somehow finds a way to take teams that don’t seem particularly strong and have them win 7 of 8 or 6 of 7 and so forth. There was sort of a 2-year rebuilding process after the national championship, but take away Lee’s interception affliction in 2008 and a couple two-point losses in 2009, and those teams have similar records to the teams in Miles’ other 5 full seasons before this one.

The gold standard in recent coaching stints is Pete Carroll at USC, who went 110-20. I think Miles would have to have a few 1- or 0- loss teams in a row to even come close to 85% (Carroll won 84.6%), but he’s competitive with or ahead of other recent luminaries, particularly if you limit it to tenures in the last 10 years or those that (have) lasted longer than his. I’m not looking at career winning percentage but only at a particular school.

Saban (Ala.) 62-12 (83.8%)*
Spurrier (Fla.) 122-27-1 (81.7%)
Meyer (Fla.) 65-15 (81.3%)
Tressel (Ohio St.) 94-22 (81.0%)
Miles (LSU) 71-17 (80.7%)*
Stoops (Okla.) 144-35 (80.4%)*
Brown (Texas) 146-41 (78.1%)*
Richt (Ga.) 122-39 (75.8%)*
Carr (Mich.) 122-40 (75.3%)
Saban (LSU) 48-16 (75.0%)

*=active; record and percentage as of Week 8

Before I continue, I wanted to mention that of course I realize winning 70 games is nothing like winning 150 or 400. Being able to keep ahead of the other great programs over a decade or more is no easy task. Urban Meyer seemed to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown after 6 seasons at Florida.

But nonetheless, this is pretty good company to be in as far as how often your team wins games, and any fan of these teams will tell you that.

These are some historically great coaching tenures that had lower winning percentages (ties counted as half a win) than Miles has had so far:
Schembechler (Mich.) 194-48-5 (79.6%)
Holtz (Ark.) 80-21-2 (78.6%)
Royal (Texas) 167-47-5 (77.4%)
Blaik (Army) 121-33-10 (76.8%)
Holtz (N.D.) 100-30-2 (76.5%)
Hayes (Ohio St.) 205-61-10 (76.1%)
Bowden (FSU) 304-97-4 (75.6%)
Paterno (PSU) 409-136-3 (74.91%) {record includes 111 vacated wins}
McKay (USC) 127-40-8 (74.86%)
Vaught (Miss.) 190-61-12 (74.5%)

If you’re wondering where guys like Dooley, Robinson, Broyles, Dodd, Jordan, and even LSU’s McClendon are, I cut this off at 74.5%. But let me know if I miss a notable with a better record than 74.5% who coached, let’s say, over 100 games and isn’t mentioned by the end of this.

There are a few coaches I put into the somewhat-untouchable (at least without a good few years elapsing) Pete Carroll category. I thought of Jimmie Johnson and Dennis Erickson of Miami and Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy of Notre Dame. But I came up with a lot more where Miles is at least within about 3%. These include Parseghian (N.D., 83.6%), Bryant (Ala., 82.4%), Osborne (Neb., 83.6%), Devaney (Neb., 82.9%), Wilkinson (Okla., 82.6%), Switzer (Okla., 83.7%), and Neyland (Tenn., 82.9%).

When you’re in the same conversation with several people after whom stadiums are named, I think that’s a pretty good sign, at least as far as percentages. Coaches with short tenures don’t generally get that kind of treatment. Just looking at LSU, there isn’t a good comparison, at least not in the modern era, to what Miles has done. The only coaches who had winning percentages similar to Miles’ didn’t stay very long. Saban lasted 5 years, and Bill Arnsparger lasted 3 (each is credited with exactly 75%). Going back to the late 1950s/early 1960s, Paul Dietzel won 82.6% in his last four seasons (better than any four consecutive seasons under Miles), but combined with his first three seasons, that only amounts to 65.1% overall. If you were curious, McClendon (who coached 18 seasons, with a winning percentage of 68.2) has had a practice facility named after him, but the stadium is still known as Tiger Stadium (and sometimes Death Valley).

  1. […] writings of mine that might provide some interesting backstory. I wrote the first last week about Les Miles’ record at LSU, but it also compares his record to that of other coaches, including Saban’s at […]

  2. […] I had mentioned him less than two weeks ago in my blog about records and winning percentages of Les Miles and other prominent coaches. Many of the coaches on my list of historic greats are long gone, but some of the ones still alive […]

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