Underrate. What does that mean? Webster’s defines it as ‘to rate too low’.
Two SEC head coaches come to mind when talking about the most underrated: Les Miles and Mark Richt, both of whom have won multiple SEC Championships, and both coaches are largely underappreciated.
But let me tell you why Miles is the SEC’s most underrated head coach.
Known for his downright quirky self, Les Miles has recorded seven 10-win seasons in nine years at LSU, including five where he won 11 or more, and he won a BCS National Championship in 2007 and played for another in 2011. He’s a gambler, a poor clock manager and is the gift that keeps giving incredible one-liners. In 2008-09, Miles went 17-9 in back-to-back seasons, but that’s been the lowest point during his tenure.
Could any coach with a pulse win as much as Miles at LSU? With the Tigers’ tradition, resources, facilities and fertile backyard full of top prospects, could just anyone duplicate what Miles has done? LSU had just three winning seasons in 1989-99, but Greg McElroy would tell you Les Miles owes it to Nick Saban.
Les Miles has done more at LSU in the last nine seasons and continually receives less credit than he deserves.
Athlon Sports ranked all the head coaches in college football for 2014, and Miles ranked behind Mark Richt and fifth overall. Miles has a better overall winning percentage (.798 vs. .737) and a better SEC winning percentage (.722 vs. .692) than Richt. Like Richt, Miles has won two SEC Championships, but he’s also won a national championship in 2007 and played for another in 2011. In the past six seasons, Georgia has played 17 SEC teams that finished above .500 in league play, and Georgia’s record is 4-13 (.235). That’s, well, underachieving. And Miles has accomplished all of this playing in college football’s toughest division.
Not only is Miles a very good head coach and dynamic recruiter, but he can put a serious staff together. He has arguably the country’s top recruiter in running backs coach Frank Wilson. He made a dynamite hire in Cam Cameron to coordinate his offense, and the longevity and sustainability of John Chavis’ defenses have certainly added to Miles’ success and tenure. But who put that staff together? Exactly. You’ll notice there has also been low coaching turnover in Miles’ tenure.
Outside of Nick Saban and maybe Steve Spurrier or Gus Malzahn, what other SEC coach would you want leading your program? Give me Les Miles, and you can have whomever else you want.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports