Les Miles: Love Him or Hate Him?

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Love him or hate him, Les Miles has done plenty of winning in Baton Rouge.

<p> What do the numbers say about Les Miles' tenure as head coach of the LSU Tigers?</p>

- by CoachesByTheNumbers.com

If you asked ten LSU fans last year their thoughts on Les Miles, five would say they love him and five would say they wouldn't be too disappointed if he took another job.

Let's get beyond the fickleness of the fans, take emotion completely out of the equation, and see what the numbers have to say about the Mad Hatter.

Before we get into the numbers on Miles, let's look at some quick numbers from LSU's football history to gather some perspective of the program's prestige.

Team Years Record WP% 10-Win Seas. SEC Champs Natl. Champs
LSU 1980-1999 124-100 55.4% 2 2 0

Over the 20 year period from 1980-1999, LSU football only won 24 more games than they lost. During this 20 year period, LSU only had two 10-win seasons and won only two SEC Championships. Nick Saban took the reigns in 2000 and here is what ensued:

Years Record WP% 10-Win Seasons Conf. WP% SEC Champs Natl. Champs CBTN Rating
2000-2004 48-16 75% 2 73.68% (56-20) 1 1

Clearly Nick Saban had a pretty large impact on LSU's program. He increased the WP% by 20 percentage points and had the same number of 10-win seasons as LSU did in the previous 20 years. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the National Championship he brought home. Given that LSU has only won seven national titles in school history, we can probably agree that this is a pretty big deal.

NOTE: LSU officially claims three national championships in 1958, 2003 & 2007, however, the school has been recognized as national champions by polling organizations on four additional occasions: 1908, 1935, 1936 and 1962.

Now, let's dive into Les Miles' numbers:

Years Record WP% 10-Win Seasons Conf. WP% SEC Champs Natl. Champs CBTN Rating
2005-2011 70-17 80.46% 4 72.22% (39-15) 1 1

Let's take a look at a few other data sets on Miles (rank below is for active and inactive coaches since 2001 with minimum of 3 years experience and only reflects their time coaching in the SEC)

School WP% in Close Games (4 pts. or less) Rank Among SEC Coaches in Close Games WP% in Blowouts (15 pts. or more) Rank Among SEC Coaches in Blowouts
LSU 68.42 (13-6) 2 (out of 18) 92.50 (37-3) 1 (out of 18)

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School

WP% Against Teams Over .500 Rank Among SEC Coaches WP% Against Teams Under .500 Rank Among SEC Coaches
LSU 67.39% (31-15) 2 (out of 18) 93.94% (31-2) 4 (out of 18)

A huge aspect/trait that so many people value in a coach is recruiting. Let's look at how good of a job Les Miles has done in that area compared to his predecessor:

Coach Years Avg. Recruiting Rank Avg. Stars Per Recruit
Nick Saban 2002-2004 6.33 3.34
Les Miles 2005-2011 8.29 3.61

So on the recruiting trail, his classes are ranked almost the same as Saban, and his average player is actually better. From the looks of the numbers, Les Miles has done a pretty solid job of maintaining and building upon what Nick Saban built at LSU.

The "game of the century" this weekend will feature the two top defenses in the country. One stat that we track that we find interesting is the number of times a team gives up 10+, 20+, 30+, 40+, and 50+ points. You can check these numbers out on our Coach's Rankings tab.

Since Les Miles got to LSU in 2005, LSU defenses give up less than 10 pts 32.18% of the time. Even more impressive, LSU defenses under Miles give up less than 20 pts in 58.62% of their games. The game this weekend in Tuscaloosa, while only a regular season game, plays a prominent role in the BCS National Championship picture. So hopefully we have shown with our data that Les Miles is a terrific coach and has built upon what Saban left for him.

For those LSU fans that think that is an easy task, you need to look no further than LSU offensive assistant Steve Kragthorpe. Go ask him how easy it was to build upon Bobby Petrino's success at Louisville.

We look forward to tuning in along with the rest of the country to watch two great teams and two great coaches go to battle on Saturday night.

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