this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I can't find a video clip on ESPN's web site, probably because it was a very short interview clip, but Les Miles was "live" on SportsCenter last night. This may have gotten mentioned in one of the threads but I thought it was worthy of an OP.
It was odd that he was even on since LSU is only going to the Music City Bowl, but they got his take on bowl preparation and his thoughts on the playoff selection committee. Then, he was asked about Michigan and the interviewer didn't really pry much — just let him fire off a canned response and let him go.
Again, wish I had video and maybe someone else on the board can fill in the blanks, but it went something like...
"I think they're doing a great job and I like the process they have going right now. It's a wonderful place, and they deserve a great coach." The "Wonderful place" term was used in his press conference in 2007 that also featured "this damn fine football team" and "have a great day."
So reading into that, "I like their process" could mean a number of things.
- He's been privvy to the way it's been going, or he's at least been paying attention.
- He likes who they're going after.
- He likes the reported offer amount, knowing that he may be next in line(?)
The whole thing seemed like his handlers asked ESPN if he could go on the air and they obliged, and he laid out some statements that set him up to seem still interested and a logical second choice, without coming anywhere near saying as much. We've seen Miles make warm-hearted comments about Michigan before, but it was a bit surreal hearing them right now, in the eye of the hurricane of this coaching search with so much secretive speculation blowing about him as well.
THEN AGAIN, taking the maize colored glasses off this could just be an affirmation of what he told reporters off the record the other day, and he's just wanting to make sure public perception is that he's staying put. However I did not hear "I am not interested" in that segment.
Anyone else catch that last night? Again, hoping to find video...
The board's choice for our new head coach is pretty clear: Jim Harbaugh. But who comes in second?
It turns out that's also pretty clear:
Les Miles won the board poll by a hefty margin, garnering an even 49% of the vote. The runner-up, Dan Mullen, mustered barely better than half that number (24.79%) and from there it's a steep drop to any kind of third place. Here are the results, followed by a few thoughts:
- Les Miles - 342 votes (49%)
- Dan Mullen - 173 votes (24.79%)
- Tom Herman - 64 votes (9.17%)
- Other - 64 votes (9.17%)
- Todd Graham - 23 votes (3.30%)
- Jim McElwain - 19 votes (2.72%)
- Greg Schiano - 8 votes (1.15%)
- Craig Bohl - 5 votes (0.72%)
I would attribute the lower number of votes to yesterday's news--before the confirmation of Hoke's meeting with Hackett, the votes were coming in much, much faster, but the board got understandably focused on other things by the afternoon. That said, the trends were clear: Miles stayed around 50% the entire time, and Mullen was always the clear runner-up in the 25% range. Tom Herman was a bit surprising as the #3 choice, even if he was dead even with "other."
Jim Hackett's press conference was flawlessly executed. That said, he built an idealistic picture of a coach that's going to be awfully hard to find. It seemed he weighs on-field success and character about equally, and even Jim Harbaugh has plenty of detractors in the latter category. Don't get me wrong--if Harbaugh wants the job, he's got it. But Hackett's focus on integrity is going to give the media lots of excuses to try to dig up dirt and question his commitment to character.
For that reason, I strongly believe that Les Miles will NOT be considered a serious candidate for the job. If all you know about Miles is that he has been extremely successful in CFB's best division, you only know some of the story. Les has been the subject of many rumors of scandal and impropriety over the years, and, while I'm sure not all are true, there is plenty of ammunition for the media to throw in Hackett's face should he hire Les, creating another press-fueled shitstorm the university does not want.
Our #2 guy isn't without warts either. Dan Mullen's recent scholarship withdrawal from QB Chason Virgil--whom Mullen had asked to enroll early and is just a few days from graduation now--didn't please the recruit's coach:
Chason Virgil -35 tds/6int passing -8td rushing. One of the best young people I've ever coached -only flaw was trusting "coach" Mullen.— Coach Jeff Neill (@neill_jeff) November 21, 2014
Tom Herman seems clean so far, but he hasn't run a program yet. Todd Graham switches jobs more than Taylor Swift switches crushes. McElwain also looks clean, but is a front-runner for the Florida job. Schiano has his detractors--though more in the Harbaugh vein of abrasive intensity--and most people don't even know who Craig Bohl is.
What I'm getting at here is that I believe it's likely that there is a candidate who has a good shot at winning the job that we are not currently considering. A good point was made by a poster last night that Bob Stitt might be a better fit for Hackett's criteria than many names we've on which we've fixated. Here's a good place to learn a bit about Stitt. He makes no secret about his desire to coach at the top level.
I have no idea who it might be, but it may be time for us to think outside of the names we've gotten used to in the past few months. Then again, it may just be Jim Harbaugh.
UPDATE - Final Results:
Les Miles - 663 (59.62%)
Dan Mullen - 449 (40.38%)
Votes from 13 countries.
Assuming neither Harbro is available, whom would you want to be our next HC?
Miles crushed Schiano...but what about Mullen?
CLICK HERE for the new poll...I will post results tomorrow.
I'll keep posting polls this week until we have an MGoBlog champ.
UPDATE: Next poll will have all non-Harbaugh options.
With Hackett taking his sweet time in firing (or retaining!) Hoke, I have read a lot of material out there that says this search comes down to two names if neither Harbaugh wants the job: Les Miles and Greg Schiano.
To me, those are both unappealing options. But if forced to choose one, whom would it be?
CLICK HERE to take the survey. I will post the results later.
UPDATE: With 100 votes in, it 96% Miles, 4% Schiano. Actually, there are 857 votes in, but the percentages have been essentially the same all through the voting.
Part of the purpose of this poll was to give an unofficial voice to the fans...I knew Schiano would be unpopular, and I hope in some small way this helps the people in charge of things see how the fanbase views that hire.
I will post a few more polls in the next few days that should be more competitive.
Alternative title: You want a 1 year wonder named Mullen over this guy?
It has been interesting to read all over MGo msg boards, and hear on the podcasts the conventional wisdom that Les Miles peaked a few years ago and has begun to regress significantly. Asking a coach to remain at 1-2 losses indefinitely is something only Bama fans can expect. And as sports lovers know the difference between a 9-3 year and a 11-1 year can often be 3 -5 plays.
So I thought I'd take a look at how Miles LSU teams offense + defense data stacked up the past 3 years (inclusive of 2014 which is far enough along to be useful) versus the first 7 years. The data will probably surprise those who have bought into the mythology of Les Miles dropping off of late.
Columns 3-5 are three measures of offense, of which I favor columns 4/5 for rigor (FEI began in 2007). Same for columns 7-9 for defense, with emphasis on colums 8-9.
|W/L||Tot Off||oFEI||oS&P+||Tot Def||dFEI||dS&P+|
|First 7 Years||62.3||28.4||19.6||11.6||16.4||12.3|
|Last 3 Years||62.3||29.7||21.7||12.0||18.7||15.0|
Miles' teams are remarkably consistent. All 6 offense/defensive measures show a variance of 0-3 in the past 3 years versus the first 7 years. That's a rounding error in the big picture of 128 slots.
Now of course in the end the W/L record matters. But if you analyze a coach only on that you will miss the forest for the trees.
- Miles 2012 team had 3 losses - by 8 to FL, by 4 to Bama, by 1 to Clemson. They also had a handful of close wins. LSU could have been anywhere from a 12-1 to 8-5 based on a few bounces.
- Miles 2013 team had 3 losses - by 3 to GA, by 3 to Ole Miss, by many to Bama. They only had 1 "close" win. LSU could have been a 12-1 team with 1 blowout loss to Bama very easily.
- The 2014 team has an offense which would make OSU's and UM's look like graybeards - essentially every skill player went to the NFL post 2013. Even with all thoses losses, if they played in the Big 10 (with weaker competition) their offensive FEI would be 3rd best in the confernce. There has been 1 blowout loss to Auburn and 2 close losses to the #1 and #4 teams in the country.
Miles has never had an elite QB other than Russell who he inherited from Saban. He has not really had elite RBs either - usually that offense is a manball style with good OLs and aNFL type WR here and there (who lack QBs to get them the ball regularly). And it's paired with a normally elite defense. Miles built at LSU what Brady promised in Ann Arbor.
Now if you want to argue Les cannot repeat that record here (where the conference is worse and he will be LOLing at 8 of the 14 Big 10 teams - "wait the Big 10 has 8 Vanderbilts?"), or he relies on JUCOs too much (as does Mullen), or he can't speak well enough in public forums, or he has no friends in the UM AD - well that's another conversation to have.
But the mythology of LSU regression of late is not born out by the data. LSU has essentially had the same team the past 3 years as it had the previous 7 on average - it has just picked up an extra close loss or two here or there vs elite years. That's football.
And I can make an argument that Miles today carries a lot less risk than Miles of 2008-2009 when it looked like he carried Saban's players to success and then once Miles' recruits filtered in things fell off. Of course 2010-2013 proved that not to be accurate but post 2009 you did not know that.
If the Harbaugh Hail Mary fails, it would be silly to not put Miles in the next tier of candidates. Miles has a better situation than Mullen at LSU but has a decade worth of great to elite seasons (vs 1!), runs a style of offense suited for the players recruited at UM (vs a run spread Mullen brings of which we are eliminating the last few players recruited for it this year), loves the damn school, and the "success due to JUCO" argument is the same for both. And if interested UM's average recruiting ranking during the Miles era at LSU is #11; LSU's is #9.
Hard to understand any logic calling for Mullen over Miles unless age trumps 15 other coaching measures Miles owns over Mullen. And 5-7 years of a proven commodity is better than a 1 hit wonder who if a failure won't be here 5-7 years himself.
Technical notes - I am using 3 measures.
(1) The NCAA's total offense + defense - which is a very simplistic measure that ranks teams on nothing other than total yards gained or allowed per game. This benefits teams in bad conferences over teams in good conferences as any halfway decent unit will put up PED laden performance. To that end if you focus solely on total defense, the Big 10 is in a golden era. In year 2014, 4 of the top 10 defenses are from th Big 10 (Wiscy #1, UM #7). And 8 of the conferences 14 teams have defenses ranked in the top 25 in the entire nation. Of course that reflects on the horrid state of offenses in this era led by a bunch of bad QBs. Plus a lot of MAC games in OOC. So I don't love this measure that much.
(2) Football Outsiders FEI measure and (3) Football Outsiders S&P+ measure. Both of these incorporate various strength of schedule adjustments, garbage time adjustments, blowout adjustments etc to give a more comprehensive view of a unit other than yards gained or yards given up. Read more about them here and here.
The AD change has happened, and most everyone expects a coaching change to follow. I don't know about you, but my views have evolved quite a bit since the whole CC bit started in earnest after Minnesota. Most of that change has been the result of research into the candidates, but some has also been feelingsball.
I'm curious to see what everyone else thinks. Here's my current opinion, broken into tiers:
Tier 1 - Harbaugh
Jim or John, I'd be equally ecstatic with either. Jim is the proven college HC, John is the nicer guy with the SB ring.
Tier 2 - Yes, please
These are the guys that I believe are the best candidates not named Harbaugh.
- Dan Mullen - Offensive guru who has built a defensive juggernaut. Appears to be the total package and has the added bonus of echoing the Woody/Bo relationship vis-a-vis Meyer. My top choice in tier two.
- Todd Graham - All he is does is win, wherever he's coaching. Not sure he'd move to the midwest.
- Gary Patterson - Defensive coach that decided to evolve offensively this year and is knocking on the playoff door. Would overhaul the roster as much as anyone.
- Jim McElwain - Former 'Bama OC has turned Colorado State (3-9 for three straight seasons before McElwain) into a double-digit win team that has progressed steadily on both sides of the ball and will probably win the Mountain West.
Tier 3 - Ummm...okay
Guys that make sense, I guess, but I would not be pumped about.
- Mark Stoops - Has rapidly advanced a once-pathetic Kentucky team. Will the improvement continue?
- Greg Schiano - Demeanor aside, his HC record is good, but certainly not great. Is he a good coach?
- Tom Herman - My favorite coordinator candidate. He seems capable of adapting to his personnel and changing the plan mid-game. Also, I like the idea of taking Urban's top assistant. But can he run an entire program?
- Mike Gundy - Seems like a good coach and a great quote, but hasn't been amazing since 2011 and the Les Miles ties cocern me. Would he run a clean program?
- Kyle Whittingham - Having a pretty impressive season at Utah, and wasn't too stubborn to change his offense. Is he ready for a big-time job?
Tier 4 - DO NOT WANT
- Les Miles - Call me arrogant, naive, or whatever you want--I still don't want a douchebag running our program.
- Dave Doeren, Butch Jones, Craig Bohl, Matt Wells, Mark Hudspeth - Not proven yet.
- Scott Frost, Kirby Smart, Bud Foster - Would they stay?
If I didn't put a name on the list, I'm not currently interested. What does the board think?