The Mad Hatter! Yes, that's what he's known as amongst the ranks of college football followers. Mad.........as in a "mad scientist", not Mad, as in Straight-Jacket-Mike Shanahan-crazy!
Les Miles is an offensive coach - make no mistake about that. But what makes him even more intriguing, is that he is a former offensive linemen, who was a two year letterman under the great Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan. Miles began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Schembechler at Michigan, but soon left to become the offensive line coach at then powerhouse Colorado. After five season at Colorado, The Mad Hatter returned to his alma mater to take on the same position. There, he helped the Wolverines to eight winning seasons, and four Rose Bowl appearances. Miles left Michigan for the second time to become the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. After a brief stint as tight ends coach in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, he returned to Oklahoma State to tackle his first head coaching gig. He turned a losing program around in just one season, and lead the team to three consecutive bowl games, and 2002 Big 12 Coach of the Year. Miles' tenure at Oklahoma State ended with some controversy, as he was implicated in dealings of misconduct in a Sports Illistrated article citing Miles, and other members of the Oklahoma State coaching staff ran a bonus system that payed players for no-show jobs that were linked directly to boosters of the university. Although the reports were concerning from an NCAA perspective, it didnt stop LSU from offering Miles their head coaching job in 2005. Les accepted, and has been there since, leading the Tigers to a 94-24 record, and the 2007 National Championship.
Why Les Miles Should be the Redskins Next Head Coach:
There are three main things Les Miles values in football: Good offensive line play, Good sound defense, and good special teams play. Consequently, these are all things the Redskins have been lacking since Mike Shanahan took over.
Offensive Line play:
In college, recruiting is king. Over the last five years, LSU has recruited very well, especially when it comes to recruiting offensive linemen. This is where I see the importance Miles puts on the trenches. The former college linemen has brought in quality high school blue-chip prospects season after season. Here is a quick snap-shot of the last five years.
2013 class: 6th Nationally - 4 offensive line recruits; 3 four-star, 1 three-star
2012 class: 18th Nationally - 5 offensive line recruits; 3 four-star, 1 three-star, 1 two-star
2011 class: 6th Nationally - 4 offensive line recruits; 1 five-star(#2 prospect in the country), 3 four-star, 1 three-star
2010 class: 6th Nationally - 2 offensive linemen; 1 four star, 1 three star
2009 class: 2nd Nationally - 4 offensive linemen; 3 four star, 1 three star
As you can see, Miles values quality linemen(having been one himself), and he uses these stud recruits to pound the football.
Below is how LSU has ranked nationally in rushing over the last four years(as this will best correlate with the above recruiting ratings):
2013 - 35th
2012 - 32nd
2011 - 22nd
2010 - 27th
So, not too shabby. His rushing attack has been in the top quarter of the country on a pretty consistent basis.
There are many ways to measure a good defense, but I have decided to look at two metrics; Total Defense and Scoring Defense:
Below is how LSU ranked nationally in total defense over the last five years(yards per game):
2013 - 20th(349.7)
2012 - 8th(307.6)
2011 - 2nd(261.5)
2010 - 12th(307.2)
2009 - 26th(327.6)
Below is how LSU ranked nationally in scoring defense over the last five years(points per game allowed):
2013 - 30th(22.7)
2012 - 12th(17.5)
2011 - 2nd(11.3)
2010 - 11th(18.2)
2009 - 11th(16.2)
As you can see, Miles' team is consistently ranked near the top in these two very important categories, and these rankings were done in the toughest, most NFL-like conference in the country.
Finally, Miles values special teams play with his LSU Tigers. His team had at least two punts returned for touchdowns from 2009-2012. Sure, the big plays are nice to have, but holding your opponent to minimal yards on returns is equally important.
Below is how LSU ranked nationally for average punt return yards by an opponent over the last five years(an area the Redskins have had some trouble with):
2013 - 1st(0.91)
2012 - 11th(3.47)
2011 - 4th(3.65)
2010 - 11th(4.92)
2009 - 9th(4.00)
As you can imagine, these stats don't begin to paint the entire picture of the type of coach Miles is, but it does help put into perspective some of the areas he views as "high importance" on his football team, and how his squad has done against the best schools in the country.
Miles is not the type of coach who will demand total control of the team. He's smart enough to surround himself with good football people, and will empower these coaches with the ability to effectively implement his philosophies.
Overall, I believe Les Miles has accomplished about as much as he can in the world of college football. Now it's time to tackle the NFL!
Hey Dan Snyder, I hope you read this!