An interesting pair of articles from Paul Finebaumm and Tony Barnhart framing up the situations at LSU and Georgia.
If your time is limited, just read Barnhart. I spend a lot of time pointing out the unvarnished horror that is most sports journalism and that doesn't apply to Barnhart, who is a knowledgeable and informed guy with some understanding of the big picture, usually lacking in the average hack. Finebaum, less so. He's sort of a grits-eating Peter Vecsey with a severe forehead shine.
In any event, Les Miles and Mark Richt are both on the hot seat. Well, not hot. But warm, like the remnant heat from a slave boy's buttocks used to toast up the Senatorial shitters in ancient Ephesus.
Barnhart nails the fact that Richt and Miles are in different situations though.
First, Miles. From Barnhart's column:
Les Miles took over a program that Nick Saban built and won a national championship in his third season (2007), when the players in Saban’s last class were seniors. In the past two seasons LSU is 8-8 in the SEC and fans on the Bayou wonder if Miles can win a title with his own players.
That cuts to the heart of the matter. Miles won a weak tit national title with Saban's players with a two loss team. It's not so much that Miles can't win a title with his own players - the question is whether he can win a title with his own coaching.
When it comes to Miles, there is this nagging sense that he and his staff are not maximizing the talent on this team. Actually, it’s more than a nagging sense.
My general impression of LSU the last two years is a bunch of really good athletes running around in almost random fashion. If Boise State is gym rat football, LSU represents pick-up game football. Who got next?
Miles also gave us the Les Miles Quote Generator. Play with it for five minutes. Then post your favorite. I'm currently liking: "The one thing about football is that if they didn't play games, no one would want to play it."
As for Richt, the always excellent Spencer Hall from EDSBS, has the correct characterization: Richt's case with Georgia fans seems one part media boredom, one part ten year itch in terms of their successful but bland marriage. He's right. Georgia fans are a little tired of the missionary position. A revamped Kama Sutra playbook would do wonders.
As Barnhart points out, Richt's resume has a fine distinction from The Hat:
Richt took over at Georgia in 2001 and won a conference championship in 2002 with a team made up mostly of players he inherited from Jim Donnan (who still doesn’t get enough credit for what he did at Georgia to rebuild the talent base). But then he won another championship with his own players in 2005, and was as good as anybody in the country in 2007.
Richt's underachievement the last two years has been horrendous, but he has been 50-22 in SEC conference play over nine years. Crucially, Richt is also viewed as a stand-up guy who has built a lot of goodwill in the Bulldog fan base and administration. Would he survive 7-5? Yeah. It's not Auburn where one rich alum runs the entire program according to daily whim.
Bringing it back to Texas. Would Muschamp take either job? Forget the Jon Gruden babble. Former NFL coaches have a pretty miserable record of wooing high school kids and making nice with alums. Muschamp would be on the short list. So what might factor into his decision-making?
1. When. Have Brown and Muschamp set a timeline? Ignore their media quotes on this matter. No one knows for certain, except the few people that do, and if they told me, I couldn't tell you. If no, and Brown is still here in 2012, and Jaw-ja opened up, we'd have a real pucker moment.
2. Family. People assume this decision is purely about football opportunity, succession timelines, and other practical matters, but it's also about his life. Muschamp has kids, the family loves Austin, and he has a wife who is a bit of a free-spirited cool chick. She likes Austin. Baton Rouge, not so much. I'd reckon that Athens has enough cool alterno-vibe, family proximity, and sentimental attachment to be acceptable.
3. Bird in hand, two in the bush. Texas is a better job than either LSU or Georgia, but both LSU and Georgia are Top 10 college football jobs. That'll do if your goal is to become a legend and win national championships. The difference between the 8th best situation in the country and 1st or 2nd is essentially irrelevant if you want the future now.
4. Personal timeline. Does he still feel he has things to learn? Does he think he's ready? Probably yes to both. And the SEC jobs are both more forgiving than our pious, nitpicking fan base.
5. Autonomy. If he stayed at Texas and Mack was his AD or just program PR guy emeritus, does he feel that he could shape his own staff the way he pleases? Would he be allowed to keep the good, optimize the deficient? Would he be allowed to be himself after following the most effective public relations head coach in college football?
6. Money. He makes about a million per here as coach-in-waiting. He'd makes four times that a head coach in the SEC. Personally, I'd be pleased with the current cash flow and money wouldn't be a factor, but I'm not him. For some, it's a way of keeping score or measuring worth.
Bottom line: if Georgia and LSU both opened, I'd be more concerned about Georgia.