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Monday, April 15, 2013
Where's the respect for LSU's Les Miles?

By Chris Low

You could ask 20 different people to rank the best coaches in the SEC 1 through 14, and you might get 20 different lists.

It's hard to imagine that anyone wouldn't have Alabama's Nick Saban in the top spot. When you win three out of the last four national championships, you're doing a lot of things right. Even those fans who detest Alabama would have a hard time not putting Saban No. 1.

After that, it's a crap shoot, and the other thing to remember is that a coach ranked near the top right now could plummet two or three years from now. It changes in a hurry in this league.

Athlon Sports has ranked all 125 FBS head coaches, and Saban not surprisingly was No. 1. Ohio State's Urban Meyer was No. 2 and Kansas State's Bill Snyder No. 3.

There were five SEC head coaches in the top 20, which again isn't surprising.

What is surprising is that LSU's Les Miles wasn't one of them.

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier was the second SEC coach on the list at No. 5 overall. Georgia's Mark Richt was No. 11, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin No. 16 and Vanderbilt's James Franklin No. 17.

And where's Miles?

Try No. 24 nationally ... and seventh in the SEC.

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen was ranked just ahead of Miles at No. 23, and new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was right behind Miles at No. 25.

Nobody's arguing that Miles isn't quirky and downright strange at times. There have been some well-documented clock management issues on his watch and the giant egg the Tigers laid offensively in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.

But doesn't winning 11 or more games in five of your eight seasons in the toughest conference in the country count for something? One of the supposed knocks on Miles is that he has great talent. That's always been one of my favorites.

In the realm of college football, nothing is more important than acquiring talent and developing that talent.

Wimp Sanderson, the former Alabama basketball coach, used to always have a classic comeback any time somebody would try and temper his success with the argument that he always had great players.

"You oughta get you some because they sure make coaching a lot easier," Sanderson would say.

Some critics dismiss Miles' success by saying anyone could win big at a place like LSU with its resources, tradition and fertile recruiting grounds. Without a doubt, LSU is one of the top coaching jobs in all of college football. I'd also point out, however, that from 1989-99, the Tigers had just three winning seasons. Miles, by contrast, has won 10 or more in six of his eight seasons.

I wouldn't necessarily have Miles in my top 3 coaches in the SEC, but he'd certainly be in my top 5.

Here's a look at how Athlon Sports ranked the SEC head coaches:

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
3. Mark Richt, Georgia
4. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
5. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
6. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
7. Les Miles, LSU
8. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
9. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
10. Will Muschamp, Florida
11. Butch Jones, Tennessee
12. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
13. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
14. Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Who's too high, and who's too low? Let us know, and we'll re-visit this topic later in the week.