Mark Richt and Les Miles entered this past Saturday knowing full well they might be coaching their final game at their respective programs. Both coaches won, but only one kept his job.
Richt, 55, is out at Georgia, while Miles will be back for at LSU at least one more year.
We’ll get to Miles in a minute. Was firing Richt, who went 145-51 in 15 seasons, the right move?
“Wow,” SEC Network writer Booger McFarland said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think it was the right decision based on this: When you’re at programs in the SEC – LSU, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Auburn and, to a certain extent, Tennessee – it’s national championship or bust every year. That’s the given every year. There are certain programs where 8-4 will do it. You can go 8-4 every year and you can have your job for the next 20 years. Those programs I mentioned, you can’t do that. Mark Richt has had 15 years. He’s had 15 years to win a national championship with a ton of talent, and he hasn’t done it. So you can talk about him being a nice guy – and Mark is a great Christian man. I love every ounce of Mark Richt, but the bottom line is, he’s just like Tyrone Willingham in this sense: Tyrone Willingham, when he was at Notre Dame, he did everything right Sunday through Friday. He just failed on Saturday. And I think Mark Richt, to a certain extent, did everything right Sunday through Friday. He just didn’t win the right games on Saturday, and unfortunately, it cost him his job.”
Miles, meanwhile, led LSU to a 7-0 start and a No. 2 ranking in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings. The Tigers, however, went 1-3 in November, averaging just 16.5 points per game in the process.
McFarland said he “absolutely” thought Miles would be out at LSU, but it didn’t happen.
“The powers that be reached out to Jimbo (Fisher) or whoever they had on their list, and that person or persons didn’t give them the right feeling that they were all-in,” McFarland speculated. “Now LSU’s brass is forced to make a decision based on hey, ‘We don’t have our guy 100 percent, so do we fire Les Miles (without a high-profile backup in place)?’ I think they chose the lesser of two evils. The reason I say it that way is everybody was praising Les Miles . . . and (saying they were) happy Les was back, but the elephant that was in the room before the game is still there. That’s the fact that Les Miles’ offense has become old and antiquated. The quarterback development is not there and his ability to change with the 21st century and the 2015 SEC offenses is not there.
“I don’t know the exact details (of how it went down),” McFarland reiterated, “but I think the persons they wanted, they didn’t get – because you don’t have that kind of smoke come out of Baton Rouge without there being a fire. So in my opinion, Les Miles went into that game (against Texas A&M) and he was fired, and something happened during the game that led (LSU) to believe that our guy that we targeted is not 100 percent in. So they kept Les Miles.”