This will be a lengthy post. Don't read it if you are troubled by exposition.
I am going to respond to GTTM because I regard him as a fairly sober, rational human. One who who is capable of carrying on a topical, measured dialogue. I do this knowing full well that my response will subject me to the inane flailings of deluded zealots here. So be it.
I like Miles but would replace him instantaneously if anyone here could guarantee a replacement that would do better.
The notion of a "guaranteed" improvement is fantastical. No coaching search ever has a "guaranteed" result. If Miles were perennially finishing 8-4, there would be no "guarantee" that his successor would do better. If Miles were perennially recording a 6-6 mark, there would be no "guarantee" that his successor would improve that mark. Indeed, history demonstrates this axiom. Archer was abysmal, and yet there was still no "guarantee" his successor would be better. Hallman was, in fact, worse.
(And of course, it's also true that one often doesn't know precisely which coaches are available for hire until the search commences. To wit, no one knew Saban was interested in the LSU job when DiNardo was fired in 1999. This uncertainty as to available candidates makes it yet more difficult to "guarantee" any particular hire or to exclude any particular hire from consideration a priori.)
If coaching replacements were premised on "guarantees," they would quite literally never occur.
Rather, the proper metric is risk-reward. Do you believe that prospects of improving the program through a new hire outweigh the risk that the new hire will perform at levels below that of his predecessor? Restated, what is the probability that the new hire will improve the program and what is the magnitude and value of that improvement? This analysis is fairly straightforward and easy to apply in cases where a team is 3-8. It becomes much more difficult to apply in instances where a program is consistently successful, yet has not fulfilled the zenith of its potential.
Applying the algorithm to Miles and LSU, it is worth noting again precisely what you conceded in your original post: that Alabama is a better program than LSU right now. Moreover, sane people will agree that Saban is a better coach than Miles. (The modfier "sane" is quite intentional - I know there are marginal ideologues who will still claim that Miles is "better" even if Saban hoists his third NC trophy in four years.) I've recited the litany of evidence before, but I'll do it again for the sake of thoroughness: NC's: Saban 3 Miles 1; SECCG's: Saban 3 Miles 2; Overall Undefeated Seasons: Saban 1 Miles 0; Undefeated Regular Seasons: Saban 2 Miles 1; Head to Head: Saban 4 Miles 3 (4-2 in last six excluding Saban's first year at Bama when he had none of his recruits; 2-0 in the last two games); Recruiting: Alabama's consensus class rating has exceeded LSU's in each year of Saban's Alabama tenure.
All objective indicia favor Saban and Alabama.
So, the proper formulation of the question is as follows: Given that LSU is the second best program in the SEC West, given that Saban is a better coach than Miles, and given that this state of affairs appears unlikely to change in the near future, is it worth the risk of hiring a new coach in order to give LSU the potential opportunity to surpass Alabama, become the preeminent program in the SEC, and become an NC dynasty?
Put another way: with Miles as the head coach at LSU, evidence suggests that LSU will remain second best to Alabama, albeit by a fairly narrow margin. Hiring a new coach would offer the possibility that LSU could surpass Alabama, though it also entails the risk that LSU could decline, perhaps significantly.
If you don't believe that hiring a new coach is worth the risk, I think you have to (a) resign yourself to being happy with second best in the SEC West for the foreseeable future; (b) await the day that Miles improves and is able to supercede Saban and Alabama - dare I say that this position requires "rampant speculation and hope"; or (c) pray that Saban leaves Alabama.
Hypothetically, if LSU were a privately held concern and I owned one hundred percent of the voting stock, I would gamble. It's my personal view that the modern LSU has the fiscal resources, facilities, professionalism, and recruiting base to become a national championship dynasty. I believe there are a range of coaches who could succeed here on a national stage.
However, I also recognize that, realistically, the LSU AD isn't going to voluntarily fire Miles so long as he is winning games. Consequently, the immediate future of the program will likely be as follows: LSU will retain Miles, Miles will continue to have good or even very good W-L records, Saban will remain a better coach than Miles overall, Alabama will remain a better program than LSU in the aggregate, LSU will be denied a dynasty while Alabama collects its crystal trophies.
That's not intended to be incendiary propoganda and shouldn't be recieved as such. It's just what has happened of late: LSU has had good seasons, Alabama has established a national championship dynasty.
This pattern will continue until either Miles or Saban departs, at which point the quality of the new hire will dictate the dynamics of the rivalry.
In the meantime - because ultimately it is the only option at my disposal - I'll continue to make my ragged sojourn to Tiger Stadium and various college towns throughout the south, I'll pour money into the program and bourbon down my gullet, I'll cheer as loudly as I can at games, and I'll hope against hope that the hand of genius belatedly annoints Miles and that he reverses the current hierarchy at the top of the SEC West.
I really have nothing else to say on this topic. On to the bowl and recruiting.
This post was edited on 11/29 at 2:03 pm