This is the last of our six-part position breakdown of tonight's BCS national championship game, looking at each coaching staff. .
[Wetzel: Split title talk is ridiculous]
These, obviously, are two of the best coaching staffs in the nation. Head coaches Nick Saban of Alabama and Les Miles of LSU go about things differently – hey, would Saban ever chew grass, much less admit it? – but both are recruiting demons and master motivators.
Scoring offense: 36.0 ppg (17th nationally)
Rush offense: 219.8 ypg (14th nationally)
Pass offense: 213.6 ypg (71st nationally)
Total defense: 191.3 ypg (1st nationally)
Scoring defense: 8.8 ppg (1st nationally)
Rush defense: 74.9 ypg (1st nationally)
Pass defense: 116.3 ypg (1st nationally)
Turnover margin: Plus-6
Record vs. bowl teams: 6-1
Scoring offense: 38.5 ppg (12th nationally)
Rush offense: 215.2 ypg (17th nationally)
Pass offense: 160.2 ypg (105th nationally)
Total defense: 252.1 ypg (1st nationally)
Scoring defense: 10.5 ppg (2nd nationally)
Rush defense: 85.5 ypg (3rd nationally)
Pass defense: 166.6 ypg (6th nationally)
Turnover margin: Plus-22
Record vs. bowl teams: 8-0
Note: Stats from NCAA's website
Saban won a national title at LSU in 2003 and at Alabama in 2009, and he is trying to become the first coach to win three BCS titles. (Urban Meyer also has two.) He's a defense-minded coach who, in this age of spread offenses, is a throwback of sorts: He runs a pro-style attack and prefers to bludgeon foes into submission with his rushing attack.
This is the final game for Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who already has been hired as Colorado State's new coach. He has a good feel for when to use play-action passes, and is more free-wheeling than you would think given the Tide's conservative game plans.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart should be a head coach sooner rather than later. Though Saban always credits Smart for the Tide's stifling defense, there is no question Smart suffers from the idea that the defense is Saban's baby.
Running back coach Burton Burns and linebacker coach San Sunseri are among the best position coaches in the nation.
Miles is far looser than Saban – or at least he appears to be. While he frequently is mocked for his off-the-cuff play calls and his mangling of the English language, he is going for his second national title in five seasons; he guided LSU to the national title in 2007.
He is a former offensive lineman for Bo Schembechler at Michigan, and thus it's not surprising that he, like Saban, prefers to win with a strong rushing attack and a stout defense.
His defense is led by John "The Chief" Chavis, who seemingly has been a coordinator in the SEC since the Middle Ages. Chavis was the architect for numerous great Tennessee defenses under Phil Fulmer, but he may have his best unit this season.
[Passan: Les Miles is right at home at LSU]
Offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa has done a nice job under trying circumstances. Studrawa, who doubles as the offensive line coach, was thrust into the role as play-caller in August after Steve Kragthorpe had to give up coordinator duties after begin diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In addition, projected starting QB Jordan Jefferson was suspended for the first four games. It hasn't hampered the offense, and Studrawa has done a nice job calling plays despite a limited passing attack.
Defensive line coach Brick Haley and secondary coach Ron Cooper are top-flight position coaches.
The verdict: Top to bottom, these staffs are even. They are two of the most highly paid staffs in the nation for a reason: They produce wins. Of note: Miles is 3-2 vs. Saban, including the win Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa.
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- Nick Saban