2015 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year
Trent Miles is a program builder.
And after the remarkable job he did in guiding the Panthers to their first-ever bowl game in 2015, the Georgia State head coach is the reigning Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.
Miles was introduced as Georgia State’s second head football coach on Dec. 3, 2012 and charged with the task of building the fledgling program as it jumped to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Sun Belt Conference after only three seasons of play. And just three years later, he had the Panthers playing in a bowl game in their sixth season of existence.
The former assistant coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington demonstrated the ability to build a winning program in five seasons as the head coach at Indiana State. The rebuilding job he did there earned notice, and he was hired to build the Georgia State program following the retirement of Bill Curry, the Panthers’ head coach from the program’s inception in 2008 through 2012.
Miles and his staff immediately began to lay the foundation to enable the Panthers to compete at the highest level of college football, building the program through recruiting, player development and the establishment of a winning culture, all within the framework of a strong family atmosphere.
He is fond of saying, “We look for young men of great character who are smart, tough and love the game.”
After taking baby steps in his first two seasons, Miles’ Panthers began to run midway through Year 3, winning their last four regular-season games to earn their berth in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.
Along the way, Georgia State featured one of the nation’s top passing attacks, led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle, the Sun Belt Student-Athlete of the Year, and a bevy of talented receivers, including Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American Penny Hart.
The prolific offense, which led the league in passing, was complemented by a defense that was, statistically, the most improved unit in the FBS. Both offense and defense were on display as the Panthers put an exclamation point on the regular season with a record-setting, 34-7 victory at in-state rival Georgia Southern.
A total of 12 Panthers earned All-Sun Belt recognition in 2015, giving GSU 22 all-conference players in Miles' three years. And Miles was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year—the second league in which he has been honored—and he was also recognized with a national award by the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation.
Miles’ first Georgia State team in 2013 showed progress throughout the season, despite playing at the FBS level for the first time with an undermanned roster.
Under Miles’ tutelage, wide receiver and return specialist Albert Wilson earned all-conference and All-America recognition with a record-setting campaign in 2013. Following the season, Wilson became the first Georgia State player to earn an invitation to the prestigious National Football League Scouting Combine and then signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Miles also helped develop Ulrick John into an NFL prospect as the offensive tackle was drafted in the seventh round by the Indianapolis Colts, becoming the second draft pick in Georgia State’s history.
The building process continued in Miles’ second year in 2014, which opened with a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Abilene Christian. Despite a depleted roster, Georgia State featured one of the top passing offenses in the Sun Belt and the nation, and seven Panthers earned all-conference honors.
In his first three seasons, Miles’ program has produced one All-American, one Freshman All-American, 22 all-conference performers and two NFL players.
Miles’ emphasis on the total development of his student-athletes is also in evidence with his team’s strong academic performance. The Panthers enjoyed their best semester in the classroom in the spring of 2015 with a 2.91 grade-point average, including 52 student-athletes with a 3.0 or higher, and the team has continued to maintain a GPA of 2.8 or better since then.
In 2013, Georgia State earned the Sun Belt Conference’s team academic award as the football program with highest grade point average in the league.
Miles’ first head-coaching job was at his alma mater, Indiana State, where he took over a struggling program that had won just one game in the three seasons before his arrival in 2008. But it took just three years for him to produce a winning season, the first of three straight winning campaigns in Terre Haute.
After leading his 2010 Sycamores to a 6-5 mark for the school’s first winning record since 1996, Miles was recognized as Missouri Valley Football Conference Coach of the Year. He was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year honor.
Miles guided ISU to another winning season in 2011 and then a 7-4 record in 2012. No Sycamore team had won more games since the 1984 squad on which Miles played, and the school’s run of three straight winning seasons under Miles was its longest since ISU had six straight from 1964-69.
Following the 2012 season, Miles was honored as the American Football Coaches Association Region Four Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
Throughout his career, Miles has coached on both sides of the ball and possesses more than 25 years of college coaching experience as well as one year as a National Football League assistant with the Green Bay Packers. As an offensive assistant for the Packers in 2000, Miles worked with wide receivers and quality control. He coached NFL All-Pro receiver Antonio Freeman.
Miles spent the next seven years as an assistant coach under Tyrone Willingham at Stanford (wide receivers, 2001), Notre Dame (wide receivers, 2002-04) and Washington (running backs, 2005-07), where he recruited, coached and developed many talented skill players.
Among his pupils were Stanford’s Teyo Johnson, a second-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2003, Notre Dame’s Maurice Stovall and Arnaz Battle, both of whom went on to the NFL, Jeff Samardzija, an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame who is now a Major League Baseball pitcher, and Louis Rankin, a 1,000-yard rusher at Washington.
Miles began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Indiana State (1987), New Mexico (1988-89) and Oklahoma (1990). While at New Mexico, one of his mentors was Marvin Lewis, now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miles moved to an assistant coaching position at Northern Illinois for four seasons, working with receivers (1991-93) and then defensive backs (1994). Miles then headed west for a two-year stint at Hawai’i, where he coached wide receivers (1995) and defensive backs (1996).
As wide receivers coach at Fresno State from 1997-99, Miles helped the Bulldogs to a share of the 1999 Mountain West Conference title and a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl. He also recruited and coached future NFL standout Bernard Berrian.
Miles, 52, is a native of Terre Haute, Ind., and a 1987 graduate of Indiana State with a degree in criminology. He was a wide receiver for the Sycamores from 1982-86, playing on the 1983 and 1984 squads that each won nine games and reached the FCS playoffs. The 1984 Sycamores were ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the season, and that team was inducted into the Indiana State University Hall of Fame in 2002.
He is married to the former Bridget Hogan, and the couple has three daughters, Kaylee, Anna, and Charlie Elizabeth, and one son, Noah.