Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'll Wait and See about New Husker Basketball Coach Tim Miles

I admit that I had Tim Miles on my second tier of candidates to replace Doc Sadler at Nebraska.  UCLA's Ben Howland was that grand-slam, how the hell did you pull THAT off candidate. It was a crazy idea, but I'll credit Tom Osborne and Marc Boehm for at least opening the conversation.  Likewise with Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart, though we really don't know if Nebraska even made that call.  The other two candidates I had on my top tier were Wichita State's Gregg Marshall and Ohio's John Groce. Osborne made it clear today that no matter what kind of definition of "job offer" you use, Marshall did not receive any sort of offer. Did Lee Barfknecht get his story wrong?  I'm guessing not really.  Marshall agreed to a new contract with the Shockers today, even though Nebraska appeared to be the only other school that was talking to Marshall.  OK, so maybe Osborne (or his representatives) didn't make anything all that close to a job offer.  But I suspect that at some point in their phone conversation, a $2 million salary was brought up...and Marshall declined to pursue the job

John Groce led my "most likely" list when the search began, but Ohio's run to the Sweet 16 may have scuttled that.  I had heard that Groce was not interested in the Nebraska job, but I thought he might be someone who could be "money-whipped" into taking it.  But when Ohio took North Carolina to overtime, I finally accepted that Groce would never have accepted the Nebraska job.  With the core of this season's team returning next season, Groce will be in high demand after next season.

Should Nebraska have hired an up-and-coming assistant coach? Interesting idea, but other than Scott Spinelli, how many of those would have considered Nebraska?  Typically assistant coaches cut their teeth at a smaller school before taking on a power conference job.  (See John Groce, who left Ohio State to be in charge of Ohio.)

So Miles is the guy. I'm starting to warm up to the guy, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed.  I admit I was unrealistic in hoping for Groce to become a Husker.  So it does seem that Nebraska "settled" for Miles.  I get all of the glowing reports from Colorado and Mountain West reporters. But, to paraphrase Dan Hawkins.... "This is the Big Ten!"  Miles worked his way up from NAIA to division II to the Mountain West, but he's never worked at a major college program as an assistant.  How does he know what kind of players Nebraska needs?  How does he convince these types of players to sign with Nebraska.

I've long felt that Doc Sadler's biggest problem was in getting players who could play at the Big XII or Big Ten level. Barry Collier had a similar problem.  So going to yet-another mid-major coach would seem to be repeating the same insanity and hoping for a different result.  Miles addressed that today by suggesting that he needs assistants that are familiar with the Big Ten.  That's a positive sign.

Colorado State assistant coach Ronald "Chin" Coleman would look to be a good candidate to follow Miles to Lincoln.  Prior to joining the Rams, he was an AAU coach in Chicago for 6 years and coached four McDonalds all-Americans.  Those are connections that Nebraska hasn't had before.  Add in another assistant coach with a solid background recruiting at a power conference school, and this would alleviate my concerns. If Miles merely ends up bringing his entire CSU staff to Lincoln, I'll be sounding the alarm.

A lot of people point out that Miles has a losing record in his five years with Colorado State. Bill Doleman of the Mtn was interviewed today on KOZN-1620 AM, and put that into perspective.  The Rams lost twenty games each of the first two seasons.  Was that Miles' fault?  Take this nugget:
Really hasn't had much chance. First CSU team only had 3 schol players when camp started, Had to get APR out of 700s.
Miles had to hold open tryouts to fill out the roster, and were also hit with scholarship reductions due to the academic problems of the team.  Even so, he's gradually pulled the Rams out of the ditch and got them into the NCAA tournament with an RPI around 29 this past season.  I can't hold Miles responsible for the mess he inherited, but I can give the guy credit for rebuilding the team.

Is Tim Miles the right guy for the Nebraska job?  We won't know for a few years.  I do know he wanted the job, and he probably was the best candidate of the guys who were interested.  Should Nebraska have tried harder to convince one of those other guys to consider the job?  Sounds nice in theory, but you can't make people take a job they don't want.  The best you can hope for is that they'll reconsider.  And in this case, none of the "top tier" candidates seemed to be ready to do that.

So the job goes to Tim Miles.  We'll see where it goes from here.  The good thing about making the hire today is that Miles can go to the Final Four to fill out his staff.  When we have that, I'll have a better opinion of Miles and his potential at Nebraska.

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