Paving the Road to Nebrasketball Exellence

By at March 27, 2012 | 5:47 AM | Print

Paving the Road to Nebrasketball Exellence

Congratulations, Nebraska. You have a brand new men’s basketball coach. Those who’ve been around Tim Miles praise him for his personality and coaching ability.

Fans, local media, and even some of the national guys didn’t know his name until he was hired. Can he turn around this quagmire of a program?

First, let’s address the hiring process. The name on just about everyone’s lips immediately after the Shaka Smart pipe dream was Ohio’s John Groce. He’s expected to be hired by Illinois any time now to replace Bruce Weber.

Groce’s Bobcats kept winning in this year’s playoff until Miles was hired, then North Carolina knocked Ohio out of the tournament.

For anyone suggesting that Nebraska didn’t reach out to Groce’s agent, a poker buddy, his fifth grade teacher, somebody to make contact with him to gauge interest: I’m going to make an educated guess that it happened.

If you don’t believe me, take CBS Sports’ national columnist Gregg Doyel’s word for it. I didn’t have time to scan and e-mail him a script.

On to why Groce would pick Illinois over Nebraska: People know his name, especially due to Ohio’s recent success, which means his bank account has the potential to grow substantially.

The Big Ten recruiting connections are there, and I’m going to guess a few of those are in, you guessed it, Illinois. Finally, the Illini have been there before.

By “there,” we’re talking the NCAA tournament, and unlike Nebraska, they’ve won. Not just once, either. Illinois has gone to the Big Dance 29 times, and usually did pretty well for themselves.

In 11 of those tournaments, they made the Sweet Sixteen, and nine times they made their way to the Final Four. In 2005, they took on North Carolina for the title. They lost, but they were there. This is the stuff of Cornhusker fantasy.

Finally, there’s Miles himself. Upon the rumors of his hiring last Friday, if anything was drilled into Nebrasketball fans’ heads, it was that he’s funny. I’ve got On Demand service, I can pull up comedians. Can the man coach?

To make everything official, Miles killed the Saturday press conference, but let’s be real. Who doesn’t kill the first press conference?

You’d have to be looked at as a fourth or fifth choice for the cash cow of an athletic program by a good chunk of the fan base, and have made comments that could be taken in a severely negative light while your predecessor was seen as unnecessarily fired by a widely-despised superior for something like that to happen…

Miles has charm, he gives great sound bites, which makes my job easier, and he appears to have passion. “Give us a chance” came off more as a statement than a plea.

Let’s pause the conversation on Miles for a minute and take a detour to Haymarket Park.

Remember when Darin Erstad was hired and a lot of people were really pissed off? This was before Will Bolt and Ted Silva were brought on after he insisted his own salary be lowered and the overall hiring looked like genius, of course.

Unpause and take into account that Ronald Coleman, who worked with Miles as an assistant at Colorado State, and knows the Chicago recruiting trail like the back of his hand, is now coming to Nebraska.

He’s also a former Chi-town prep and AAU coach. Good money says that was brought up during the interviews.

Miles is also bringing his director of basketball operations Jayden Olsen, and has stated that he’s bringing on three more assistants. Coleman was nearly a lock to follow Miles and Olsen was a likely second.

Knock the final three hires out of the park with well-placed connections to the AAU circuit in Big Ten country. Maybe thank the Big 12 for their hospitality by raiding their traditional stomping grounds. Do that, and Nebraska will have officially Erstaded the basketball program hires.

Tom Osborne’s not going to do anything that he honestly believes will potentially tarnish his legacy. That includes messing up what is considered to be the biggest hire in the program’s history by at least several hundred fans.

There’s the B1G move, baseball’s potential resurgence, and if Nebraska finds its way to the field of 32 or beyond on a consistent basis, who’s going to complain?

Step one’s done. Miles passed the public interview with flying colors. It’s time to see what he can get done away from the podium.

He has bleeding-edge technology, a premiere arena, and the athletic department appears to have his back. More and more fans are doing their research, and taking a shine to Nebraska’s new head man.

I’m more than willing to give Miles a chance, but there’s the matter of his end of the bargain. He makes bank, and his assistants likely will, too.

He stepped up and told Husker Nation that once he gets things feng shuied, it’s the Big Dance or bust.

Miles seems to get that he’s under pressure in Lincoln, and that’s good. He says he wants to come through for Osborne, and he really does.

No, not in a genuinely “I truly believe it” way. We’re talking in a “so much time, energy and resources have been dumped into this project, that the option to fail is off the table” way.

If he succeeds, he makes T.O. look good, and a final blessing before Osborne departs the athletic department is a reusable Get Out of Jail Free card.

Time to find out if Miles can pass Go and grab an initial 200 dollars before he collects his first 1.4 million.

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