An open letter to Nebraska Basketball coach Tim Miles
I was wrong.
When your predecessor, Doc Sadler, was fired I used this platform to lay out my thoughts for who Nebraska’s next coach should be. In that piece, I was strongly against hiring a guy like you: the “no-name” coach from a mid-major program who lacked dynamic recruiting ties.
When you were hired, I was (to say the least) underwhelmed. The coach from Colorado State? Really? Despite my Wyoming buddies telling me that you were the “real deal”, I was all but convinced that Nebraska was falling into the same trap of the mid-major coach who would not be able to recruit and/or compete in one of the nation’s best conferences. I actually started a piece expressing my frustration and lack of enthusiasm for the hire. Thankfully, that one never saw the light of day.
But if you read that link above, you may have noticed that I also wanted a coach like you. Notably, I called for a head coach who is:
- A top recruiter. The jury is still out, but I like that you were in on star forward Terran Petteway out of high school. You couldn’t land him at Colorado State, but were able to get him to Lincoln. The visit from the highly touted “Chicago 5” recruits made some noise, and now it comes down to being able to land that talent.
- “A dynamic personality who can sell the program and inspire the fans“. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but that is you in a Twitter-length nutshell. Your personality, media savvy, quick wit, and use of social media is, frankly, more than I could have ever dreamed. Fans believe in this program for the first time this century. I like to say that you are “undefeated in press conferences”, and I suspect that will be the case for a long, long time.
- Somebody who can coach. The overriding opinion is that you know the x’s and o’s, and several of Nebraska’s wins are directly related to your game planning, adjustments, and ability to lead your team. Your team has a clear identity, the players know and embrace their roles, and it is apparent that your team will go to war for you and for each other.
The transformation of this program in two years is astounding. As I write this, Nebraska is 8-1 at home in Big Ten play, with the lone loss coming by 1 point to the #12 team in the country. Sure, some of the credit for the turn-around must go to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena – the atmosphere is so raucous that the blue hairs are writing letters to the editor to complain about the noise. But we both know that a Doc Sadler or Barry Collier team would not be as beloved in the new arena.
You have given the fans something to cheer about. The talent level is notably improved. Nebraska has their first legitimate NBA-caliber player in years. Defense and floor burns get bigger cheers than breakaway dunks. Heck, you even have players proposing to their girlfriends at half court.
It’s only your second year in Lincoln, and your team has done things that nobody thought was possible at Nebraska: finishing in the top half of the league, dominating your home court, knocking off two top 10 teams, earning a first round bye in the conference tournament, and all but guaranteeing Nebraska’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1998.
I’m impressed by how handle things. You know exactly when to be hilariously funny, aw-shucks humble, brutally honest, and when to take jabs at Billy Bluejay*.
*Sure, there is something to be said for taking jabs at your in-state rival two months AFTER the game (especially when they run you out of the gym), but this is a great time for Miles to establish Nebraska as the dominant program in the state. Seriously.
If Nebraska and Creighton’s basketball programs were stocks, I would be buying Nebraska and selling my portfolio of Creighton. I don’t know if Creighton maintains (or even approaches) their 5 year level of success without Doug McDermott. Big Red is poised to become the dominant program in the state.
Most importantly, you refuse to let the wretched history of this program be a crutch or an excuse. All of the years of finishing 10th or 11th in the conference are irrelevant to you. You have done this before and you are doing it again. And it is a blast to watch.
So allow me to say it again: I was wrong. I did not think you would be a good fit, and you would keep Nebraska mired in the same muck of mediocrity that the die-hard fans have known for years.
Please accept my sincere apology. I am a believer in what you are doing, and will be standing in support of your team as you continue to rewrite the history of Nebrasketball.
I have never been so happy to be this wrong.