There were fireworks over Lincoln last night. In four years or so we might one day be able to look back and say they were in celebration of the hiring of the newly minted head coach of Nebrasketball (and if the athletic department could re-embrace that nickname, that’d be great). Alas, they were to celebrate the inaugural B1G conference game for Nebraska baseball, a game which was as ugly as something that’s really ugly.
Mr. Miles won the press conference which is a good place to start, it’s not good when you lose the press conference. Doc Sadler won his press conference, Darin Erstad dominated his, even Bo Pelini won the press conference. I don’t remember the press conference for Barry Collier but I’m sure he did as well. It’s really hard to lose one. He was charming, disarming and engaging. There were hearty laughs and a few tears as he recalled the difficulty of having to address his former team. He said all the right things. His first public words as Nebraska head coach were "Thrilled to be the basketball coach at Nebraska".
He said "When Dr. Tom Osborne bets on you, you want to come through for him."
Not sure Osborne will dig the gambling reference, but otherwise, that sounds right, TO’s kind of a big deal around here, disappointing him is never recommended. What is recommended is recruiting. Miles agreed, "Recruiting is a great idea. I’ve always found that it helps".
He also doesn’t lack for confidence saying, "I promise you this, Husker fans, you give us a chance, we’re gonna come through for you. We’ve exceeded expectations everywhere we’ve been, I expect to do the same. I know what we’re dealing with, the elite basketball conference in the country right now, the Big Ten. It’s gonna be a blast."
It certainly can be. If he figures out how to win here, it certainly will be.
Miles also acknowledges his shortcomings. Unlike most coaches, he’s self-made. He didn’t work under any legends. He doesn’t come from a coaching tree. He said "losing has been my mentor. I’ve been beat up plenty. I didn’t take this job to build my career record. I took it because I can do it right."
He got his first head job at Mayville State, an NAIA school, in 1995 at age 28 after being an assistant at Division 2 Northern State, the head coach was Bob Olson. That’s it. He credits his athletic directors for having more of an impact on his career track than any other coach he’s worked with or under. That’s not common. That’s not to say he doesn’t have relationships, he just didn’t work for any of them.
He’s aware of the challenges before him, the lack of tradition, the lack of a talent pool to draw from, the strength of the league and the competition he’ll face, but he’s not deterred by any of it. "I think it’s a great job. I think it’s a great opportunity" he said.
"We wanna play winning basketball. If that means we have to run it down the floor, we’re gonna run it down the floor. If we have to run the shot clock down to 2, we’re gonna run it down to 2. I’m a motion offense and man to man guy, that’s not gonna change."
"I believe it’s a phenomenal opportunity and I believe you don’t get very many of them when you don’t have any pedigree. You can never predict when to go or when to stay.
"I love to build programs, I believe it’s important to leave a program in better shape than when you got there.
"I wanna win an NCAA tournament game. That’s my goal. Let’s do it, right? That’s my goal. And we can do it here. And we will, it’s just a matter of time."
It remains to be seen if he can recruit the talent he needs to win an NCAA tournament game for Nebraska, but if his introduction is any indication, he’ll give it everything he’s got, but press conferences don’t win basketball games, just a few smiles and good feelings. He’s got a legendary personality, if he does pull the trick, he’ll be a legend.