It sounds like Bill Moos has made up his mind.
Friday evening, just 45 minutes after Nebraska wrapped up its trip to the B1G Tournament following a 66-62 loss to Wisconsin, athletic director Bill Moos issued a statement regarding the future of head coach Tim Miles. In reality, all the AD did was make an announcement about an upcoming announcement.
“We will await Sunday’s announcement to see if we receive an invitation to participate in the NIT,” Moos wrote in a statement. “Once our season is completed, my evaluation of our men’s basketball program will draw to a close.”
On paper, it seems like Moos will evaluate the situation once the basketball season officially ends. Reading between the lines, Moos is saying he doesn’t want to cause any distractions or disruptions for the players or staff, should the Huskers earn a bid to the NIT.
In other words, Miles’ tenure in Lincoln is just about over. And it even seems like the head coach himself knows the clock is ticking.
“I’ve accepted the fact I’ve ran my race,” Miles said after the game.
Moos has made his decision and Miles understands his fate. And, honestly, it’s a damn shame that this is the way it’s going to end, especially considering all that Nebraska did over the last three days in the B1G Tournament.
The Huskers made the trip to Chicago with six scholarship players and using a seven-man rotation. They were outmanned and outmatched in all three games, including the Round 1 bout against Rutgers. Somehow, Nebraska found a way. For three days, they kept fighting and fighting and fighting.
Nebraska found ways to beat Rutgers and Maryland and nearly continued its Cinderella run against Wisconsin on Friday. But exhaustion set in and the Huskers didn’t have enough in the tank to become the first 13 seed in B1G Tournament history to reach the semifinal round.
Moos attended Nebraska’s first game on Wednesday, but where was he after that? While Miles was coaching for his job and players were fighting like hell to keep their season alive? He was in Berkeley, California, preparing to watch his son’s spring game at Cal.
That spring game, by the way, wasn’t until Saturday.
Regardless of what the relationship is between Moos and Miles, the last week has been pretty unfair for Miles. Moos has shown no interest in the basketball program or giving his head coach an honest chance to prove himself. But if Moos wants to do what’s best for the “Nebrasketball” brand, he might want to reconsider letting Miles go.
Nebraska fans might want that too, even if the last seven years have been frustrating.
Say what you will about Miles’ run in Lincoln, but it’s not all that different from the rest of Nebraska’s basketball history. The Huskers have tallied three winning seasons, reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and played in the NIT last season. They’ll likely earn a spot in this year’s NIT, as well.
Miles’ predecessors didn’t really do much better.
There were three postseason appearances under Doc Sadler, all of which were in the NIT. Barry Collier also guided the Huskers to two NIT appearances, with no NCAA Tournament trips. Since Nebraska started playing basketball in 1896, only Danny Nee has taken the Huskers to the NCAA Tournament multiple times.
Nebraska isn’t a basketball powerhouse. It never has been and it never will be. The soil in the Cornhusker State isn’t sprouting many four- and five-star prospects these days. Basically, when it comes to basketball at Nebraska, you do the best with what you’ve got.
Whether you want to believe it or not, Miles has done pretty well in Lincoln. A 115-113 record isn’t exactly Hall of Fame worthy, but he’s developed a competitive program in the B1G, arguably the best conference in college basketball. That’s not easy.
Miles has done it the right way, too. In a world that has run rampant with scandals that have led to suspensions, ineligibility and NCAA sanctions, Nebraska has come out clean. Considering the pressure to win — and win big — in today’s sports society, that can’t be ignored.
And then there’s this interesting little bit, and this is where Huskers fans might want to petition to keep Miles around for a little longer. Moos has a strong loyalty to longtime basketball coach Ernie Kent. Moos hired Kent to be the head coach at Oregon before the 1997-98 season. After a decent run with the Ducks, Moos then hired Kent to take over the program at Washington State.
Kent has a lifetime coaching record of 383-351 and was fired by WSU after a 58-98 record in five seasons in Pullman. Obviously there’s no guarantee that Moos would bring old ties to Lincoln, but with Kent back on the open market — and an unusual loyalty — it’s entirely possible the 64-year-old gets a chance at Nebraska.
But back to Miles. Back to the guy who lit a fire under his team for the last three days, getting every ounce of effort out of every player until they couldn’t give any more. Back to the guy who drew up the defensive game-plans that shut down All-B1G selections Bruno Fernando and Ethan Happ in back-to-back games, combining for a total of seven points. Back to the guy who turned everyone in Chicago into a Husker fan for the last three days.
That guy deserves the opportunity to continue to coach at Nebraska. At the very least, he deserves to be seriously evaluated with a chance to retain his job.
Miles proved himself this week in Chicago. It’s too bad the athletic director didn’t have enough respect for him to even show up.