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By Randy York
In the avalanche of college football spring practices, the NFL draft and Nebraska baseball, perhaps you’ve lost track of college basketball, but the national media hasn’t. First-year Nebraska head basketball coach Tim Miles, in fact, is getting rave reviews from the nation’s top two sports media companies, and that has to help the Huskers’ hunt for Big Red October and the talent required to compete in the Big Ten Conference and justify the off-season speculation.
When I linked to Sports Illustrated’s website Monday and saw Miles’ smiling face looking right back at me with a Nebraska nameplate in front of him and a ceramic basketball imported from China behind him, I sensed Nebraska getting some genuine respect, especially when the headline hovering over Miles says “Movers and Shakers” and the caption below him says: “The Nebraska Cornhuskers made a big offseason splash in hiring former Colorado State Coach Tim Miles.” SI Columnist Andy Glockner didn’t stop there either. “Nebraska isn’t a basketball power, and despite new facilities, it has a long way to go to establish credibility in the very deep Big Ten,” Glockner wrote. “As such, the Huskers may have made the hire of the season in landing former Colorado State coach Tim Miles, a noted turnaround specialist known for tweeting at halftime of his team’s games.”
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf was equally effusive in his Top Ten Best Coaching Hires in the College Basketball Nation Blog, published on May 3. Medcalf ranked Miles as the No. 4 hire of 2012, ahead of such notables as Danny Manning, Larry Eustachy and Larry Brown. “Miles needs his own energy drink. He’s full of vigor. And he’s going to need it to make Nebraska relevant in Big Ten basketball,” Medcalf wrote before adding: “Miles’ mojo made him an attractive candidate for multiple jobs after he led Colorado State to a 20-win season last season and North Dakota State to the NCAA tournament before that. The Rams won seven games in his first season and NDSU had to transition to Division I. The Cornhuskers have a new practice facility and a new arena (under construction) that will become the team’s home in 2013. Drawing kids to Lincoln won’t be easy. But the facilities and Miles’ personality will definitely help.”
If you don’t think Miles is attracting attention throughout the country, you should have joined my Tuesday afternoon telephone conversation with Darin Boysen, the president of the Nebraska Coaches Association. Having already secured Bobby Knight as a headline speaker for his organization’s July coaching clinics, Boysen was talking to Alabama softball coach Pat Murphy, who also will speak at the NCA’s summer clinics. Murphy, whose ‘Bama team is ranked third nationally this week, told Boysen that he watched Miles’ entire press conference on Huskers.com last month. “One of Pat’s hobbies is watching first press conferences for new Division I coaches,” Boysen said, explaining how Murphy put Miles at the top of his list this year, based on one intuitively sound reason. “What struck Pat most was how excited Tim was to be coaching at Nebraska,” Boysen said. “He told me how impressed he was with Coach Miles’ overall demeanor and how he genuinely enjoyed listening to him describe what he wants to get done. Pat called him a perfect fit because he wasn’t looking at Nebraska as just a pit stop. He could tell he wants to be here forever.”
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