Some Criticism of the Critics
The Omaha World-Herald published some comments this week from former Husker basketball players Andy Markowski and Beau Reid that were hardly enthusiastic about the Tim Miles hire. As former players during some of Nebraska's better years, they certainly have the right to an opinion. They also understand college basketball and NU basketball better than most. Still, their arguments don't necessarily make the strongest case why Miles shouldn't have been hired.
Criticism #1: On paper, he looks like Barry Collier and Doc Sadler did when they were hired.
That's true. But on paper, so did Mike Krzyzewski. In fact, Coach K probably looked worse. Nebraska was in no position to hire Billy Donovan away from Florida. What you want is the next Coach K. or Donovan and both of those guys came from smaller programs without much postseason success to speak of.
Criticism #2: We hired a program-builder not a program changer.
What exactly has Nebraska built to date? Sure, if this were the waning days of the Danny Nee era, you could be positioning the team to take the next step. But it's been 12 years since Nee left. This isn't a program looking to hire Phil Jackson to finish a job that Doug Collins started. This is more like Kansas State hiring Bill Snyder back in 1989. Someone who can take a program without much history or any kind of resources advantage and make them competitive. Someday, I'd love to be in the position to complain that our coach can't get us past the Sweet 16. For now, I'll take someone that can get us an 11-seed.
Criticism #3: We needed to hire somebody that got everybody to stand up and take notice.
Well, the Huskers could have cast their lot with Bobby Knight, Nolan Richardson, or some other big name that upon closer scrutiny doesn't make much sense. But what does that buy you? Bill Callahan was two years removed from a Super Bowl. How did that work out? Was Tom Osborne the biggest name available when Bob Devaney retired? Isn't the right guy a lot more important than the famous one? You could go back to the Coach K. example or any number of other unknowns who panned out in a big way. If anything, the big name should set off red flags more than a guy who's just managed to quietly climb the ranks by improving his teams year after year.
The arguments against Miles don't guarantee failure, just as the arguments for him don't guarantee success. But there was no "can't-miss" hire available. Nebraska had to make a good bet, and a consistent winner in a number of environments that's found gems in the Midlands before seems as good as any.