Thirty seconds. Well, 29 actually.
I noted on Friday, following Nebraska’s loss to Minnesota, that the Huskers had led for just eight minutes over their past four games. Last night in the regular-season finale, Nebraska only added 29 seconds to that total, scoring the first hoop of the game before Michigan tied and proceeded to deliver the worst home loss in program history.
So, yeah, it was like that.
Up until about halftime last night, I had refused to engage in much Tim Miles’ job talk because I never really thought Miles was in any actual danger. I still don’t totally think he is, but Sunday’s loss was so complete that I basically couldn’t stop thinking about whether he should be. I went from “why are we talking about this?” to “we have to talk about this” over the course of an hour.
Maybe I was behind the curve on that, but judging from the social-media chatter on Sunday it seemed like a lot of others reached a similar point.
The problem for Miles, as I see it, is not one of talent, experience or even execution. This seems to be a team-building issue and if there are cracks in that foundation — if a coach can’t get equal investment and empathy from each member of the squad — it doesn’t really matter how nice the house you build on top of it is, it’s eventually going to topple. That’s how Nebraska basketball has looked for most of the past three seasons — wobbly. Assistants and players come and go with curious frequency. Nebraska guts out some impressive wins and completely collapses, often within the span of a week.
It makes you question what the philosophy behind Nebraska basketball is at the moment. I’m not talking Xs and Os, but why does everyone show up each day?
Because it’s great to coach and play the sport you love at a major college? That’s a perk, not a reason. There has to be something more behind the seemingly straightforward quest to win games if a team or program wants to win them regularly.
It’s a puzzle this Nebraska basketball program hasn’t solved yet. Until it does, it is hard to predict anything more than more of the same.
Interesting comments from Michigan State Tom Izzo following Saturday’s loss to Maryland on the Big Ten’s perception this season:
“I blame all of you guys,” Izzo said. “I’ll blame everyone in this room. We haven’t done a good job promoting the Big Ten.”
Izzo also gave examples of other teams getting the benefit of the doubt in other Power conferences, while noting that the Big Ten isn’t given that same courtesy.
“Virginia loses a game and that’s because everyone is good,” Izzo said.
“[Bill] Walton is out there [in the Pac-12] and champions that conference. Nobody talks about our conference. That’s our fault. That’s your fault. That’s my fault.”
I think a lot of coaches feel this way to certain extent a lot of the time, but we, all of us — coaches, media, administrators — who are at “fault” here, should probably ask ourselves if we actually want to play in an arena where a conference that by any objective measure isn’t quite as strong as it has been in recent years is perceived as equally strong based solely on public relations work.
I’m pretty confident in my answer to that question: We don’t want that.
The Grab Bag
- Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star remembers former Husker wingback Anthony Steels, who passed away on Friday.
- Austin Ward of ESPN writes that Mike Riley has momentum headed into year three.
- Dennis Dodd on the Hugh Freeze situation at Ole Miss.
- According to a report from the Seattle Times, Washington may have used inflated numbers on its women’s rowing team to reach Title IX compliance.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.