Hot Reads: An Open Competition
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: An Open Competition

April 03, 2017

Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star offered his impressions of Nebraska’s quarterback derby following the Huskers’ scrimmage on Saturday. Like a lot of people, he seems to be leaning towards Tanner Lee while being respectful of the race at hand.

Sipple also noted, and it was very much worth noting, how open Nebraska’s staff has been throughout the race, offering honest impressions of Lee and Patrick O’Brien and letting both players field questions from the media while taking care not to rush to any sort of announcement.

It doesn’t always go that way, as Sipple knows firsthand:

Along those lines, one of my more heated run-ins with Bo Pelini occurred in the spring of 2010, when I tweeted that Taylor Martinez had nudged ahead of Cody Green. The Green camp was unhappy and evidently ruined an otherwise tranquil offseason Saturday evening for Bo — who in turn ruined mine.

This quarterback transparency in 2017 isn’t much of a surprise given how Mike Riley has navigated his Nebraska tenure thus far. He’s been pretty open about everything. Doesn’t make it any less refreshing, however.

It’s a conflict with coaches that I’ve never really been able to resolve. Every coach I’ve ever talked to more than once has used the word “execution” more than once when describing a win or a loss (usually a loss). I’d classify that as a coaching truth rather than a cliche. The team that best does what it wants to do — i.e. it executes — does tend to win.

But if that’s the case, why so much secrecy? For people who seem to know it’s not what you do so much as how you do it, a lot of coaches spent a lot of time protecting the “what.”

Riley does it to a lesser degree than most, however. Sipple’s right: That’s worthy of some recognition.

Miles and New Mexico

It started with a tweet; an April Fools’ Day tweet no less though it didn’t seem like a prank. New Mexico fired its men’s basketball coach, Craig Neal, late Friday night and by Saturday morning Tim Miles’ name was mentioned as a potential candidate to fill the opening.

It doesn’t take much to make a potential-candidates list. Once an athletic director makes his move, outlets have to scramble to come up with options and often connecting one dot — here’s why Coach X could be on the list at School Y — is more than enough to merit consideration. (That’s not including behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the parts of agents, who sometimes work pretty hard just to get their clients mentioned.)

In the case of Miles and New Mexico, there were at least a couple of dots. One, Miles knows the Mountain West from his time at Colorado State. Two, New Mexico’s associate head coach, who is on contract through 2017-18, is former Miles assistant Chris Harriman. (New Mexico’s other assistants are on contract, too, on a month-to-month basis.) Add in a motive — you would have to be willfully ignorant to say Miles’ Nebraska tenure isn’t at a critical juncture — and you have a perfect breeding ground for coaching-search speculation.

Miles was still on those lists on Sunday. The Albuquerque Journal reported that New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs was expected to interview three candidates on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, where all the coaches (in their sweatsuits) are for the Final Four.

Was Miles one of the three? It’s impossible to know, but I’d be surprised if that were the case. Doing some very unscientific poking around on New Mexico fan sites and message boards, it doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of Miles support among the Lobos fan base. He got 9 percent of the fan vote here, which ranked third out of seven candidates but was only as popular as the name-your-own-coach option. At the Albuquerque Journal, Miles wasn’t even listed on the poll.

There’s a power dynamic to most coaching hires. Occasionally you’ll see a job change where both fan bases walk away happy, but it’s rare. In most cases there has to be a winner and a loser — Indiana won when it hired Archie Miller and, though there was nothing it could do, Dayton lost — and the school making the hire has a huge advantage.

As far as Miles and New Mexico go, it seems as though Lobo fans have already decided New Mexico would be on the wrong side of that dynamic in this specific scenario. I’m assuming Krebs is aware of that.

The Grab Bag

Today’s Song of Today

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