Tim Miles just finished year five at Nebraska. During the latter part of the season, both Miles and the Husker athletic department had to answer questions about his future with the program.
Obviously Shawn Eichorst, Nebraska’s athletic director, made the decision to bring back Miles for year six, offering him a vote of confidence in the process.
Year six could be the most important though, and likely Eichorst will be looking for tangible improvement. We all know how this business works. A vote of confidence only goes so far and coaches operate in a quick trigger business.
Let’s take a look at Miles’s tenure as the Nebraska head coach and what the immediate future looks like.
No matter how the numbers are presented, it’s not pretty. Miles is 75-86 as Nebraska’s head coach and, more importantly, 33-57 in the Big Ten. He’s had only one winning season (2013-’14), when the team finished 19-13 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten.
From that moment on, it’s been five or six win seasons in conference. In fact, in four of the five seasons with Miles, the team has finished with six or fewer conference wins.
Putting the last five years in context, Miles’ turnaround effort at Colorado State really didn’t reach completion until the fifth season, when the Rams went 20-12 and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The trend line though has been moving in the wrong direction, unfortunately. Miles achieved success in just his second season at Nebraska and the record, at least, has become worse since then.
From January 5th on, the Huskers won only three games. One of those wins was versus Purdue and Miles’ team actually started 3-0 in the Big Ten. Early on, it certainly looked like the program was about to turn a corner.
Unfortunately, a five game losing streak, bookended with a loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament, marred the final two weeks of the season.
It was the home stretch, losing five in a row, which made people openly question whether Miles would be back as the Husker coach.
Over and over we’ve heard that Nebraska is young, and the reality is that they are. Last year’s roster only had one senior, Tai Webster, and 10 freshmen or sophomores.
Guys like Glynn Watson Jr. and Ed Morrow seemed to take positive steps in their sophomore seasons. The same could be said for Jack McVeigh and Michael Jacobson. (Unfortunately, Jeriah Horne a promising young prospect has decided to transfer.)
But how the talent develops, or doesn’t, will determine Miles’ ultimate future with the program. That’s what the Huskers have been selling the last two plus years: We’re young and will go through growing pains, but it’ll ultimately pay off once the roster gains experience.
Miles appears committed to Nebraska. His name had been floated for other coaching vacancies, like New Mexico, but he reaffirmed his desire to stay in Lincoln.
Certainly, he has been able to inject some excitement into the program and who’s the alternative to Miles? That’s not a reason to stick with a coach, but it’s a part of the calculus.
The Huskers have realistic expectations (unlike other programs in the Big Ten) and given time, Miles could turn Nebraska into a consistent threat in the conference.
But it’ll all likely come down to year six (when the talented sophomores become juniors) as the determining factor in Miles’ future at Nebraska.