A View from the Zoo: Arizona Basketball, the Soap Opera that was, Starring Sean Miller

 

It all began when news broke out of the University of Maryland that long time head coach Gary Williams was retiring. Right away, reports stated Maryland's Athletic Director, Kevin Anderson, had a short list of coaches he was targeting to lead the Terrapin's.  That short list included Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Sean Miller (Arizona), Mike Brey (Notre Dame) and Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M).  

At the beginning, many felt Sean Miller was not Maryland's top choice but that quickly changed.  By Friday morning Tucson time, Arizona fans were in a panic mode, possibly never seen before, at least publicly (Twitter was not popular during the Lute Olson debacle and Sean Miller's hiring).  

From paid forums including Scout and Goazcats, to Twitter, people could not help but put more important things aside to find out what was happening that second.  This applies to me personally, as I had a hard time keeping my focus on studying for finals.  

The rumors touched on Miller's connection to the East Coast, his wife's alleged allergy problems in the desert, and dissatisfaction with how the program was being funded.  The allergy issue was a big hit and I can safely say many jokes were made about it across the country.

As Friday afternoon rolled around, I put it on myself to see if there was any information I could find in or around McKale Center.  Luckily, I ran into a player, but sadly he had less information than I did.  However, I did find some comfort in knowing if a player had not been told anything, Miller was still UA's head coach.

When you have a situation of this magnitude, confusion is guaranteed to happen.  This was evident when both sides would report the same information, then later completely contradict the other. With the contradictions came many tweets that were perceived as true but then later realized to not be, as seen here by Paul Biancardi which came late Friday night.

From a source close to Sean Miller, I am getting word that he is on a private plane headed to Maryland. If true this is moving fast !

This was quickly countered by  PointGuardU.com which responded:

Paul Biancardi's tweet that Miller is on a plane to Maryland IS NOT TRUE.

The reason why Biancardi's tweet was such a blunder was due to Miller's obligation to speak at a Nike Basketball Camp in Las Vegas the next day.  If his tweet was correct, Miller would have been on a flight around 10pm Tucson time (1 am eastern), and then have a meeting early Saturday morning.  Coach Miller would have to immediately fly back to Vegas in time for his speaking duty.

Friday also saw calls for Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne's job.  It even went so far that a Facebook group was created to gain support.  I'm happy to report it has now been deleted.  But this personal attack on Arizona AD was unwarranted and ridiculous.  

First, nothing had actually happened.  Miller was still in the state of Arizona, still the head coach of Arizona, and there was no evidence that showed Byrne was just sitting at home not giving a care.  Second, even if a coach leaves, the blame should not go entirely on the Athletic Director.  Yes, he should get some, but if the coach has reason's for going, he is allowed to do what he wants.  

By Saturday, no one knew who to trust because most news outlets were reporting different information and concrete factual information was not presented.

As I woke up late Saturday morning, the first tweet I saw was from Espn's Washington D.C. affiliate, saying that Miller was headed to Maryland.

RT @: According to sources; Sean Miller will be named new men's basketball coach at the Univeristy of Maryland on Monday

 

However, after thinking about what I just read, and subsequently re-tweeted, I realized that Miller's meeting with Maryland had not happened yet, and I was overreacting.  But then again, who was not not at this point.

By around noon Arizona time, it was confirmed Sean Miller would meet with Maryland's AD in Vegas about the job offer.  By this time, it was expected some sort of encounter would happen but still sources were being, well sources.

At this point, clear heads were starting to prevail, sort of.  It was becoming more clear, from sources at least, that Miller was no longer guaranteed to take it and was back near 50-50.  But then again, these were the same sources saying it was a done deal to Maryland.  Regardless, to Arizona fans this was the only positive information they had heard in the past day.

Since the rumors began, Arizona's AD Greg Bryne (@greg_bryne), a member of the Twittersphere, had not posted anything which many found to be interesting and slightly daunting.  This is because he usually keeps the fans up to date with events happening around the program.

But then he tweeted four consecutive posts Saturday afternoon.

-Wildcat Faithful, please know that we have been & continue to work to keep Sean Miller as our coach…..

-During our ongoing conversations Sean is very aware & has been very aware, that we want him to be our coach…..

-We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that happens….

-I hope you have seen our department make a real effort to be transparent & honest. As we are able, we will continue to communicate.

The effect on everyone, I can not say, but to me it showed he was still fighting for his coach and the program.  

And then dead time came.  It was really weird, because there had been non-stop twittering from everyone on my timeline and then it stopped.  I (@UofAlec) even sent a tweet which said,

So the meeting must be done by now...seems these "sources" are keeping their lips shut cuz I haven't heard anything for 3 hours

At this time late afternoon Tucson time, my personal feeling was that Miller was staying.  I had no sources, no inside information, it was just a gut feeling.  It was an accumulation of the money Miller had spent on the Arizona facilities, the level of recruits coming in, as well as in the future, and the way the 2011 recruits were sounding after hearing reports from azdailystar's Bruce Pascoe.

Then the news broke late Saturday night that produced what is not easy to describe.  It was a scream, "heck yeah", "whoo-hoo" all condensed into some sort of sound.

Byrne tweeted:

Breaking news: Internet speculation wrong. Sean Miller is staying at Arizona as our hoops coach.

With that news every single person on both sides let out a sigh.  On Arizona's side it was a sigh of relief.  On Maryland's it was sigh of disappointment.

As we all look back at the weekend, we say thank you to Sean Miller, Greg Byrne for a job well done.  We also wish luck to Maryland's AD Kevin Anderson because Arizona fans know all too well how tough a coaching search can be and how much effort it takes to find the perfect coach.

Because this was such a top-notch soap opera, there have to be awards.

The "Soapy's" are:

Kevin Anderson with "First Person to Leave Vegas Depressed"

Greg Byrne for 'Best Enemy turned Hero'

Amy Miller for 'Most Likely to Leave Sean for the Nasonex Bee'

Sean Miller with 'Best Actor in an Over-Dramatized Episode"

 

 

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