Two days after addressing the McKale Center crowd during Senior Day ceremonies, in a way that led to rampant speculation about his future, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller set the record straight about what he said:
It was not meant to serve as a farewell.
“It certainly wasn’t a goodbye speech,” Miller said Monday. “I meant everything that I said. You have to take in to consideration the context. I think part of me in that speech is you’re overwhelmed by the fact there’s a crowd still in attendance. We lost to our rival, that’s a small part of it. Obviously we finished our season and it’s not a successful season by any standards other than to a large extent, I think we did about the best that we could so I think from that perspective it’s not like I’m pointing fingers at anyone on our team. If anything I’m pointing the finger at myself. But I meant what I said in terms of I can’t imagine a fanbase treating a coach any better than this fanbase has treated our staff and me.
“It’s been from the beginning when I was the fourth coach in four years 10 years ago through a lot of great moments, and then the last two years where a lot of fanbases would change, easy to not feel good. But the group of people that come to our games in McKale, I think we’ve led the Pac-12 again in attendance, over 13,000, it’s overwhelming to see the support and I’m not naive enough to think that it would be like that every place. It might not be like this at any other place.
“The second part of me how I worded what I worded is it’s not the time to talk about the future. At that moment I hadn’t even talked to the team and it’s still not the time to talk about our future. I think for us, for me the coach, it’s not fair to this team … to talk about a period of time they’re no longer going to be here. So for us I want to make sure that we address things in the present. That was my best attempt and if it was taken any other way, that’s certainly not what I was trying to accomplish. I think if you look carefully at my message and words, I can’t thank the fans and how much they stood by me and our staff the last couple years under some very trying times.”
After praising the efforts of seniors Justin Coleman and Ryan Luther, Miller told what was left of the crowd that attended Saturday’s 72-64 loss to ASU that “there’s no place that’s more magical than McKale Center. There’s no fans in the world that are more loyal. It has been an amazing honor to coach in McKale Center for the last 10 years. Thank you for everything.”
Asked to clarify those comments during the postgame press conference, Miller declined to comment. That furthered the conjecture that he might have been referring to an impending departure from Arizona, possibly because of the fallout from NCAA and FBI investigations as well as reports that he will be subpoenaed to testify in the upcoming federal bribery trial connected to college basketball.