He listened and, ultimately, he stayed.
Sean Miller acknowledged that he spoke with Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson about the school’s head coaching vacancy and considered taking the job. But, through it all, he ultimately decided the best move for him and his family was to not move at all.
“I paused and considered for 40 hours in total,” Miller said of how close he came to going to Maryland. “I know in the way college sports is today, it seems like an eternity, but that’s how long it was, and nobody’s happier to be a head coach at any place in the country than I am here at the University of Arizona, and if the deeper meaning of this weekend is that I’m here for the long haul, unconditionally, that’s what that means I am.”
That surely is great news for Wildcats fans everywhere, who nervously watched the events unfold over the weekend. Everything from talk of his family being unhappy in Tucson to him having an internal desire to coach Maryland basketball seemed to point in the direction of Miller’s departure.
Miller leaving would have been a devastating blow for a school that has desperately sought out stability since Lute Olson took a leave of absence before the 2007 season. Kevin O’Neill filled in that season and, after Olson returned, left the school. However, Olson’s return did not last long, as he stepped down again before the 2008 season, this time for good. Miller was hired away from Xavier before the 2009 campaign and, after missing the NCAA Tournament in his first year, won the Pac-10 and advanced to the Elite 8 in his second. With an impressive incoming freshman class, it seemed a little silly that Miller would have considered stepping away.
Instead, Miller signed a contract extension with Arizona.
“I believe we can do some magical things,” Miller said now that he’s staying in Arizona. “Magical things have already happened here at one time, and what happened this year should only be a springboard to future seasons and a sign that Arizona is trying to compete for what we always have, and that is championships.”
Of course, everyone knew Arizona’s future looked bright with Miller in charge, and it was puzzling to some as to why he would consider leaving for what is, at best, perceived to be a lateral career move, but more than likely a step backwards. That’s why talk about his family’s wishes started to dominate the rumors. But, Miller said, his family was not interested in leaving Tucson.
“I’m 42 years old; I’ve lived out East for 40 years,” he said. “Is that something that means something to us? We have a lot of friends back there, yes, but my wife loves Tucson, Arizona. Just so you know, one of the big reasons we’re here today is because of her.”
So apparently the talk of his wife Amy’s allergy issues were, like a nose during peak allergy season, overblown. Still, those are the types of things that can become issues during a time like this, as people tried searching for answers, even reasons, as to why the coach may just pack up and leave a mere two years after arriving in the first place.
In the end, though, Miller said it came down to just knowing what he has in Tucson and being comfortable with everything that is happening.
“I didn’t need, like a renewed sense of belief in it, I already had that belief, but I will say that when you have an opportunity sometimes, to do what I did does nothing but strengthen the future,” he said.
But then he added words that, while maybe not the most important ones uttered or printed throughout this process, rank up there as far as being pleasing to Wildcats everywhere.
“I’m not that guy that’s going to do this again next spring, and the spring after.”
That’s good, because after just 40 hours of rumors it’s tough to see the fans surviving another dose of madness of the non-March variety.