Arizona president says Sean Miller will coach Ohio State ‘over my dead body’
On Monday, the college basketball world was shocked when Ohio State (essentially) fired Thad Matta after 13 seasons as head coach. And just as soon as the ink went dry on that decision, the attention turned to who could be the next head coach in Columbus.
While names like Xavier’s Chris Mack and Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin are probably realistic targets for the Buckeyes, there is one pie-in-the-sky, throw-up-a-Hail-Mary-and-pray-for-a-miracle candidate: Arizona’s Sean Miller. Miller has Midwestern roots (he grew up in Pittsburgh and actually replaced Matta as head coach at Xavier when Matta left for Columbus in 2004) and has had insane success in a young career. Miller’s teams have made it to the Sweet 16 or beyond in seven of his 13 seasons as a head coach.
But while Miller might be the dream candidate for Ohio State fans, the folks in Tucson won’t make it easy to lure him away. That isn’t just an opinion, but a fact, after new Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins was asked about the possibility by The Arizona Republic this week.
Robbins didn’t mince any words:
“The Ohio State University is great university, but they are not going to get Coach Miller,” Robbins said during a wide-ranging interview with The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. “They will have to come over me to get him, as the saying goes, over my dead body.”
Talk about endearing yourself to a fan base, huh? Robbins was just recently hired by the school (he started on June 1), but he clearly knows how important Arizona basketball – and by extension, Miller – is to the university.
The good thing for both Robbins and Wildcats fans everywhere is that it is hard to imagine Miller going anywhere, at least not right now. Arizona brings back a loaded club next year that ranks No. 1 in FOX Sports’ preseason poll, and it will likely open next season as favorite to win the national championship. Why leave for a major rebuild in Columbus when all the heavy lifting is done in Tucson?
And if that weren’t enough, keep in mind that the Wildcats are already loading up for the 2018-19 season as well. Recruiting is off to a rip-roaring start with commitments from Shareef O’Neal (Shaq’s son), as well as five-star point guard Brandon Williams, who just made his pledge to the school on Tuesday. They are also early favorites for two more of the top prospects in America: 7’2 center Bol Bol (Manute’s son, who plays AAU ball with Williams and O’Neal) and the No. 1-ranked player in the country, Marvin Bagley III. Bagley played his high school ball in California last year, but is originally from Arizona.
So yeah, Miller has it rolling, meaning that – barring something shocking – he isn’t going to Columbus.
While Robbins’ quotes sound great on paper – and they are – thankfully, he should have nothing to worry about.