Arizona Wildcats fans must get used to this wild speculation.
Sean Miller could be a candidate at this place or that place.
Why is that so?
Maybe it’s because he flirted with the Maryland job only two seasons into his tenure at Arizona in 2011?
Maybe it’s because he has yet to reach 50 — he turns 49 in November.
Maybe it’s because he coaches in the West although he is from the East.
Maybe it’s because he has yet to reach the Final Four at Arizona and media types believe he could reach a higher sustained level somewhere else?
Maybe it’s because people just love to use his name for speculation?
Is Arizona’s job really not that desirable enough to stop the rumors from taking place?
Not only are the Wildcats a likely No. 1-ranked team come the start of the season, they have become a traditional powerhouse. Only twice since Lute Olson’s second season at Arizona in 1984-85 have the Wildcats not reached the NCAA tournament.
Miller also has plenty of incentive to stay in Tucson financially.
In February, Miller’s contract was extended through 2022 and his pay will increase over three years, bringing his annual compensation to at least $2.9 million a year. Miller will also get more stakes in an investment fund that was privately donated and aimed at keeping him in Arizona.
The Longevity Fund is set up in 2014 through a private, anonymous donor. Miller is eligible for 175,000 units in the investment fund if he stays through May 2020. The Arizona Board of Regents signed off in February that Miller will receive another 50,000 units of the fund if he stays through May 2022.
Arizona has won a national title. The Wildcats have sent numerous players to the NBA, many of them lottery picks. They are the strongest power in the West. UCLA is trying to catch up. Gonzaga has a way to go to match Arizona’s success.
Despite this fact, Miller’s name immediately became linked with the Ohio State job when Thad Matta was forced to resign yesterday.
FoxSports.com ran a story in which Miller’s name is listed as one of the top seven candidates to replace Matta. He has Midwestern roots and ties to Matta’s coaching tree.
College basketball columnist Pat Forde mentioned Miller’s name after the news about Matta’s departure yesterday. There’s no way Archie’s brother, Sean – another former Matta assistant – will leave likely preseason No. 1 Arizona. (Not now and probably not ever, given the very different status of basketball at Arizona vs. basketball at Ohio State.)
Sports Illustrated listed Miller as one of the candidates to replace Matta. For Miller, who is a former Matta assistant and longtime friend, this move would be about geographic familiarity. (Miller is from Pennsylvania and attended Pitt.) Has Arizona simply run its course after three athletic directors and three presidents in nine years?
What’s it going to take for the Miller speculation to end or never ever start?
Miller has to become an Arizona institution. He’s not there yet. He will enter his ninth season at Arizona in 2017-18. For him to become tried and true to Arizona he must coach in Tucson for at least another six to 10 years. Who knows if that will happen? Of course, people have their doubts. They will believe it when they see it.
What happens when the North Carolina job becomes open when Roy Williams retires? He turns 67 in August.
What happens if Duke does not hire from within when Mike Krzyzewski retires?
Will Kentucky throw a ton of money at Miller if John Calipari decides to give the NBA another try?
Heck, what if Miller contemplates giving the NBA a try?
Arizona followers must deal with this speculation until Miller reaches the plateau that Olson reached when it became unfathomable that he would leave after coaching Arizona to two Final Fours by his 10th season with the Wildcats.
If success is what it takes, what will be that measure? Is a Final Four trip or even national title the end all? Miller has already established himself as one of the coaching elites in the nation.
When does the speculation end? The mind-boggling thing is we must speculate on that speculation.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.