Upon further review – and with an explanation – Arizona coach Sean Miller said his postgame speech “certainly wasn’t a goodbye.”
That’s probably a relief to a lot of fans who thought it was. Speculation throughout McKale Center – and beyond given the craziness of Twitter and national columnists chiming in – was Miller was saying adios the McKale crowd, his fans and anyone who would listen.
“It has been an amazing honor to coach in McKale Center for the last 10 years, thank you for everything,” Miller said in part on Saturday.
He could have easily dropped the mic, but didn’t. He also called McKale Center a magical place, a place with loyal fans.
Making matters worse on the speculation was Miller didn’t want to comment on his future in the post-game press conference, but he rarely – if ever – has.
On Monday, when asked early in the press conference in preparation for UA’s game with USC on Wednesday, he said he meant “everything that I said” but said context played a part in it.
“I think part of me in that speech is you’re overwhelmed by the fact that there’s still a crowd in attendance,” he said on Monday. “We lost to our rival. That’s a small part of it, obviously.
“We finished our season. 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 from that perspective it’s not like I’m pointing the finger at anybody on our team. If anything, I’m pointing a finger at myself.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller brings some clarity to his postgame speech Saturday night.
“It certainly wasn’t a goodbye speech” pic.twitter.com/Rr7CpVU3jz
— Matt Moreno (@MattGOAZCATS) March 11, 2019
“But I meant what I said in terms of I can’t imagine a fan base treating a coach any better than this fan base has treated our staff and me and 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 the last two years where a lot of fan bases would change to not feeling good.
“But the group of people who come to McKale. I think we led the Pac-12 in attendance again. It’s overwhelming to see the support. I’m not naive enough to think it would be like that at any other place. It may not be like that at any place.
He continued for what was more than two minutes.
“And the second part of me how I worded what I worded was it’s also not the time to talk about the future. At that moment, I hadn’t even talked about our team. It’s still not the time to talk about our future. For us, me, the coach it’s not fair to this group, this team, to talk about a period of time when they’re no longer going to be here. So for us, I want to make sure we address things in the present and that was my best attempt. And if it was taken any other way, that certainly wasn’t what I was trying to accomplish.
“But I think if you look carefully at my message and words … I can’t thank the group, the fans, the people who are season ticket holders and how much they’ve stood by this team and our staff and the last couple of years under some very trying times.”