Nobody can fault Archie Miller for swapping Dayton and the Atlantic 10 for Indiana and the Big Ten. Too much money and prestige to turn down, and with so many impact seniors leaving and a bit of a rebuilding phase likely looming, it was just time.
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Coaches know when they’ve taken a program as far as it can go. At the risk of dampening Dayton fans’ enthusiasm, new coach Anthony Grant isn’t going to win a national championship, because mid-majors don’t. Butler came close, but that was with two future NBA players. And, no, Gonzaga can’t be considered a mid-major anymore.
So don’t egg Miller’s house. This coach and this program were never meant to grow old together.
One detail of Miller’s defection over the weekend did not sit well, however, and that was when he cited Indiana’s “peerless fan support” in explaining why Bloomington was “a dream destination” for him and his family.
Granted, the quote was part of a press release no doubt crafted or suggested by Miller’s agent, but why Miller approved of this subtle swipe at Dayton fans on his way out the door isn’t clear.
And make no mistake, it definitely had the feel of a swipe, a nudge, a knock.
“Peerless” means Indiana boasts the best fan support in the country, bar none. While IU certainly ranks right up there by any measure, no fan base could have supported Miller and his family more whole-heartedly over the last six seasons than Dayton’s.
“Peerless” implies the Dayton experience could have gone better for the Millers, but that doesn’t pass the laugh test. How many fan bases, even in the so-called power conferences, get behind a program more avidly than the Flyer Faithful. A few? Five at the most?
Sure, Miller sought to curry favor with Indiana fans after agreeing to a $28 million contract, especially since more than a few immediately hopped on message boards to say the school should have invested in somebody else.
But “peerless” was an unfortunate word choice. It says the UD faithful are second rate, that they take a back seat.
Miller’s thank you tweet aside, is it wrong to wonder whether something amiss with the surroundings had anything to do with why he left?