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Misplaced Optimism

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
I know you have an opinion on this, and some is based on your first hand experience inside, but a fair amount is based on your core belief in what you do. I get that, I'm sure there are areas of impact you could have to create positives. Should we invest in that? Maybe, probably, but it is an investment, and there is a finite amount of those resources, be it financial, time, or simply the buy in from the athletes, there are limits.
I cannot give an opinion not based on what I do and my experience, and I appreciate your support on my background and work. Agreed there are limits to support. This type of leadership and team dynamics consulting is NOT one of them. As a matter of fact, UNL AD would say they have this and it is part of the normal support athletics gets. But in truth the Teams do not for many reasons, so HENCE the support is not as we are led to believe. Therefore people like me (I am not the only one) are asked to fill the gaps by coaches and or other departments. Take Miles out of it. SF uses "The Program" and has at every coaching job he has had in DIV1. Cook used many outside people over the years, and recently had an "outside nutrioninist", W Gym has used outside people, Erstad an outside guy until he died. So I contend that A) it has been common practice at NU and other places. B) Its is those high prices coaches and ADs that get paid to make decisions on investments, resources, money, time and buy in and ultimately VALUE to their respective sport. C) Being equitable with that policy is on the AD and no one else.

If FB started off like this MBB Team, and then had support SF researched/approved/and was using that was abrubtly stopped by the AD and they went into a tailspin I think the optic on this would be different. Tim's history and current performace is clouding the point I am trying to make: Coaches should be able to use resources inside or outside of the AD they feel help their programs that are LEGAL, within NCAA NORMS, Financially within respective budgets etc....That doesn't happen at NU since SE arrival, Moos has not got a handle on it yet. I hope he does.

Does anyone not believe NU coaches should be able to do what I just described, in order to make their programs as competitive as possible?

If SF thinks Jack Stark is going to help his FB program, don't you think he should be able to do it?

If Tim Miles, thinks Jack Smack is going to help his MBB program, don't you think he should be able to do it? Tim is the latest example of this dynamic between coaches and the AD, and unfortunately it has hurt his Team and his career and help contribute to this season. By no means is it the only reason, but it is a reason that is not well known, and one I am familiar with and wanted to share.

I don't care who coaches MBB next or any sport down at NU, I care that they get the support their experience tells them they need whether it is inside or outside the department, whether it is me, a dog, a cat or Mickey Mouse. Let's be honest, by communicating all this and bringing it to light I have made it highly unlikely that I will be able to volunteer at NU, however my hope is that it will bring about positive change so that the coaches and players can have EVERY advantage to compete at the highest level. They simply do not currently.
 
I know you have an opinion on this, and some is based on your first hand experience inside, but a fair amount is based on your core belief in what you do. I get that, I'm sure there are areas of impact you could have to create positives. Should we invest in that? Maybe, probably, but it is an investment, and there is a finite amount of those resources, be it financial, time, or simply the buy in from the athletes, there are limits.

You also tend to contend that we can't have expectations that a coach can do it all, that the AD and admin are going to have to be fully involved to be successful. Beyond giving a thumbs up to you and your services, where exactly have they failed to get Miles the components he needs to be successful? Win or lose, Miles is pretty much set for life financially. The assistant coach's salaries are solid, not spectacular, but definitely decent. The facilities have been called some of the best in the conference. Strength and nutrition, hard to argue those are lacking. And while they aren't directly involved in getting people into the arena, we do spend some substantial marketing dollars to promote season ticket sales for all of those sellouts. Has Miles been prohibited from taking transfers? Has he been prohibited from looking at JUCOs? How about coaching clinics, is he not allowed to attend those, to in theory, learn from others? Is our scheduling not attractive for recruits? Beyond not having you participate, or someone with similar skills, I'm missing how they are hamstringing our program from being successful.

Here's the main rub for me. I played ball. I had a great time, was lucky enough to be in a successful program. I had coaches who won a ton of games. We did that with some pretty crappy facilities, no racks of nice new balls, not taking great trips to Europe or the Bahamas, not attracting amazing amounts of highly rated talent, not having strength coach or nutritionist. And oddly, though I knew the AD, and I could easily stop by his office and say 'hi' anytime, he didn't have any direct influence on the day to day operations of the basketball team.

My coach, who I'll be absolutely honest, wasn't a great 'on the fly, game changer'. He didn't dial up some great trick play, or call some trendy defense, that ever won us a game. What he did was create a system. We had a solid offense we could run in our sleep. It didn't create one option, or two, it created opportunities for just about every player, and because of that we didn't have 1 or 2 guys you could focus on stopping, you had to play defense on everyone. Here was a guy who won hundreds of games, but every year he'd go to at least one coaching clinic...and not to teach, but to learn. He took sports psychology classes of every kind, and taught coaching as well. What's funny is, we could all but sleepwalk our way to a conference title most years, yet he did things every year to make himself better, so he could make our team and the program better. He didn't bring in the messenger to deliver the message, he learned the message and brought it to us, and delivered it as the head coach.

Miles makes $2.25 million a year. Even if the admins wouldn't pay for it, why wouldn't he do all he could to make himself better? I don't know, maybe he does, maybe he's out there trying to learn more about X & O strategies, and what makes the modern athlete tick, but we aren't seeing that on the court. And that's a huge issue for me. He's a guy with 20+ years of head coaching experience, yet would you ever say he looks like a confident, analytical mentor on the sidelines? Honestly, his mannerisms and facial expressions remind me of our High School JV coaches, who were generally coaching because they were males and hoped to make a couple of more bucks in their paycheck, and might be, might be, at least sort of familiar with the sport. That's not the image that has players oozing with confidence.

There is another poster who is pretty familiar with Miles, and after hearing how he tries to structure a team, I'm not surprised he roller coasters from season to season. He doesn't build a system, he tries to build a leader. You don't build an alpha, you don't put all your eggs in one basket. You can have a star, but you can't have a team if all you focus on is the star, because some years you have a star that shines, and some years you don't. If you don't have a strong system and balance, you fail. Tim's coaching flaws haven't been addressed in 20+ years, and frankly, suggesting those flaws are somehow the responsibility of the Admin would be seen as deflection if they came from most people. The fact you are suggesting the Admin carries some of this burden feels a little more like applying for a job than addressing the real issue.

And for the record, I like what you do, I admire your enthusiasm and confidence, but in this case I think you are suggesting a fix that isn't what's causing the machine to sputter.
Excellent post. I've chronicled some of the issues with the offense but there are a few things that really bother me.

1) Lack of a true big man. In the Big 10 conference, a big man in the middle is a necessity and I'm talking about 6'10" and taller. The conference plays tough (but not quite Bill Lambeer tough) defense. Over time a team with a bunch of 6' 7" and 6' 8" finesse players will get beat down. In most defensive strategies, if you don't have a big man, you will be outmatched. It doesn't matter if it's straight-up man, zone, a match-up zone, press or hybrid, eventually the defense will break down. The reason Gene Keady (Purdue) won so many games was because he developed his big guys. They were smart; could move; sort of jump but were strong as hell and they understood the offense and their objectives within the offense. They looked like tight ends and he had a stable of them - both with forwards and centers. He needed them; he knew it and he was successful.

2) Lack of a sustainable bench. The scoring production from the bench is nearly non-existent. The guys that come in off the bench (although they fight hard) essentially are space fillers until the starter can come back. On top of the lack of depth, most of the guys coming off the bench aren't Top Tier reserves and their game doesn't appear to be developed. They're more like "role" players but without a true role and when they make a basket, the fans give them condescending applause or they get a "Holy crap! X just made a basket!"

3) Lack of a true point guard (PG). The PG is the general on the floor; the guy that gets the other players to their spot on the court; the guy that sets up the offense; the guy that sets the tempo; the guy that looks to establish the offense by distributing the ball; the guy that makes the offense go. A true PG will get in the face of his players if he sees them slacking off. A true PG is not selfish; he isn't about how many points he scores and is all about the team and he runs the offense that the coach wants him to run.

All three of those issues are the fault of the head coach. Period. End of story.
 

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
Has Miles been prohibited from taking transfers? Has he been prohibited from looking at JUCOs? How about coaching clinics, is he not allowed to attend those, to in theory, learn from others? Is our scheduling not attractive for recruits? Beyond not having you participate, or someone with similar skills, I'm missing how they are hamstringing our program from being successful.
Again from your OPTIC these things all can be done and I believe are. If a missing piece to the puzzle is outside support (me or other) I think coaches should be allowed to use it. A good majority of their competitors do. Since, I can't seem to get you off Tim and on to the greater topic of "yeah/neah of outside support policy" of the AD, I will just say SE and so far Moos have not done the best at supporting MBB as they have other program at many levels. I agree they have done a great job on facilities, ticket sales etc...etc...but those things don't build winning Teams. People do. I hope in the future NU supports with ALL available resources in and outside the program, or I don't see them getting where they want across the board in athletics.
 

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
Here's the main rub for me. I played ball. I had a great time, was lucky enough to be in a successful program. I had coaches who won a ton of games. We did that with some pretty crappy facilities, no racks of nice new balls, not taking great trips to Europe or the Bahamas, not attracting amazing amounts of highly rated talent, not having strength coach or nutritionist. And oddly, though I knew the AD, and I could easily stop by his office and say 'hi' anytime, he didn't have any direct influence on the day to day operations of the basketball team.
He does, if he pulls your STRENGTH guy, YOUR NUTRITION guy, and people your coach brings in to help your TEAM. Of course AD's can make that decision, but it isn't without consequences good or bad.
 

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
Here was a guy who won hundreds of games, but every year he'd go to at least one coaching clinic...and not to teach, but to learn. He took sports psychology classes of every kind, and taught coaching as well. What's funny is, we could all but sleepwalk our way to a conference title most years, yet he did things every year to make himself better, so he could make our team and the program better. He didn't bring in the messenger to deliver the message, he learned the message and brought it to us, and delivered it as the head coach.
I would say that MILES was doing this.....Doing this EXACTLY. Maybe not in your opinion doing it well, but this dynamic you speak of..... he was doing and he was attempting to use a teaching/learning method recommended by TO and John Cook. SE wouldn't allow it and then Bill Moos did for awhile, and pulled it. I think that is on the AD, not Tim.
 

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
Miles makes $2.25 million a year. Even if the admins wouldn't pay for it, why wouldn't he do all he could to make himself better? I don't know, maybe he does, maybe he's out there trying to learn more about X & O strategies, and what makes the modern athlete tick, but we aren't seeing that on the court. And that's a huge issue for me. He's a guy with 20+ years of head coaching experience, yet would you ever say he looks like a confident, analytical mentor on the sidelines? Honestly, his mannerisms and facial expressions remind me of our High School JV coaches, who were generally coaching because they were males and hoped to make a couple of more bucks in their paycheck, and might be, might be, at least sort of familiar with the sport. That's not the image that has players oozing with confidence.
I think we have answered these questions.....I am sure he does, and I am not sure how I can say it any more clear. His two AD's, have not allowed him to use the people (me) he wanted to use to gain a competitive advantage and become a better coach.

Mannerisms, expressions etc....can all be taught and changed when someone is trying to get better at what they do. Just read John Cook's book "Dream Like a Champion". I was part of a Team that helped him re-invent his coaching style, mannerisms and expressions, and I think we all like the results.
 

Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
There is another poster who is pretty familiar with Miles, and after hearing how he tries to structure a team, I'm not surprised he roller coasters from season to season. He doesn't build a system, he tries to build a leader. You don't build an alpha, you don't put all your eggs in one basket. You can have a star, but you can't have a team if all you focus on is the star, because some years you have a star that shines, and some years you don't. If you don't have a strong system and balance, you fail. Tim's coaching flaws haven't been addressed in 20+ years, and frankly, suggesting those flaws are somehow the responsibility of the Admin would be seen as deflection if they came from most people. The fact you are suggesting the Admin carries some of this burden feels a little more like applying for a job than addressing the real issue.
I am not suggesting his flaws are the responsibility of AD, I am factually stating that AD didn't allow him to use "volunteer/consulting" help that he felt was best for his program. For better or worse. I absolutely am saying AD carries some of the burden of putting coaches and players best possible position to be competitive. SF says that as well "We need everyone rowing in the same direction" Every coach would tell you that. SF wouldn't even think of coming here until the AD began to turn around, and has said as much in public. So yeah, the AD has a big stake in the competitive product we see on the fields and courts. I know there are lots of issues/items that go into this, and choose to discuss this one because it has not been discussed or well known and IMO it is very important dynamic to Husker Athletics. I don't want a job I want to be able to help coaches, athletes, and businesses be better at what they do. I go where I am invited, show value and hopefully make a difference or I don't get to stay around long. NU isn't currently using best practices across the board, and in this case it has hurt MBB. Simple.
 
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Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
And for the record, I like what you do, I admire your enthusiasm and confidence, but in this case I think you are suggesting a fix that isn't what's causing the machine to sputter.
Appreciate that, and you and I have been going round and round and I enjoy your perspective and I am happy at least one person wants to engage on the subject because I think it is an important topic down at DONU. I would concur, my fix may not be what is causing the machine to sputter and it may be time to get a new machine, but I think that while you own the machine and it is in flight you better do all you can to keep it airborne. Once it lands, you can change it out. Or......you can let it crash and burn and start over. In the end, I just hope NU and the AD will adopt a policy that allows coaches to use and work with whatever they need to provide the best advantages they think they need. Increasingly, that is resources outside of the system at other ELITE organizations and was a good method at NU starting with Jack Stark in the 1990's with FB, and is something I hope NU adopts in the future across the board for all coaches and sports.
 

All 'N' 011808

Former Walk-on
2 Year Member
I am not suggesting his flaws are the responsibility of AD, I am factually stating that AD didn't allow him to use "volunteer/consulting" help that he felt was best for his program. For better or worse. I absolutely am saying AD carries some of the burden of putting coaches and players best possible position to be competitive. SF says that as well "We need everyone rowing in the same direction" Every coach would tell you that. SF wouldn't even think of coming here until the AD began to turn around, and has said as much in public. So yeah, the AD has a big stake in the competitive product we see on the fields and courts. I know there are lots of issues/items that go into this, and choose to discuss this one because it has not been discussed or well known and IMO it is very important dynamic to Husker Athletics. I don't want a job I want to be able to help coaches, athletes, and businesses be better at what they do. I go where I am invited, show value and hopefully make a difference or I don't get to stay around long. NU isn't currently using best practices across the board, and in this case it has hurt MBB. Simple.
I understand that you know of some support that is not present for the program; however, that is not what has caused this team to sputter this year...which began before Copeland was lost for the season due to injury. For the most part, this team has played pretty well on the defensive side of the ball; the biggest challenge for this team has been consistent offensive production and depth that can help create this production. My now 11 year old can see this. I agree with Lars that you can assist the program in some good ways, but unless you are going to fix the offense...
 

LarstheRed

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
I think we have answered these questions.....I am sure he does, and I am not sure how I can say it any more clear. His two AD's, have not allowed him to use the people (me) he wanted to use to gain a competitive advantage and become a better coach.

Mannerisms, expressions etc....can all be taught and changed when someone is trying to get better at what they do. Just read John Cook's book "Dream Like a Champion". I was part of a Team that helped him re-invent his coaching style, mannerisms and expressions, and I think we all like the results.
I admire your confidence, but to suggest the only thing holding Miles back is you, or someone like you, grossly oversimplifies what makes a quality coach and a solid program. If that's all it takes, then they should hire you as a head coach, and you can bring in the guys to teach basketball 101.

I have a friend who has been on the court with probably 80% of the P5 coaches, and he's gotten to see their coaching ability first hand. The ones he says are good, are the ones that created a strong template, and continue to build on it. Do they have down years? Of course, but those are anomalies. Their teams run good sets, make good passes, set good screens, find open men, play intelligent basketball, all the things that you are not going to provide a team, yet all the things I expect a 20+ year coach to be able to create. And they are all things that have little or nothing to do with what the AD will or won't provide. A good builder starts with a good foundation. That foundation is knowing the game, knowing the fundamentals. Your job is to help them to understand how to win the game. Until we have the first part, why dwell on the second?
 
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Jack Riggins

Stay Calm, and Carry On Husker Nation
I understand that you know of some support that is not present for the program; however, that is not what has caused this team to sputter this year...which began before Copeland was lost for the season due to injury. For the most part, this team has played pretty well on the defensive side of the ball; the biggest challenge for this team has been consistent offensive production and depth that can help create this production. My now 11 year old can see this. I agree with Lars that you can assist the program in some good ways, but unless you are going to fix the offense...

Yup, can't help fix the offense or defense. Wish I could, wish someone could.
 

LarstheRed

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
I am not suggesting his flaws are the responsibility of AD, I am factually stating that AD didn't allow him to use "volunteer/consulting" help that he felt was best for his program. For better or worse.
Let me hit you with another question: Do you work coaching clinics? Do you work with coaches off season? Was there any reason Miles couldn't have gained some of the perspective you share on his own in the offseason? Isn't that what most coaches do? As I stated before, I know my coaches attended at least a couple every year.

And please help me understand, and I mean this honestly as I do not know, do you attend practice daily when you work with teams? Are you given a certain amount of time to speak to, or interact with the players, and/or staff? I know you mentioned the group Frost brought in, but if I'm not mistaken, that was a one day, 'team building' type of exercise, not something with the group participating daily.
 

HuSkaBob

Husker Geek
5 Year Member
Last two posts (100 & 101) really bring this together: There may be leadership issues, strength and conditioning issues, academic issues, behavior/legal issues with a team: If they don't play the sport well, it's really hard to worry about the other things. I think that's where I've gotten to with Miles - he's not teaching a successful brand of basketball. His plan almost never works out, seems like he has to get lucky to get the players on the floor. Amy Williams however, wow. Connie Yori - pretty darn good. A bit early to tell for Scott Frost, but John Cook seems to be doing alright. :)
 
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LarstheRed

Junior Varsity
5 Year Member
Mannerisms, expressions etc....can all be taught and changed when someone is trying to get better at what they do. Just read John Cook's book "Dream Like a Champion". I was part of a Team that helped him re-invent his coaching style, mannerisms and expressions, and I think we all like the results.
Let's be fair, John Cook won almost 70% of his games prior to coming to Nebraska, and even during his 'slump' qualified for the regional finals. The point being, his 'foundation', his ability to coach at a high level had already been established. You obviously enhanced that, for which we are all very grateful as we do love our National Championships, but even his times of floundering were pretty darn good. I'm a fan of 'good to great', not big on 'floundering to adequate'.

SE and BM should probably have not put limitations on who coaches could seek out to help them, but in defense of Moos, I'd be hard pressed to hear yet another reason Miles can't get over the hump, especially when you aren't seeing stages of improvement, followed by a plateau...this has been a roller coaster from day 1.
 
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