Like your mama always said, actions speak louder than words. Especially when those words are from the lips of an athletic director with luxury suites to fill.
Shawn Eichorst said a lot of very, very nice things about Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles on Thursday. In the same breath, he also declined to grant Miles a 1-year contract extension that would’ve pushed the agreement to the industry-standard five years out.
Rival fans are going emphasize the second part.
Rival coaches, too. Especially on the recruiting trail.
Welcome to how a coach’s seat goes from unofficially hot to officially … warm.
Eichorst, the Cornhuskers’ athletic director, told the Omaha World-Herald’s Lee Barfknecht that after a day-and-a-half retreat with Miles and his staff, the length of the coach’s contract will stay as-is. Which is, to say, it’s done in four years.
Coaches want five.
Parents want five.
Kids want five.
Athletic directors want five, unless they’re trying to send a message.
Or get out from under an elephant.
Miles is due for a standard salary increase, to a reported $2.125 million. He’s also averaged 18 losses over the last two seasons and is three years removed from one of the quietest little miracles in major college basketball history — having guided Nebraska to its first NCAA tourney since 1998.
“He’s got four years left,” Eichorst told Barfknecht. “There is stability with that. His assistant coaches are all under multiple-year contracts.
“It’s a testament to Tim. He knows that he has the resources and the support necessary. He’s bound and determined to keep us heading in the right direction. We feel good about that.”
Maybe. But he apparently doesn’t feel great.
Or as great as a year ago, when Eichorst did, in fact, grant Miles a 1-year extension to keep the contract’s expiration at a five-year cushion.
Of course, this was before the Huskers went 16-18. And before the bizarre summer departure of leading scorer and rebounder Andrew White III, who didn’t just burn bridges on his way out of Lincoln. He napalmed them.
Long a basketball wasteland, the Huskers moved into Pinnacle Bank Arena, the jewel of Lincoln’s Haymarket district, opened in the fall of 2013. And a top-shelf facility has brought with it raised expectations from a proud, loyal fan base.
Ironically, Miles might have brought some of those expectations upon himself. The Big Red snapped a generation-long NCAA Tournament drought in the coach’s second campaign in relief of Doc Sadler — a 19-13 record in 2013-’14 that saw Nebraska finish fourth in the Big Ten with an 11-7 league mark.
The Huskers have averaged 18 losses — and 12.7 conference setbacks — in the one season before and the two seasons since, bringing whispers as to whether Miles’ ticket to Bracketville was not the new, blessed normal, but the aberration.
“Me and my staff will be rewarded,” Miles told Barfknecht, “when the time is right.”
Fair enough, although some observers aren’t really buying the good-soldier bit:
— GBR (@GBR4EVA) August 4, 2016
Miles/Eichorst might not think it is going to be a “recruiting issue” but they aren’t the ones recruiting against NU https://t.co/PX26jnA6Oj
— John Bishop (@JohnBishop71) August 4, 2016
We come not to bury Miles. Besides, Eichorst might’ve beaten us to it. When it’s all said and done, those 36 enclosed suites inside Pinnacle won’t sell themselves.
You can reach Sean Keeler via email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @seankeeler