Following twelve seasons, Arizona Basketball head coach Sean Miller has been fired by the school. A graduate of Pittsburgh, Miller spent the first dozens of years of his coaching career bouncing between several coaching staffs, including a stint at his alma mater, and years under Herb Sendek at Miami OH and NC State and Thad Matta at Xavier. He succeeded Matta at Xavier in 2004 and led the Musketeers to a trio of A-10 titles and an Elite Eight run before the Wildcats came calling.
Miller came to Arizona back in 2009, taking over the program that Lute Olson had built into a national contender, meaning there was big pressure for success. In just his second year at Arizona, Miller led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight, a feat he would match twice more in the next four years. In his tenure, Miller took the Wildcats to seven NCAA Tournaments, with five trips to the Sweet Sixteen and those three Elite Eights, but he could never get this program back to the Final Four.
The FBI’s investigation into recruiting violations and such at Arizona paired with three straight years without an NCAA Tournament appearance are likely what cost Miller his job after a dozen years. Inheriting a program a few years removed from national glory, the final memory of the NCAA Tournament for Miller’s Wildcats is getting blasted off the court in an upset by Nate Oats’ Buffalo squad three seasons ago.
The impending cloud of those FBI findings, which will likely throw the program into probation and other long-term issues, does sully the sweetness of this opening, but this is still an elite Pac-12 opening. There will be some great candidates for the position, though high expectations will be lobbed on whoever becomes the next coach. This isn’t quite like succeeding Olson himself, but the next coach has to restore the glory of this program.
There will be a whole host of names mentioned for the job, with plenty of them having direct connections to the Arizona program. We’re going to take a few moments to investigate some of these candidates, though of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list. Arizona can go in many different directions to find their next leader for men’s basketball, so let’s start getting into the candidates.