Xavier continues to pump out elite coaches to power conference teams.
Pete Gillen went to Providence, the late Skip Prosser went to Wake Forest, Thad Matta bolted for The Ohio State and now Sean Miller has left for Arizona.
Despite the name recognition of Arizona, the Wildcats were having trouble luring coaches to their program.
After unsuccessfully attempting to lure John Calipari who left Memphis for Kentucky last week, Mark Few of Gonzaga, Tim Floyd of USC and Jamie Dixon of Pitt, Arizona found their man in Xavier’s Sean Miller.
After much haggling, and a night of sleep, Miller decided to accept the Wildcat’s offer to become the new head coach.
The fifth-year Xavier coach met with Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday.
Miller asked to sleep on the offer. When he called back on Monday, he was offered more money, and the offer was too good to pass up.
Miller wasn’t the first choice for Arizona, which is evident by the amount of unsuccessful attempts before him and Arizona was unsure whether or not Miller would bite; as a precautionary measure they made inquiries with Utah about coach Jim Boylen.
Boylen was a former assistant to Tom Izzo at Michigan State, as well as a former assistant in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks. Boylen has strong recruiting ties to the West, and has done a quality job of rebuilding the Utah program; Arizona beat Utah, a No. 5 seed, in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Miller coached Xavier to another Top 25 ranking, a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, a 27-8 record and a 12-4 A-10 conference record. Xavier is the favorite to win the A-10 next season, and looks to continue the strong run of success they experienced under Miller.
Miller has taken Xavier to the NCAA Tournament four of the past five seasons. Xavier has gone as far as the Elite Eight, and this season they fell to Pitt in the Sweet 16.
Arizona will have to do a lot of rebuilding in order to become competitive again. If Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise leave as expected, the top returning scorers for the Wildcats next season would be Jamelle Horne (6.8 PPG), Kyle Fogg (6.1 PPG) and Zane Johnson (4.6 PPG).
If this scenario plays out, the Wildcats would likely be picked to finish last in the Pac-10. Arizona finished the season 21-14, 9-9 in the conference, and finished with a loss in the Sweet 16 to Louisville.
Miller will be the fourth coach in four years for the Wildcats. The carousel has gone from Lute Olson, to interim coach Kevin O’Neil for the ’07-’08 season, to interim coach Russ Pennell last season and now Sean Miller.
This carousel has cost the Wildcats two recruiting classes thus far.
They have already lost their top recruit for next season, Abdul Gaddy, when he asked out of his letter of intent to play for rival Pac-10 foe Washington; Incoming recruit Brandon Jennings went to Europe, and freshman Jeff Withey transferred to Kansas for next season.
Other coaches that opted to stay put told ESPN.com that the amount of money they were being offered was comparable to what they were being paid, and there was no rebuilding to do at their programs…they are winning now.
Despite Miller’s success at Xavier, he had a .719 winning percentage, he will have a lot of work to do with the Wildcats. The Pac-10 has some quality teams in UCLA, Arizona State, Washington and USC.
The Wildcats will have a lot of work to do to get back to National Prominence and Sean Miller may be just the man to get the job done.