By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — It was The Summer of Tim in 2014 for Nebraska’s beloved Coach Miles.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officers Refusing To Report Vaccine Status Expected To Protest Outside Police Headquarters Tuesday
This was the man who led Nebraska’s once-dormant basketball program to the NCAA Tournament. Miles would go to the mall and get recognized, take selfies, whatever his loyal fans wanted.
On one occasion, Miles even met a fan — a total stranger — for lunch at Raising Cane’s restaurant. He could’ve been the mayor of Lincoln and governor of Nebraska, too.
“I talked a lot of trash on the golf course last year,” said Miles. “I was pretty pumped up.”
Such a high equals the gut-wrenching low he feels now, following the Cornhuskers’ season-ending 68-65 loss to Penn State at United Center on Wednesday. Nebraska got the first game of the conference tournament, showed up for a sparse crowd, lost and heads home.
Now, Miles faces the prospect of a different summer, one filled with the bitter taste of a miserable season.
“It wears on your end,” Miles said. “You go to the shopping center with your head down, you go to the grocery store with your head down and hope you don’t run into anybody.”
Serious questions must be asked by athletic director Shawn Eichorst to Miles as to how a Nebraska team that finished the 2014 regular season 10-2 dropped nine straight this time around. The Huskers opened the season ranked 21st in the nation and lost 18 games.
Make no mistake, Miles isn’t sitting on anything remotely close to a warm seat. He’s in charge of making Nebraska basketball relevant in a time of year when Husker spring football is the only conversation. But it’s hard to explain how such a fall could occur.
The Huskers’ roster was largely comprised of the tournament team from a year ago. Maybe they were just lucky to win 10 games in the span of a dozen?READ MORE: Mobile City Hall Bringing City Services To Little Village Tuesday
Plenty of problems dogged Nebraska this season. Above all, Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields were forced to carry the burden for a team with little depth. The duo combined to go 13-of-38 on Wednesday as the Huskers shot a weak 30.2 percent.
“The shots don’t go our way,” said Petteway. “It seems like that’s been happening night in and night out.”
Miles is known in the public eyes as the quirky, engaging coach who closer resembles a high school math teacher. At times, it’s hard to believe he and Fran McCaffery are in the same profession. Through his P.R. rep, Miles tweets a message at halftime of each game — that same Twitter account that set up Raising Cane’s with a stranger.
What’s not to like about this guy?
However, it’s very possible that Miles lost his team this season. Of those nine straight losses, only two — both to Maryland — were of a single-digit margin. Following an ugly 28-point home loss to Iowa, Miles publicly vowed to lock his team from its facilities, then followed through. The players’ possessions were removed from their locker stalls and put outside.
It wasn’t Miles’ intent for this picture to go viral, and it was intended to send a message. After all, he was just as confused as to how this talented team could unravel. But the Huskers didn’t respond with wins.
With one last chance to salvage the season in some form, with one more shot coming in a three-point game, three Cornhuskers let a rebound fall to the ground and a scrum won by the Nittany Lions. Their best chance to fight on was squandered.
All Miles could do was cover his eyes and shake his head.
“Kind of a microcosm of our season,” Miles said.MORE NEWS: Police Release Video Of Suspects Wanted In Death Of 18-Year-Old Azul De La Garza
A season of disappointment for Miles. This summer will be anything but enjoyable.