By his own count, Arizona coach Sean Miller spent 40 hours thinking long and hard about whether or not to take the Maryland job. It was a nerve-wracking time for Wildcats' fans, but ultimately Miller decided to stay put and build upon the team's Elite Eight appearance by hitting the recruiting trail and securing what is currently the top-ranked class in the nation for 2012.
Maryland moved on, and as we took a look around the ACC today, there is the question of what might have been had Miller chosen to return to his East Coast roots and replaced a retiring Gary Williams. Miller said what he had to say about it in May, but even now, a decision that affected programs from Tucson to College Station to Murray, Ky., continues to be revisited.
According to the Washington Post, one reason Miller didn't leave was because Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson, while interviewing the coach in Las Vegas, would not relent on academic standards for players.
Special admits. That's a term for special admission to a university, a way for a coach to secure more talented players -- most of whom are African American, from inner cities -- without strictly conforming to exact NCAA standards. It's what many successful coaches feel they need to compete against other schools that give talented, academically challenged kids a break that other student-athletes don't receive. It's what Miller wanted to coach at Maryland, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
Many coaches might have asked for the same. But it does show that Anderson is not complicit in anything under the table, because this is what he said:
Asked if he told Miller he could not promise him "special admits," Anderson replied, "It's not that I couldn’t promise him that, I wasn't going to do that. I don't know what they're doing where he is but, you know, we're not doing that."
Another reason Miller remained in Arizona is because as he said in May, his wife "loves" Tucson. There was speculation about the topic after Amy Miller, an East Coast native herself, tweeted about suffering from allergies in the desert, but Sean Miller called the notion that Amy doesn't like Tucson "a misconception."
Amy Miller spoke to the Desert Leaf last month about the issue.
"I've been accused of not liking Tucson," says Amy. "Which is the furthest from the truth. It's been a transition. It's letting go of where you were and...integrating yourself into the community and the culture."
Academics were apparently an issue while allergies were not. Just like that, Maryland went ahead with the Mark Turgeon era, and there is the sense that the program isn't looking back. But one has to wonder what the landscape of college basketball would be like right now if Miller had become a Terrapin.