In a sports world filled with worn out clichÃ©s and guarded responses, CSU coach Tim Miles is a uniquely forthcoming figure.
Miles, who began his head coaching career at NAIA Division-II Mayville State in 1995, has little divide between his thoughts and words.
His straight-forward nature goes well beyond his relationship with the media, his players, or colleagues. By emphasizing relationships with the community around him, Miles has brought a strong following to a once-dismal program.
The first time I ever spoke with Miles was at a pizza parlor near campus last season. At the time, I was writing for the Collegian but had never covered a menâ€™s basketball game.
Coach walked in briskly, grabbed a newspaper and started scanning intently. I complimented him on a win over Wyoming earlier in the week and expected a simple â€˜thank youâ€™ in return.
Instead, Miles stopped and expressed sincere gratitude for my support, and discussed the game and season with meâ€”a random studentâ€”for several minutes before leaving the shop.
So, heâ€™s a nice guy. Whatâ€™s the big deal?
Iâ€™ll tell you.
Being a class act is one of the hardest things to pull off when you are simultaneously trying to run a major college basketball program.
First, you have the relentless pressure of winning. No matter how many games you win, how many quality recruits you land, or even how many conference championship banners you hangâ€¦fans will always expect more.
While striving for success on the court, a coach must also apply motivation to keep his players focused in the classroom.
The challenge of juggling academic and athletic success is enough to challenge coaches of the highest moral standard.
In the meantime, Miles and coaches alike deal with year-round recruiting efforts in an attempt to preserve the future of a program, oftentimes battling with other big time programs in what can become a high-stakes game of posturing.
There are plenty of good guys in coaching, just not many that can fulfill every necessary requirement without compromising who they are.
The athletic department should be applauded, not only for hiring a guy from North Dakota State who practically nobody had ever heard of, but for extending his contract even in the wake of an 0-16 start to his Mountain West Conference career. Itâ€™s now clear why director Paul Kowalczyk felt certain enough of Milesâ€™ character and basketball knowledge to make such a move.
In his fourth season, Miles has already proven to be the hire of the century at Colorado State (for any volleyball junkies, Tom Hilbert was introduced as head coach in 1997). At 17-7, the school is well on its way to its first 20-win season in over a decade.
Better yet, an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament seems a very real possibilityâ€”something the school hasnâ€™t accomplished since 1990.
To go along with a successful rebuilding project at Colorado State, Miles has a resume full of winning basketball. With a record of 216-130 before arriving in Fort Collins, the students and community of Ram Nation are beginning to wonder whether a big-time program might soon be calling Milesâ€™ name.
The CSU side of me would be devastated. The professional/unbiased side would understand the move.
Miles is currently under contract through 2012-13, which means the following:
We can expect a few more years of candid remarks.
We can expect a few more years of a genuine relationship between coach and students.
And we can expect a few more years of damn good basketball at Colorado State University.
Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.