Tigers coach Calipari has known Xavier’s Miller all his life

On the way home from Greensboro last night, a friend and I were discussing what might have been had Uncle Jed Lee Fowler had been able to land either Rick Barnes or John Calipari 5 years ago. Don’t let the national folks fool you, both were very serious about the NC State opportunity and were very close to accepting the position.

Let’s take a quick look back at Calipari’s flirtation with NC State:

-Dan Wentzel wrote a great piece on Cal and NC State here(must read, I love his take on our job):

No, State is going all in, and if it can lure Calipari out of Memphis, Tobacco Road instantly will get a whole heck of a lot more interesting. College basketball, too.

Calipari would win big at State. He wins big everywhere. An exceptional practice coach and recruiter, he built up Massachusetts, actually got the New Jersey Nets going for the first time in decades and returned Memphis to the national elite.

He’d do the same with the Pack.

There is a false assumption that State can’t win because of its proximity to Duke and Carolina. But the three schools are very different and will recruit, often, from three different talent pools. There are overlaps, sure, but not as many as you’d think.

Duke and State almost never knock heads. Carolina and the Pack could, but only on some in-state prospects. Cal will get his guys, tough kids from around the country, some of them arriving with baggage that he quickly will explain away. He would get the kind of exciting, highly touted prospects that State alums could brag about all summer around 19th holes in North Carolina.

While that shouldn’t matter, the reality is that in a part of the country where college hoops is a 365-day-a-year affair, it does.

Give John Calipari the ACC, an NBA-quality arena, a passionate fan base, a strong tradition and a terrific school to recruit with (not to mention the new NBA age minimum), and talent won’t be the problem.

Does everyone know that Calipari is from the Pittsburgh metro area? You would be amazed by the numerous college basketball connections to the city of Pittsburgh. Anyways, I found this article today that was written before a Memphis vs. Xavier game a few years ago when both coaches were still at mid-major programs:

It’s both ironic and appropriate that the No. 13 Tigers will face Xavier tonight for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship, starting with the fact that the 40-year old Miller has known Calipari for essentially his entire life.

His father, John Miller, is a legendary high school coach in the Pittsburgh area, and their families became intertwined in ways that would take Calipari several minutes to fully explain. That he ultimately recruited Miller to the University of Pittsburgh was almost incidental to their relationship.

“His uncle and I were teammates, and I spent as much time in his grandmother’s house as I did my own house,” Calipari said. “My high school coach and (John Miller) were teammates, and he coached me in the summer. We’re family.”

In that article, I really like this quote:

For Calipari, Miller is often a sounding board, since they go through similar issues during the course of the season trying to maintain a national profile in a league that doesn’t have all the advantages of the Big East or SEC, which have programs practically in Xavier’s and Memphis’ backyards.

“The bottom line is, just like we want to be thought of with North Carolina, Duke Kansas and UCLA, so do they,” Calipari said. “When I was at UMass, people were like, come on, but by the end of the day, that’s what we were thought of. Sean has the same kind of vision. You’re limited by what you think; if you want to limit yourself and say, our level — well, our level is Duke’s level, North Carolina’s level, Kansas’ level and UCLA’s level. That’s the way he thinks, too.”

That quote describes the exact type of mindset we need in a coach at NC State. Calipari would have won big here at NC State though maybe we were lucky he didn’t take the job considering some of the controversies that have followed him to Kentucky. Obviously if Sean Miller has a similar mindset to Calipari in terms of wanting to compete on the same level as Duke, UNC, Kansas, and UCLA, then he would be dream hire for NC State this time around. Sean is in a great situation at Arizona however.

But like I said when I put up this entry about how Billy Donovan “enraged Roy Williams” early in his career at Florida: A guy can dream.

Maybe Cal will at least put in a good word for us?

Speaking of dreams, I always loved this Jim Valvano video.

10-11 Basketball ACC & Other

28 Responses to Tigers coach Calipari has known Xavier’s Miller all his life

  1. Wolfpack93 03/11/2011 at 1:49 PM #

    IIRC, Calipari used the Wolfpack attention to sweeten his own deal at Memphis, and later was quoted in media outlets as saying he was never seriously considering the Wolfpack position. You can say whatever you like about the man, and speculate how you will, but in mind he is and always will be a douche. Besides, Calipari has a Butch Davis smell about him — my gut tells me we were better off without him…

  2. tvp1 03/11/2011 at 1:52 PM #


  3. rtpack24 03/11/2011 at 2:10 PM #

    Calipari has coached 3 D-1 schools, two were put on probation and had their wins vacated. The NCAA is covered up with violations at schools but I believe are still investigating Eric Bledsoe and his recruitment to Ky so I believe Coach Cal is not far from going 3 for 3. We should have never even talked to the guy.

  4. anonimus 03/11/2011 at 2:12 PM #

    I personally don’t get this Wolfpack love affair with Sean Miller. Yes, I see the numbers and they don’t lie. He’s done well but I don’t know that it translates. Maybe my glass is half full of the bitter tears of the late 90’s with him as a key cog in the Sendek wood chopping machine. I believe he was still on staff in the infamous meltdown year (00-01) as well. I’d rather Yow go elsewhere.

  5. gotohe11carolina 03/11/2011 at 2:25 PM #

    the problem is that we’re a year to late to get much of anyone. most of the hot coaches have moved on to other programs, i.e. sean miller to arizona, anthony grant to uga, etc. much as i hate to say it there doesn’t seem to be any up and coming coaches that look really promising this year. does that mean we should stick with sid again, probably not, but i’d rather be tied to him for one year (with the possibility that he could bring back some of the kids from this years team) than be saddled with another half-ass hire for four to five again.

  6. Daily Update 03/11/2011 at 2:31 PM #

    93: you are wrong about cal and our job. The only quotes from him say the exact opposite.

  7. stejen 03/11/2011 at 2:54 PM #

    I believe Miller left State before the 2001 season. I personally believe the beginning of the end for Sendek was when Larry Hunter left for WCU.
    Also, if I remember correctly. Calipari thought he could recruit academic non-qualifiers (or whatever the term is) and State had to tell him the ACC does not allow the signing of these players so he went back to Memphis where he can sign the at-risk players and then to Ky.

  8. Wolfy__79 03/11/2011 at 3:32 PM #

    i still feel that calapari would have gotten us into trouble. if he’s beating unc or duke.. you better believe they will work all angles to put us down. however, calapari is a winner and a greaseball snake oil salesman. imo, he would have won and killed us at the same time. he’s at kentucky and that’s the perfect place for him. note this same savior lost to unc in kentucky this year!

    the more i think of possible coaches, sean miller is still a front runner for me. i don’t know if he’s out of reach (likely) but i would like to have him. ..or someone like him.

  9. Chucks Chesticles 03/11/2011 at 3:36 PM #

    Wait, UCLA is on the same level as Duke, UNC, and Kansas??? Wow, I am misinformed…

  10. Daily Update 03/11/2011 at 3:52 PM #

    This is for wolfpack93 to read.


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The vote had been taken. It was unanimous. John Calipari was leaving. He was going to accept the NC State job.
    Every assistant on the private jet flying through the spring night in 2006 from Memphis to Raleigh had his hand up. Assistant John Robic, who had been with Calipari at UMass, voted with his leg. It was their way of assuring the coach that they would all make the move to the new school with him.

    John Calipari has had a rocky road at Memphis, but it is getting smoother as he’s turned the Tigers into a national championship caliber team.

    “Yeah, we were gone,” Calipari said last Friday as he ate fried chicken in one of his many spots along Beale Street, within eyesight of the FedEx Forum.

    Calipari was enticed by NC State’s commitment to the program, the financial considerations for his staff, and the challenge of facing the blue bloods at Duke and North Carolina.

    Meanwhile, the Memphis Tigers were coming off an Elite Eight run ultimately ended by UCLA. It was the last game of Calipari’s sixth year at Memphis in what had been a bumpy ride to resuscitate a once nationally known program.

    “The thing I can tell you about coaching is that we make decision and career moves when your nerves and emotions are still raw, right after the season,” Calipari said last Friday. “It’s the worst profession for that. Other professions, they have time to sit back and process and logically make a decision. … Emotionally, we don’t have a chance to decompress, to make a good decision. Thankfully, people got involved in the decision.”

    When Calipari flew back with his staff, he took a midnight walk with the Memphis team minister along the golf course where Calipari resides. He later spoke with some of his new influential friends at FedEx.
    “The NC State thing was the most emotional thing we’ve been through here,” said Calipari’s wife, Ellen.

  11. Go Army 89 03/11/2011 at 3:56 PM #

    Calipari is cheater. He leaves a wake of probation everywhere he goes. He would not be a good fit at State. We seem to take the rules very seriously. Now when Roy leaves or has a frickin stroke, Cal would be a great fit for the Heels. They have shown recently that they will allow coaches to recruit non-student athletes and basically thumb their noses at the NCAA or anyone else who dares challenge them.

  12. Wolfy__79 03/11/2011 at 4:05 PM #

    by him not taking the offer, it felt like he used us. i don’t believe a word that man says!

    “the nc state thing” ? his princeton on roids would have gotten us a sanction or two. his definition of recruiting doesn’t have limits.. he is really good at recruiting but who wouldn’t be w/out any rules.

  13. Wolfy__79 03/11/2011 at 4:07 PM #

    i really don’t see sean miller in the same light as calamari? should i?

  14. Daily Update 03/11/2011 at 4:11 PM #

    ^In the same light as they both don’t see limits on their abilities as a coach.

  15. Wolfpack93 03/11/2011 at 4:18 PM #

    @DU: Sorry, perhaps I was basing my information off a less than reputable news source? http://bit.ly/gPsWGK

  16. Packfan28 03/11/2011 at 4:27 PM #

    Off topic a bit, but here is a link to Miller’s current contract. Lots of incentives, but nothing we can’t meet or beat. Only a $500K buyout clause.


    There is a link in the article to the actual contract.

  17. wayofthemaster 03/11/2011 at 6:25 PM #
  18. Wulfpack 03/11/2011 at 6:56 PM #

    You can poke holes in nearly any potential candidate’s resume. Miller is probably the best young guy out there, and he has a strong connection to NCSU. If there is any way to get him, do it now!

  19. john of sparta 03/11/2011 at 7:02 PM #

    ECU (with their first-year coach) plays Memphis tonight.
    point: there are plenty of really good coaches to be had.
    please, MS Yow, pick one before Monday.

  20. wolfie91 03/11/2011 at 7:52 PM #

    wufpack, you are right about poking holes in pretty much every candidate. no guarantees about anyone. but i like miller too. not going to be surprised if he doesn’t come here, but hopefully we’ll at least ask.

  21. 61Packer 03/11/2011 at 7:52 PM #

    Lebo? God forbid.

  22. anonimus 03/11/2011 at 8:53 PM #

    I pray Yow has more insight into potential hires than our fanbase seems to. Geez. Just like politics. Name recognition seems to be all it takes to get the vote. “Hey! I know that name! Yeah, he/she would be awesome!”

  23. gtspack 03/11/2011 at 9:13 PM #

    I think the other Miller (Archie) would be the perfect fit for us. He is doing great as an assistant coach at the ohio state university. I hear he is awesome at recruiting. He would also be the $steal$ of the century.

  24. choppack1 03/12/2011 at 8:28 AM #

    It would definitely shock the world if Miller left ‘Zona for State.

    He, Barnes and Dixon are the first 3 guys I’d reach out to.

    However, State fans need to understand something. Money will only be a factor. Both Arizona and Texas and probably Pitt can match what we’re going to throw at these guys. There’s going to have to be something else going on…a desire to live in Raleigh, a desire to defang the bullies in our block, a wife who doesn’t like the city she lives in, crappy schools, a lousy relationship w/ an AD, a perceived lack of respect/slight that the coach has kept to himself.

    I actually think that Dixon or Barnes is more likely than Miller simply because Miller is still early in his tenure in Arizona. He’s still a golden boy over there and I’m sure the fans there are thrilled w/ quickly he’s gotten that program straightened out.

  25. wolfmanmat 03/12/2011 at 9:23 AM #

    NC state is a good job. However, this isn’t the NCState job of the 1970’s. We have been non-factors for the last 20 years and since then Duke and UNC have passed out program by miles. Duke and UNC ain’t going anywhere either. So, when our fans say we want Jamie Dixon/Sean Miller/Rick Barnes, we have to remember, do these guys want us? IMO Dixon may not have a better job at Pitt, but it’s a much easier job and he’s established there. Barnes may not have a better job, but again, it’s easier and he’s established a top program there. Sean Miller has a better job(sorry guys, Zona’s job is equal or better than NCSU). As State fans, if we truly look at our current program versus Pitt/Zona/Texas, we aren’t that much better of a job. Obviously we are a better job than Memphis, who is CUSA. Where Fowler screwed up(okay, not the only place he screwed up, but one of many) was going after big time coaches in a public manner. I hope Yow will approach these guys, but not the same way Lee did, because it is unlikely that any of them leave very similar jobs with established programs to come to NCState.

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