Miller and Xavier coach Chris Mack were the first two brought up last week. The rumors about Miller and Florida have slowed some this week, but the 36-year-old still makes a lot of sense on paper.
The first thing that jumps out about the Dayton coach is that he checks off a lot of the boxes Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has targeted with other openings in the past. Before hiring Jim McElwain as the football coach, Foley has targeted mostly young, up-and-comers in the profession. Sometimes that entails head coaching experience and other times it hasn’t, but youth is usually something he wants in a head coach. Miller has that, but he also has four years of experience as the head coach at Dayton.
Recruiting is another key aspect of what Foley usually targets, and Miller has an impressive background with it. He has seven years of experience as an assistant at power-five programs -- Arizona, Arizona State, North Carolina State and Ohio State -- before getting the head job at Dayton.
At those stops, Miller learned about recruiting some of the elite coaches in the country, getting experience under respected coaches like Thad Matta, Herb Sendek and Sean Miller, Archie’s brother. At Dayton, Miller has signed nine players in his last three recruiting classes. Eight of them were three-star players and one of them was a four-star.
The pedigree means something, too. Just because Miller’s older brother is doing well at Arizona doesn’t mean the younger Miller would also be a star at a major program, but their experience working together means the younger has seen what it takes to be successful. He’s also proving he can have big success at a school that doesn’t have the resources he would potentially have in Gainesville or at a power program.
The most desirable part of what Miller brings to a program is his ability to get the most out of his team. In his third season at Dayton, he took the program to its first Sweet 16 in 30 years. That team put Dayton and Miller on the national college basketball map, beating Kansas to advance to an Elite Eight matchup against Billy Donovan and Florida. The Gators would advance, but Miller’s star in the coaching industry was beginning to grow.
What happened during the 2014-15 season was also impressive. The Flyers fell one win short of another Sweet 16, but they did so with two big men being kicked off the team in December. Miller’s team was down to six scholarship players and didn’t have anyone over 6-6 on the floor. Still, Miller coached Dayton to the NCAA Tournament and a 27-9 record.
To find a drawback to Miller, you have to search hard. Most of his players at Dayton were from up north, so maybe recruiting in the southeast would take him some time for him to get back in the groove. The truth is that good coaches know how to make that happen fast, and Miller appears to be that.
Foley hit the jackpot when he hired Donovan 19 years ago. His long tenure in Gainesville makes it difficult to lock down what Foley could be targeting in this search because he hasn’t needed to find a men’s basketball coach in a long time. Miller does make perfect sense across the board if that’s a route Foley would like to go.