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Kevin Schnepf, Published March 14 2012

Schnepf: Ex-Bison coach Miles could be moving up again

Fargo - It wasn’t long after Tim Miles left the Red River Valley when the man who hired him to coach college basketball in the Rocky Mountains had this to say: “I suspect we will have trouble hanging onto Tim … I think he is that good.”

Ever since he left North Dakota State in 2007, Tim Miles has proven he is that good.

It took him the last five years to rebuild a floundering program, but Miles has Colorado State playing today in its first NCAA Division I tournament since 2003.

And with that success, Miles is being mentioned as one of the candidates to become the next head coach at the University of Nebraska.

“You want a coach who leads Nebraska kids to the NCAA Tournament?” wrote Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star. “Well, it looks like Miles will do just that this season with the Rams, who have a roster featuring four Nebraskans and an RPI high enough to warrant an at-large bid.

“Of course, there’s the matter whether Miles can recruit Big Ten talent to Lincoln. But his outgoing personality, work ethic and values will be attractive to Osborne (athletic director Tom Osborne). Expect Miles’ phone to ring.”

Especially if Miles’ 11th-seeded team can knock off No. 6 seed Murray State today. Plus, Miles is the type of coach Nebraska is looking for – “someone who has built up a program,” according to Nebraska’s associate athletic director.

The kid from Doland, S.D., has a history of building up programs.

He did it at Mayville State, where he took the Comets to two NAIA national tournaments. He did it at Southwest Minnesota State, where he led the Mustangs to an NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearance.

He did it at NDSU, where during the strenuous transition to Division I, crafted a team (Woodside, Winkelman and Nelson) that not only knocked off the likes of Marquette and Wisconsin, but eventually reached the NCAA Tournament after Miles left for Colorado State.

Now Miles is doing it in Fort Collins – where he first struggled through 7-25 and 9-22 seasons. After that, Colorado State improved to 16-16 and played in the College Basketball Invitational – the same tournament the Bison played in Wednesday night with a game at Wyoming.

Last year, the Rams went 19-13 and played in the National Invitation Tournament. Now, they are in the Big Dance.

“I’m not speechless often, but just taking that whole journey has been incredible,” Miles told the Colorado press Sunday after the NCAA tournament field was announced.

The ladder the 45-year-old Miles has climbed the last 23 years would leave anybody speechless. From earning peanuts as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Mary in Bismarck to becoming Colorado State’s highest-paid coach with a salary that will increase to $750,000 next season is enough to leave anyone flabbergasted.

The next rung of the ladder could mean a salary of more than $1 million. Nebraska, which hasn’t won a men’s basketball conference championship since 1950, is hungry for a winner. It has already opened a $10 million practice facility and a new 16,000-seat arena is expected to open for the 2013-14 season.

If his phone rings, you can bet Tim Miles will listen.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or kschnepf@forumcomm.com

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