One of the news stories I neglected during IU's NCAA Tournament run was the firing of Indiana women's basketball coach Felicia Leggette-Jack. I was on vacation when the story broke, and with all the NCAA excitement I never got to it. I suppose it's emblematic of the problems with IU women's basketball that it hasn't come up over the last three weeks. Coach Jack began relatively strong, qualifying for the WNIT in her first three seasons, but the program has been in steady decline, culminating in a 6-25/1-15 record in 2011-12. Fred Glass has now filled the vacancy by hiring Curt Miller, who spent 11 seasons at the head coach at Bowling Green, his alma mater.
I'll admit that I had never heard of Miller until an hour ago, but his resume is very impressive. As I mentioned above, Miller has been at BGSU since 2001, and he has a fantastic record. Miller has a career record of 258-92 (73 percent) and a MAC record of 135-41 (76 percent). Bowling Green has won a division title, a regular season conference title, and/or the MAC Tournament in each of the past eight seasons. Miller led the Falcons to four NCAA Tournament bids, and in 2007, BGSU advanced to the Sweet 16 as a 7 seed with a win over 2 seed Vanderbilt. According to Miller's BGSU bio, linked above, BGSU was the first MAC team to advance to the Sweet 16.
As I said, I don't follow women's basketball to have any opinion on the hire other than based on what I have read today. Others who know the landscape better seem to be impressed. Dan Dakich, who was the men's coach at BGSU until 2007, says: "IU is hiring a GREAT basketball coach in Curt Miller.. Other than Urban Meyer.. he's the best coach I've been around." Lin Dunn, coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever and the head coach at Purdue when the Lady Boilers reached their first Final Four, says: "if IU is hiring Curt Miller..then they are sending message they are SERIOUS about women's basketball!" What I like about Miller's resume is that he isn't a "flavor of the month" hire. He isn't parlaying one nice NCAA Tournament performance into an upgrade. Miller has been at BGSU for a long time, and he's long past the point at which there is any issue of riding on a predecessor's coattails. That isn't to say he will succeed. IU has struggled to draw fans to women's games, and IU shares the state with Notre Dame and Purdue, two programs that have won the NCAA title and made multiple Final Four appearances in the last couple of decades. This looks like a very nice find by Fred Glass. One note of caution: Miller suffered a minor stroke last season, but it apparently kept him out of action for only a couple of weeks.
Time will tell, but this looks like a strong hire. Unquestionably, within the next four years or so we will know quite a bit about Fred Glass's legacy as athletic director. Glass inherited Tom Crean, but he now has hired a football coach, a men's soccer coach, and a women's basketball coach. Miller's hiring will be announced at a 4 p.m. press conference today.