A number of headlines came with Indiana’s 2017-2018 basketball schedule release yesterday, and you can perhaps pick the one you’d like to get mad about thanks to Jim Delany’s bending-over-backwards to moving the Big Ten Tournament to Madison Square Garden. Rest days will be limited, Indiana gets a stupid onslaught of early December games, we’re playing on Monday and Friday — all for a conference tournament that will likely have the cavernous, lonely feel of playing in an airport hangar at lunchtime. Excuse me, a very prestigious airport hangar.
Lots perhaps in some of those headlines? Archie Miller won’t be getting his much made-fun-of scheduling bonus for the 2017-18 season. Indiana provided Miller a provision in his contract to permit such an $125,000 yearly bonus if the new coach could avoid sub-300 RPI teams (a go-to for any Tom Crean mid-December slate) from the previous season on the non-conference schedule. It wasn’t new news on Wednesday, as both USF and Howard sat below that mark last season and were named to the schedule previously. Herald-Times beat writer and friend of the blog Mike Miller caught this on Wednesday:
As we learned earlier, Archie Miller will not receive his $125k scheduling bonus. Booked two sub-300 RPI teams: Howard, USF. #iubb— Mike Miller (@MikeMillerHT) August 16, 2017
Miller’s bonus was widely panned by many at the time it came out. Why should an athletic director provide a bonus to coach to not do something? You’re the boss! If you don’t want something done, saying so should be enough! Seems stupid! That argument’s totally fine in our ideal world where coaches aren’t the most prominent and highest paid employees in about every state in the nation. It also, well, isn’t realistic.
Despite Archie’s lipservice to his beliefs about tough scheduling, few coaches would view a blanket restriction on scheduling sub-300 opponents as a positive. Assembling a schedule can be hard to do, especially for new coaching staff coming to a new program. Much like coaches have to recruit talented players, schools have to recruited talented coaches. If this little extra incentive was the moral compromise needed to lure Miller instead of, say, Steve Alford, it was well worth it.
Good candidates dictate better terms than bad ones, and the extra cash is fine. Indiana’s already paying well-below market rate for Miller if it considers itself a peer of programs like Kentucky and Duke, and an extra $125,000 is sand on the beach when it comes to the still-giant pile of cash Miller will receive over the course of his contract in Bloomington. Indiana’s hilariously grotesque home schedule was a major sticking point for fans during the Crean era, and if this works to fix it, so be it.
But, as this year should show, it’ll probably be harder for Miller to get that extra little bump than you’d think.