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COLUMN: Stop calling for Archie Miller’s job

Archie Miller watches his team in an exhibition game against Southern Indiana. (Mark Timko/HN)

In 2001, Jay Wright was hired as the head coach of Villanova basketball. He took over the program after an 18-13 season and a first round loss in the NIT under the leadership of Steve Lappas.

In the three years that followed, Wright took Villanova to three more NIT’s. In the 14 years that followed, Wright’s Wildcats made 13 NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours, and won two National Championships.

In 2009, the University of Virginia hired Tony Bennett to be its head coach. In Bennett’s first two seasons, the Cavaliers went 31-31. In the seven years that followed, the Cavaliers made six NCAA Tournaments and won two ACC Tournaments.

In 2011, the University of Dayton hired Archie Miller to be the head coach of the school’s basketball team. In his first two years, the Flyers went 37-27. Four years later, the Flyers had made four NCAA Tournaments and won two Atlantic-10 titles.

In 2019, Miller sits at the helm of one of the most historic programs in college basketball. In his second season as the head coach, the Hoosiers appear to be meddling into mediocrity with five straight losses. With each loss more frustrating than the last, fans have noticeably grown agitated.

But, why?

Entering the 2018-2019 season, there was a noticeable level of optimism surrounding Indiana Basketball. The expectations that surrounded the program were set from the very beginning by Indiana’s captain Juwan Morgan.

Morgan appeared on the March Madness 365 podcast with Andy Katz prior to the season. When asked what it will take for Indiana to make the NCAA tournament, Morgan answered simply.

“There is no if,” Morgan said. “We will.”

At the time, the expectation felt warranted. Now, it feels drastic.

The drastic feeling that surrounds this assertion comes with the understanding that it allowed fans to get their hopes up. It established a precedent for rash thinking. It established a reason to be frustrated with anything less than a tournament appearance without looking at the reality of a situation.

As easy as it might be to grow angry and project malice towards Indiana’s head coach, it is incredibly egregious to not consider the reality of the situation.

Right now, Indiana is currently hamstrung to a realistic rotation of six basketball players.

Indiana has one legitimate ball handler that comes in the form of freshman point guard Rob Phinisee.

Indiana has one true big man in Juwan Morgan.

Juwan Morgan Indiana Basketball

Juwan Morgan registered just the second triple-double in Indiana basketball history Saturday night. (Mark Timko/HN)

Alongside those two, the Hoosiers have freshman Romeo Langford who is left to carry a majority of the offensive responsibility, sophomore Al Durham, unpredictable sophomore forward Justin Smith, and an offensive liability in senior walk-on Zach McRoberts.

That is it.

Devonte Green is suspended. Evan Fitzner lacks confidence to be effective. De’Ron Davis has rarely been healthy. Damezi Anderson isn’t ready for Big Ten basketball. Clifton Moore has been okay in short bursts. Jerome Hunter is out for the season. Race Thompson has missed the majority of the season and was just cleared for basketball activity.

How is that a roster that is expected to compete in the Big Ten?

It’s appalling to consider how quickly people are willing to throw out blame for a situation that isn’t a result of Miller’s actions. Indiana’s head coach didn’t intentionally hurt half his roster. Miller has only been left to work with a limited rotation of talent that only includes two players in which he recruited.

How can anyone reasonably expect a coach to win in this scenario?

When Miller was hired in 2017, it should have been obvious what fans were signing up for.

Miller runs a system that requires versatility and length. He runs a system that is focused on defensive output and without the athletes need to run that system, struggles are inevitable.

Hiring Miller meant signing up for patience. The same patience that was offered to Wright, Bennett, and Miller at Dayton.

Miller wasn’t hired for 2019. Miller was hired for 2021. Miller was hired to recruit top talent that fit his system, develop that talent, and find success. He wasn’t hired to turn water into wine.

Feel free to judge Indiana when it fields a lineup of Rob Phinisee with another year of experience, Keion Brooks, Jerome Hunter, Justin Smith, and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Don’t judge Indiana now.

I am a senior from Long Island, New York. I’m currently studying Marketing in the Kelley School of Business along with Journalism in The Media School at Indiana University. I want to tell stories and help others tell their own. I want to provide a unique perspective. Most importantly, I want to entertain. The Hoosier Network is the ideal place to do that. Follow me on twitter @EdwardKoton15 Email me at Please, pretty please, venmo me at @EdwardKoton


  • Ed says:

    Whose calling for his job? That’s would be ridiculous and certainly not an IU fan.

  • George Hook says:

    He’s losing and when he does, it looks bad.
    Did he have these “injury problems” when his team lost to the Fort Wayne Matadors at Assembly Hall in 2017? Now, their flaccid play is getting a pass? If he doesn’t make the NIT this year, then he should be on the hot seat.

    • IUJeff says:

      Ridiculous. The B1G is the toughest conference in the country. That means almost every coach is elite and has attracted matching talent. Archie needs more time. Injuries have killed any hope for this season as we now have zero depth. With zero injuries we’d still be mid pack given the shortcomings of the players he inherited. We have a dearth of talent after Juwan, Rob, Romeo and Al. Archie is in year 1.5. Be a fan. Not a jack wagon.

  • Tom says:

    Funny how it is never Archie’s fault. Last year Ohio state hired a coach that made a plan for the players he had. Not what he was recruiting. Snd the had a great year under a new coach new system without a 4 year grace period. Dont say but they had blah blah blah because they had blah blah blah the year before and finished below IU. It was the coach coaching the talent. He had making a plan for the players he had . Until he can get his type of players for his scheme. Not expecting Juniors and seniors to switch to the only style he could coach I.E. Archie Miller. Iu has not got better they are the same. Cant shoot the 3 cant gaurd the 3 and get beat by 1 player. Are you kidding me . I’m not sure why anyone wants to settle for Mediocrity.

  • Michael says:

    I’m not calling for Archie’s job but here are some things that don’t make sense to me that I blame on Archie:
    – Why can’t Langford shoot the three yet? Even Vonleh had a decent 3pt shot halfway thru the season and Crean was developing plays for him to take it
    – Why does Clifton Moore still look like Andy in Toy Story? He should have put on some muscle and weight by now in his 2nd season
    – Why is it a 6-man rotation with all playing minutes in the mid-30s? This is not sustainable in Big Ten from a fatigue standpoint or a foul trouble standpoint. Izzo would be developing his young talent for challenges in the future (Anderson, Forrester, Blackmon) and yes Blackmon can shoot the 3 something we are lacking

    • IUJeff says:

      Did you read the article? We have 4 good basketball players. 2 freshman 1 sophomore and Juwan. Get a clue. Stop piling on our program during this rebuild.

      • Anonymous says:

        Here we are Feb 20 with yet another loss to “the mighty Boilermakers” which pains me to say. I’m just curious if you still have this same stance? The HOOSIERS tallied 46pts and I keep hearing that the defense has gotten better. I dont see it and have always been a believer that attitude reflects leadership and I see neither with this IU team. This team has a lottery pick, a potential 2nd rd pick and should be able to beat the likes of Nebraska and Rutgers. I love IU basketball, and know switching coaches is always tuff on a program, but when is it enough?

        • George Hook says:

          Their defense is mediocre to good. But their coaching is terrible. Archie Miller took out Davis with 4 minutes left in the Purdue game, after Davis had harassed and banged Haarms all night, and Davis hardly saw the court for the rest of the game. And who scores the winning basket? The evil Haarms, to the embarrassment of IU fans who had profanely been calling for his head all night. It was one of the worst coaching decisions I’ve ever seen; and (correct me if I’m wrong) I’ve seen no explanation for it; but regardless, I’m going to continually remind backers of Archie Miller about this terrible decision as well as the Fort Wayne Mastodons/Indiana State debacles until I see something substantial to wipe it from my memory.

          • Riley Johnson says:

            Billboard on 37…..


            Do the right thing.

            – Hoosier Nation

            about sums it up

  • Tim says:

    A lot of what you said is accurate. There is no question that Archie deserves more time to establish his vision with more of his recruits. Injuries have absolutely not helped the team’s fortunes this season. But here’s my issue. Injuries and lack of continuity from early NBA departures, transfers, etc. were a major part of Tom Crean’s last couple of years. The majority of fans who had clamored for Crean’s firing for several years did not allow the injuries or departures to excuse any of the team’s struggles even when the 2016-17 team played a chunk of the season without four of its six best players (Blackmon, Anunoby, Hartman and Morgan all missed significant time). I was not blind to the pitfalls of Crean’s basketball schemes. There were some maddening struggles (turnovers, defensive breakdowns). But after three truly rebuilding years, Crean recruited and led three of IU’s four best teams in a 20+ year span (2002 notwithstanding). IU had reached exactly one Sweet 16 since 1994 (during the 2002 National Runner-up finish). Crean achieved that mark three times in a five year span, but was peculiarly laughed at. The fans essentially forced Crean’s firing one year removed from being named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. He didn’t win big enough or consistently enough, but I knew at the time of Archie’s hiring that fans were in for a reality check. Archie did a fine job at Dayton. He won the conference a couple of times and made an impressive Elite 8 run.
    Competing in the Atlantic Ten is far different than competing in the Big Ten though. Simply projecting that a coach “will do so much more at a larger school because he did so much with less at a smaller school” is a flawed thought. There are so many other variables. Archie has turned the tide with the recruiting in Indiana, an area that Crean had largely given up on by the end of his time.
    Will the on-court results follow? That remains to be seen. Fans who irrationally believed that Archie is light years better than Crean have been given a reality check, something I warned them about nearly two years ago.

    • IUJeff says:

      Crean won when the players like Jordy, Cody, Christian etc had better b-ball-IQ than he did. Once guys figured that out, they stopped coming. He was an absolute hot mess running that fast sloppy O, no D playing streetball and needed to go. IU will be fine under Archie once he gets his guys. He is still dealing with the leftovers that are ALL incomplete players at either one or both ends of the court. Exceot for Juwan the cupboard was barren.

  • Kyle says:

    This article sounds like it was written by someone who didn’t play enough basketball to understand the importance of a coach in a team’s attitude/chemistry.

    Archie is the kind of coach whose low-energy Hoosiers (his problem to fix, btw) get smacked by Northwestern, Nebraska, […] Indiana State, and IPFW, and concludes in the postgame that he’s “proud” of his guys for the “way they fought in there,” even though they clearly didn’t fight. At all. No tenacity. That’s what doesn’t belong at Indiana. It’s about HOW you lose.

    Did Bennet’s guys walk back on defense after turnovers and still start? Ever? Doubtful, my guy. Archie says “Indiana is who I am,” but he doesn’t actually know who Indiana is.

  • there is no defense and no energy also sloppy play everybody is to blame even the fans. the fans don’t get in the game enough to get them going everybody is just lazy.

  • Benjamin Montgomery says:

    The last three Dayton coaches, including Miller, were successful. Regular NCAA and NIT participates. Because Dayton has great resources and following for a Mid-Major. But Miller’s predecessors failed at Clemson and Georgia Tech because at those schools the coaches competed with programs with equal or better funding and fan support. They failed in that environment, as Miller will at IU.

  • Bobby G says:

    It’s seems as if IU basketball is destined for mediocrity at best due to the selection of the last two coaches. The similarity of bad coaching decisions and lack of competency between Crean and Miller are eerily scary. Most noticeable and In my humble opinion the most telling of both are that they lack the ability to make half/time adjustments which is truly a measure of any coach in any sport. I for one have seen enough of Miller and hopefully Glass will pull the trigger much quicker than he did with Crean.

  • Bobby G says:

    The true measure of any couch in any sport is the ability to make halftime adjustments It seems as if IU is destined for mediocrity by the selection of the last two coaches who both have shown a total lack of competency in this regard I can only hope that Glass pulls the trigger much quicker with Archie than he did with that dancing clown on the sidelines I for one have seen enough of Miller who eerily reminds me of his predecessor

  • Paul Fitz says:

    Let’s be fair, Archie isn’t very good and has done nothing to help get Romeo good shots. He was a bad hire when Glass got him and he will continue to be a bad hire as long as he is here.

  • Anonymous says:

    Regardless of the circumstances if a team is not winning the coach is always the one who takes the most heat.
    I am sure that Archie understands that very well and Fred Glass does to.
    Archie won’t be fired this year but if he has a third straight season with a losing record there will be a huge amount of pressure to replace him by the alumni who support the university in a major financial way. It’s one thing not to win conference championships or get into post season but it would be a very major issue to go through three seasons without at least a winning record.

  • Bob Buchanan says:

    Mr Miller if you look at the taped games this year you were winning when we were a moving offense working and passing the ball. When we started losing we were standing not working the ball, a moving offense, letting 1 person dribble trying to brake the defense down . You don’t need so many set plays it slows the motion down. I watch almost all of IU ‘s games and I can tell when you are going to lose 10 minutes in the first half . Your a good coach keep the guys moving.

  • Bob says:

    Mr Miller after this season is over may I please meet with you .

  • Brett says:

    hey uh brooks isnt coming so do you put green in his spot?? and justin smith is GARBAGE!!

  • Ron says:

    First of all, to question Archie Miller as a coach does not mean you ‘re not an IU fan. People say he doesn’t have the talent to win now and to give him more time . Maybe so, but he’s got enough talent that they should not be blown out at home by Nebraska. At HOME? To NEBRASKA? C’mon! And they shouldn’t be losing to Michigan 17-0 after 10 minutes at Assembly Hall. Or losing to Rutgers. As far as injuries, guess what? Every team has them . IU’s core players, Morgan, Langford, Smith didn’t miss many games. I know they need some more quality players, but is this a team that should be losing 12 of 13 games in mid season, and to have one NIT appearance in two years? Remember how bad the program that Tom Crean inherited in 2008-09 was. They couldn’t beat a good high school team . The program Miller inherited, while admittedly not a top 25 team, wasn’t any where close to that level. Miller’s going into his third season now and if a coach can’t get IU into the NCAA tourney by then, good riddance.

  • Hugh G Rection says:

    Miller’s coaching style with 6 minutes to go: ‘Cut it to 12…then we can cut to to 10…then single digits…we can stop em. Don’t be afraid to shoot’
    – overheard on hot mic in huddle

  • Al says:

    We are 10-1 so far but that’s mostly against mediocre teams. With that line up of talents, a great coach can turn that into a Top 5 NCAA team in the nation. But Coach Miller will be lucky to mold them into what they could be or should be. They’d be lucky to make it to Sweet 16 this year and I won’t even bet on it. Yes we have a mediocre coach who will turn a good line up of talents into a mediocre team. Wake up!

  • Anonymous says:

    Fire that asshat!
    In 3 years I have not seen the first adjustment to the opposition’s strategy on the court. We have a munchkin in a suit that is over his head.
    Take Fred Glass with him.

    No dance again

  • Chuck says:

    You said in your last line don’t judge til now.
    I’m judging and I’m not impressed.

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