Mar 21, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller reacts to an officials call in the second half of the game against the Belmont Bruins during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
The Pac-12 Conference has a problem to solve and it’s been getting more and more complicated. Arizona, forever a premier basketball program within the conference, had been the “target” of in-conference officials according to several reports released last month. Of course most of the idea was centered around the Ed Rush fiasco, but you got the feeling Arizona as a program felt slighted besides that as well by the officials themselves.
Now we have some more info on that, as a detailed report has come out by USA Today about documents that had told of this situations’ coming over the entire second half of the season. Ed Rush and Arizona just hadn’t had the most cordial of relationships after Sean Miller berated officials in the loss the UCLA early in the conference season and sent a request of 21 incidents for review by Rush of officiating calls during that game. To save time, here’s a snippet of the article’s findings:
"The documents show Arizona officials felt relations between Miller and Rush were strained before the conference tournament. Among the e-mails was Miller’s request, sent by Arizona’s director of basketball operations Ryan Reynolds, for Rush’s review of 21 sequences from Arizona’s loss March 2 at UCLA. Rush questioned the number of issues raised by Miller and wrote that only two were missed calls. He dismissed most of the others with brief notes, including: “???? Do not see YOUR point.”“Ed’s tone was condescending and one could assume that he was bothered by the request,” Byrne wrote March 17, noting it was “only the second time that we had brought an officiating call issue to Ed … and isn’t it part of Ed’s job to be the middle man between the officials and our coaches/programs? If this is the response Sean/we get when we bring an issue forward to Ed it does not give us a lot of confidence that we will be constructively listened to in the future.”In his reply, Scott wrote: “I do not believe Ed was trying to be condescending with Ryan, and I will address his style with him to work on improvement in this area. He tells me he reached out to Coach Miller personally via telephone after the referenced e-mail exchange, and did not get a return phone call.”Miller’s previous reprimandThe documents include a previously issued private letter of reprimand to Miller dated Jan. 11, 2013, for a postgame incident after Arizona’s loss at Oregon the previous night. Scott wrote that Miller “confronted the game officials in the tunnel after the game,” complaining about a no-call on the final play, and that Miller’s actions “included pointing at the official and profanity.” The commissioner warned: “Please be aware that any further incidents … will result in enhanced penalties.”"
Looking back a minute, my first assessment of the whole situation, in which I concluded that there was more to the story from Miller’s side than was being told and likely ran back throughout the season, was pretty dead on. My next article pointing out that there’s a lot more to these coaches than you see or can conclude by watching on the tv or even being at the game, is pretty solid as well based on what we’re reading in this new report.
Twenty-one separate sequences Miller challenged, two had any validity (according to Rush’s review). This suggests a personal issue with the officials in question and is incessantly over the top. There’s a phrase used by referees to coaches who argue about everything, “pick your battles coach.” This obviously is an issue that stems beyond just a game and again, puts Miller’s attitude towards the officials at the forefront of the situation, regardless of what you are seeing as a fan. A “profanity laced” attack of officials in the hallway after a game is just unnecessary. The fact that Arizona backed up that kind of method is worse.
I realize he’s just trying to win and is expected to win and is under a ton of pressure to perform nightly, but unless it’s clear there was a personal attack on you as a coach, you have to reign in your emotions. And then to not return attempts by the conference to contact you about the situation that you brought up… it just has the tint of vendetta.
At any rate, it becomes more and more clear why Rush wasn’t exactly cordial in his assessment towards Miller before the Pac-12 Tournament. This will continue to be an issue until it’s resolved by the investigation that will be taking place, supposedly by June. It’s an interesting and unfortunate situation for the conference image. We’ll see how it all shakes out moving forward, but one thing’s for sure; Arizona and Sean Miller have an image issue between the conference and themselves that won’t be soon resolved. Hopefully this isn’t a serious issue as the season unfolds in 2013/2014.
I really do hope for the best in this, I think Sean Miller is a terrific coach in and for the conference and his passion to win is welcome.