Is he gone? Maryland expected to lure Sean Miller from UA

The University of Arizona, and probably most of Tucson, awaits the outcome of a meeting today between the athletic director at the University of Maryland and their rock-star head basketball coach, Sean Miller.

In just the past couple of days, Miller has moved from being one of a small handful of potential replacements for Maryland’s long-time basketball coach, Gary Williams, to the favorite to get the offer.  Williams unexpectedly retired last Thursday after 22 years.

(*Update:  Relax, Wildcat fans…Arizona AD Greg Byrne has announced that Miller agreed yesterday to a contract extension.)

Official reports out of the university say there are still multiple options being considered.  However, various media outlets are predicting that Miller will be offered the job.  ESPN radio in Maryland supposedly went as far as to confirm that Miller will be named the new head coach.

The original list of big-name considerations included Mike Brey from Notre Dame, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, and Jay Wright from Villanova.  The list seemed to narrow to Miller and Brey, who attended George Washington University and whose family has long ties to the D.C. area.  The Maryland job has reportedly been Brey’s  ‘dream job’ and likely the only opportunity that would pull him away from the Irish.

And, just to stir the pot a little, Tubby Smith was rumored ready to leave his position at Minnesota and picked up a couple of key endorsements for the Maryland job.

Like Brey, Miller also has ties to the East and the ACC Conference.  He was born in Western Pennsylvania and was an assistant coach at North Carolina State.  And he has had extensive, and very successful, experience with recruiting the area.

If Miller does jump ship after just two seasons in Tucson, he won’t be leaving the cupboard bare for his successor.  The program lost Derrick Williams to the NBA draft, but the 2011 recruiting class has been ranked among the top five nationally, and Miller has managed to restore the lustre of the UofA basketball tradition with a trip to the Elite Eight this year.

That will make future recruiting an easier task than the one he inherited, just a couple of years after the forced resignation of coaching legend, Lute Olson.  The new guy will be the fifth UofA head coach in the last six years.

Of course, the new guy would also have to talk the elite recruiting class he inherited into staying at Arizona, rather than picking up and following Miller to Maryland.

Meanwhile, Maryland would offer Miller another rebuilding job, following reconstruction jobs at Xavier and Arizona, but not to the same extent.  Maryland failed to make it to the NCAA Tournament last season and also lost Jordan Williams to the NBA draft.  But the tradition of excellence that Williams built is still there, and there is also the 2002 national championship to provide a powerful recruiting tool.

But Arizona, too, offers great tradition and its own national championship.  Miller’s agreement to meet with Maryland officials could also be the usual posturing that coaches do when they want more from their current school.  Miller was guaranteed a two-year extension when he signed on in Tucson, which he is expected to receive before summer.  He has also been petitioning for increased salaries for his staff, and a few other additional perks.

Miller’s meeting with Maryland AD Kevin Anderson today in Las Vegas, where Miller is taking part in a Nike Coaches Clinic, reportedly went well.

So now the waiting begins in Tucson, where a lot of basketball fans are holding their collective breath.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics/Patti Ota)