As Nebraska officially closed the book on an up-and-down and overall frustrating 2016-17 regular season on Sunday night, the focus quickly shifted to one of the most debated topics currently surrounding Husker athletics.
With Nebraska’s 93-57 drubbing by Michigan on Senior Night, head coach Tim Miles, who just posted his lowest regular-season win total (12) during his time in Lincoln, has now recorded losing records in four of five seasons with the Huskers.
As a result, many around the fan base have been clamoring for a coaching change, and that feeling hasn't been stronger than following NU’s worst home loss in program history on Sunday night.
Miles was only a couple minutes into his post-game press conference when the question about his job security came up.
“I’m not worried about my job,” Miles responded. “I’m worried about coaching these guys and getting us better. My administrators have supported me the whole time and have been there to support us, whether it be at the games or at practice. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about getting this team’s butts in gear. That’s really what we have to do.”
The discussion then shifted to what all has gone wrong to turn a team that started 3-0 in Big Ten play into one that has now lost its past four games by 15 points or more.
Miles pointed to the physical and emotional wear and tear of playing a strength of schedule that currently ranks as the sixth most difficult in the country.
Then there was the fact that Nebraska played that schedule with a roster that ended up looking much different than Miles and his staff had originally planned.
First it was losing leading scorer Andrew White, who suddenly transferred Syracuse in June and now leads the Orange at 17.9 points per game.
Then junior Louisville transfer Anton Gill, who was expected to emerge as one of NU’s top scorers this year, suffered a season-ending knee injury on Christmas night.
On top of that, the Huskers went seven games without sophomore forward Edward Morrow due to a foot injury. Nebraska went 1-6 during that stretch.
All of that, Miles said, combined for a hill that has just been too steep for his team to climb.
"Some of that was a lot to overcome, and I think it took an emotional toll,” Miles said. “We’ve let that settle in now. I’ve tried to meet with the guys individually on a regular basis over the last six, seven games and hear them out, hear their frustrations.
“But I’m a little upset that we weren’t more competitive tonight and allowed, like I said, that - whether it be a feel sorry for yourself or a ‘here we go again’ type of mentality to creep in. You can’t allow that in life.
“Where can do that in life and be successful? It just doesn’t work that way. We just have to get that out of them, one way or another. I don’t know where that’s acceptable in anything you do. If it was a boyfriend/girlfriend situation, who would want to be around that guy? I mean, my God.”
Following Nebraska’s loss to Michigan State on Feb. 23, sophomore forward Michael Jacobson made the comment that the Huskers had already tried yelling at each other and also tried being overly supportive to break out of their funk, and that he wasn’t sure what more could be said.
Miles was asked if he felt his players had done everything they could to dig themselves out of their latest slump.
“They haven’t tried hard enough,” Miles said. “That’s all I have to say. They have not tried hard enough. Because what was out there was not a team that was competitive and trying hard enough.”