The last week has been a wild ride for the Arizona basketball team following ESPN’s report that Sean Miller was on a wiretap discussing a payment for DeAndre Ayton and Alzono Trier’s suspension for a failed PED test, it looked like the team would be without their head coach and two best players the rest of the way. Saturday against Oregon, Ayton played, but Miller and Trier were not available. Then they lost a key recruit due to the scandal and it seemed like only a matter of time before everything fell apart. And then it didn’t.
Not only did it not fall apart, but everything changed last night: Miller was back on the bench and Trier was back in the starting lineup after being reinstated, and Arizona won the Pac-12 title.
But the real fireworks didn’t come in the Wildcats 75-67 win over Stanford. They came before it in Sean Miller’s press conference to address the report. And dude definitely addressed it.
He said that he has “done nothing wrong,” that he’s “never knowingly violated NCAA rules,” that he has “never paid a recruit or prospect or their family or a representative to come to Arizona. I never have, and I never will.”
He also said that he’d “never even met or spoke” with sports agent Christian Dawkins until after Ayton committed to Arizona and that “Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory…There was no such conversation. These statements have damaged me, my family, the university, Deandre Ayton and his incredible family. The only attempted corrections by the original source of the media statements are still inaccurate and completely false.”
And this is where things get interesting. Because while ESPN has made corrections to their original report and in particular the timeline of when the phone calls were made, they’re not backing down. And neither is Miller. The school had his back yesterday as did a report from Sports Illustrated.
So either Miller is publicly lying about something that is on a wiretap or ESPN butchered this report and it’s wrong. Either way, someone is in serious trouble. And from the way Miller was fighting his yesterday, it wouldn’t be good enough to say that, well, I didn’t offer to pay for Ayton, it was actually about another recruit.
If you’re Miller, why would you stand up in front of everyone and then publicly lie about something when an FBI wiretap could prove you wrong? If that’s a last-ditch attempt to keep his job, it’s the worst attempt ever, because that will follow him the rest of his career. The kind of thing that destroys your coaching career.
I mean, if that happened, I’d say he’d never work again. Then again… maybe he could survive it, even if he got caught in THAT lie. Hell, Dave Bliss has been hired not once, not twice, not three times, but four times since encouraging players to lie and claim that a murdered teammate was a drug dealer at Baylor, so nothing is impossible. If that guy continues to get hired and hired over and over again, maybe there’s nothing you can get away with if you win enough games.
But Miller would have to either be so dumb or so desperate, and really both, to do something like that. And the University is backing him up on it. Either the reporter is nervous or Miller is insane. Nick Saban saying “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach” and then going to be the Alabama coach is one thing. Lying about a wiretap is next level. That’s Saban 2.0. Lying about what’s in a wiretap would be the most incredible, most ridiculous move ever.
If he is on tape talking about paying for Ayton, this would be the biggest bluff ever and for what? So he can coach a couple more games before it all comes out? Makes no sense. And if it did come out, how does he handle that? That’s when you have to drop Nyjer Morgan’s legendary “awwwwww, I gotta go” and then just bolt.
Or scream “LET’S PLAY SOME BASKETBALL” and run.
I’ve always said that if I was accused of something I didn’t do, I’d be screaming it from the rooftops and that’s exactly what Miller did yesterday. He’s all-in and the stakes couldn’t be higher. And no matter how this plays out, someone is serious trouble and will be wearing this for a very long time. Either the guy who did it, or the guy who reported he did it without having the facts straight or after getting screwed by a source. Either Miller is lying or ESPN butchered the story and a guy’s reputation: whoever is on the wrong side of this is going to be wearing it for a very long time.