Miano’s Media Blitz Is Paying Off

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - December 14, 2011
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A day after the announcement that Greg McMackin was fired/retired/resigned, a colleague expressed concern that interim head coach Rich Miano hadn’t taken the opportunity to sell himself as a candidate during his rounds of morning news programs.

That is no longer the case. Miano is campaigning heavily for the job, and with each interview is further securing himself a spot on the leader board.

He’s not a shoo-in, but while other candidates must wait to be interviewed, Miano is taking his campaign to the public and is succeeding.

What happens during the private interviews could be another matter.

Miano needs to answer the Watergate question: What did he know and how long did he know it?

McMackin was let go because he didn’t win enough, didn’t recruit well enough, and according to quarterback David Graves, couldn’t communicate effectively with the players.

As the associate head coach, some of the blame rests on Miano’s shoulders. The search advisory committee would be derelict in its duties if it didn’t ask that most critical question.

Beyond that, the process is pretty standard, including how do you get students to once again take interest in the program?

To his credit, Miano has answered some of those difficult questions at least in a measured way, starting with the walk-on program, which he headed under McMackin.

“When your walk-on program has four captains and I think probably our best players, (and) the previous (year) we had seven of the 22 starters as walk-ons if that’s the best part of your program, there is something wrong with your scholarship program,” he said on Leahey and Leahey last week.

Tipping his hand that current offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich would remain in that position, Miano said he has spoken to Rolo about playing a more physical style of football than the one that has been the team’s signature over the past few years. He also singled out defensive tackle coach Tony Tuioti for praise.

“I think the evolution of this offense has to continue to evolve, and it hasn’t evolved. I think using a tight end is a strong possibility, using two backs is a possibility, play action just to have some degree of variety. I think that’s where he (Rolovich) wants to go and, if that’s the case, then we are philosophically on the same page.”

That’s as specific a generality as you’re going to publicly hear from any candidate, even from one who took a flyby commenting on the hiring process saying, “If it’s a fair and transparent process, I have no problem with it. As Kanoa (Leahey) stated last time, maybe there was a hasty decision made last time in the previous administration. We need to get this process done.”

He also discussed an apparent lack of focus among certain players.

“We need to make sure these young men are disciplined ... I think discipline has been somewhat missing, and they will be disciplined if I am the guy.”

I won’t count that as a swipe against his former boss, but it does suggest that Miano doesn’t feel bound to the status quo, which dragged down his predecessor’s program.

“The staff I am going to hire is young and wants to compete,” he said. If he sticks to his word, that could mean the end for graybeards such as Cal Lee, Dick Tomey and George Lumpkin.

Just as the current White House office holder will have an advantage come November, the interim tag is a huge benefit for Miano. But it’s no guarantee. Miano has never been a head coach and his breadth of experience as an assistant has been limited to one school and one offensive system. That puts him at a disadvantage to some of the other candidates who are rumored or reported to have applied for the job.

Baylor associate head coach and former UH defensive back Brian Norwood (Navy, Texas Tech, Penn State), Dino Babers (Purdue, Arizona, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, UCLA), Duane Akina (UH, CFL’s Calgary Stampede, Arizona, Texas) and Buzz Preston (UH, Stanford, Notre Dame) all have more diverse coaching backgrounds than Miano.

Plus, none is older than 55. Norwood is 48 and Miano 49. The cutoff age should be 60.

I know age discrimination is against the law, but UH needs to add life to the weary program, not add to its AARP membership roles.

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