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Lose tonight, and EIU’s chances of making the OVC tournament this season go from slim to all but none. They would not only need to win their final 4 OVC games, but hope that either Jacksonville State or Morehead State lose all of their remaining games, and hope they can win a tiebreaker.

As the title may suggest, many EIU fans have taken up the hashtag on Twitter of #FIREMIKEMILLER, something many fans have been calling for over the past few years. And the argument can easily be made to fire Miller based not only on the team’s performance this year, but last year as well. This team is a far cry from the squad that went 11-7 in the conference 2 years ago.

But the idea has been brought up, if Miller is fired, who does EIU find to replace him, and can they actually turn Eastern Illinois around? Given Belmont’s inclusion in the OVC next season, and with the Racers fortunes clearly rising, winning in the OVC may be more of a challenge than ever.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think EIU will fire Mike Miller at the end of the season. Miller’s contract is expiring, and I think it will hard to justify giving him an extension given the past 2 years.

But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right decision. That 2010 season was the team’s first winning season since 2001, and the injury to Tyler Laser last year is a contributing reason to their downfall in last season. This years team is rather young.

But those are just excuses. Tennessee State is young, but succeeding. Morehead State’s leading scorer went down early in conference play, yet they’re still safely in the tournament field. Other teams have overcome similar adversity that the Panthers haven’t.

I can’t blame fans for being upset with Miller, but Miller was a smart hire when the Panthers made it. Coming off a year as a Kansas State assistant, and having head coaching experience in the Southland Conference, including being named coach of the year, it’s a rather impressive resume for someone taking over a school that’s hasn’t had almost any history of success in a low-major conference, that’s suddenly looking to make mid-major status.

Some of this is a “Devil’s Advocate” type of argument: I’m not saying he shouldn’t necessarily not be fired, but how certain can you be that if Miller is fired, the school will find a better coach. He’s shown he can succeed at EIU, no small task, and he may be able to do so again. And does a tougher OVC entice better coaches to join, or scare them away from a school that’s had limited success in the past.

Again, I think Miller will be fired after this season. And I think that he probably should be fired, because EIU may risk losing fans if they keep him. But many of those fans will come back around if EIU starts winning, whether Miller’s there or not.

Is success 2 years ago enough to grant one more season? Possibly. It’s recent enough evidence to think he might be able to do it again.

[Today’s Games]

Tennessee State (15-10, 8-4) at No. 9/7 Murray State (23-0, 11-0), 7:00 p.m. CST, ESPN3
Previews: TSU, Murray
Live Coverage tonight on Twitter @OVCBall

TSU is hot, coming off a signature win at SEMO. They’ve won 5 straight, and 7 of 8, but SEMO only quality road win of bunch. Ivan Aska may return to the starting lineup tonight for the Racers.

UT Martin (3-22, 0-10) at SEMO (12-11, 7-4), 7:00 p.m. CST
Previews: UTM, SEMO

SEMO looks to bounce back from a rough week, and what better team to bounce back against than hosting UT Martin.

Eastern Illinois (9-14, 2-9) at Tennessee Tech (16-9, 8-4), 7:00 p.m. CST
Previews: EIU, TTU

Just 5 OVC games return for Eastern Illinois, who are 4 games behind in the win column from making the OVC tournament. Tennessee Tech is on a 3-game win streak, hoping to snag the 2nd seed.

[Last Night’s Scores]

Jacksonville State 69, Morehead State 55
Recaps: Jax. St., Morehead

Another big night for the Gamecocks suddenly resurgent offense leads to big road win, now four wins ahead of Eastern Illinois for final OVC Tournament spot. So is Morehead State.

  1. Luke:
    I suppose it doesn't really do a lot of good to look back on it now, but as a lifelong Kansas State fan I have to dispute the fact that being an assistant coach during the Jim Woolridge is any kind of a positive on a resume. Wooly always seemed like a really nice guy, but those were painful years for the Kansas State program. Miller was there for five seasons and never part of a good team.
  2. EIU FAN:
    Some good points.  Miller has had terrible luck with the best or at least near best player getting injured each of the past few years.  And, you are right.  People will return if he would start winning.  I have a short memory if they would start winning.  However, even Samuels had better results during his time.  He would have his bad years but he had good years more often than Miller.  (EIU did make it to two NCAA tournaments.) I don't buy the premise that there is not a good coach that wants to turn a Div1 (albeit low major) around.  There is also some behind the scenes stuff that I do not like to hear but do not want to get into out of my loyalty to EIU, although I guess some of it is probably due to the difficulty of handling losing.  The end result is that for me, it is obvious that it is time for a change. My hiring scenario - for fun only no wagering - is that the University of Illinois fires Bruce Weber.  Bruce then takes the EIU job.  He must take about 1/7 of his current salary but he continues to earn years of service in the state university retirement system which he has built up since his SIU days.  His wife also likes living in Champaign and their house, and he would not have to move.  EIU would promise to show the love the Illini faithful are not providing. If that doesn't work, SIU fires Lowery who has had a terrible last few years but was the hottest thing going 3-4 years ago when they were ranked 11th and hit the sweet sixteen.  Weber takes his spot and EIU gets Lowery.  Lowery would also have to take a fraction of his current salary (remember it's not about the money guys) but he also has the retirement advantage, the love, and a new start.  If you are interested, I am sure I can dream up some more scenarios. 
  3. EIU FAN:
    Never mind.  After winning tonight, Miller forever.
OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall


Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19


UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24