TERRE HAUTE —
Trent Miles’ impact on the Indiana State football program — and the athletic program overall — is hard to overstate.
Football was a sickly program when Miles arrived prior to the 2008 season. ISU would twice be saddled with the nation’s longest losing streak in the mid-to-late 2000s. The program itself was in serious jeopardy of being eliminated.
Miles made ISU football a winner again. And with Miles moving on to take the job at Georgia State, the man who hired Miles — ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman — is charged with an equally large task … finding a coach who has the same gravitas Miles brought to the Sycamores’ program.
Prettyman was told Friday morning by Miles that the Terre Haute native would take the Georgia State job. After Miles announced the move to the ISU team at 6 p.m. Friday night, Prettyman went to work on finding ISU’s next coach.
Prettyman had a meeting with the ISU athletic staff shortly after Miles went public with his move to plan their next move.
“I already have a terrific short list of candidates I keep as a professional development process. I’m very confident we’ll get several more quality candidates as this develops in the next few days,” said Prettyman from his office on Friday night.
ISU did not name an interim coach to replace Miles. Georgia State will have its press conference to officially announce Miles on Monday and Prettyman feels he’ll know more at that point as to who is departing with Miles to join him on Georgia State’s staff.
“He’s unsure about which of the current staff members he’s going to ask to go with him or which are going to be willing to leave. We haven’t gotten to that road yet and probably won’t for several days until that plays out,” Prettyman said.
Prettyman would not commit to a timeline to replace Miles. Several college football programs are still active, especially at the FBS level, and several jobs could open or close that will change the pool of candidates by the day.
“I’m not going to put a timeline on this. If I feel really outstanding about someone, I may make a hire in three days. But I’m not going to rush this thing and I’m not going to put a deadline on it either. It will be my top priority effective at 6:30 p.m. tonight. We’re full-speed ahead,” Prettyman said.
Prettyman will be in a better position to make a football hire than he was in 2007 when Miles replaced Lou West as head coach. ISU is no longer saddled with the reputation of being the worst program in Division I. Facilities have been updated and upgraded.
The head coaches’ salary — Miles’ base salary was $166,830 — is significantly higher than it was in 2007. West was hired at a salary under $100,000.
“This was not a very attractive job five years ago. I think this is a very attractive job now,” said Prettyman, who also credited current ISU President Dr. Daniel Bradley for putting better financial resources behind football.
“For FCS football, our salaries are competitive. Our facility is outstanding. The field is good, the locker room is as good as any Division I in the nation. We’ve given opportunities to recruit nationwide,” Prettyman added. “It’s a full-on commitment to this program. I think this time around we’ll have people really interested in our job — whether its a current head coach who’s looking to make a change or a quality assistant.”
Prettyman paid tribute to the legacy Miles left behind. Miles finished his ISU career with a 20-36 record, but considering that Miles started 1-22 after he brought in an influx of new players, and finished with three straight winning seasons, the leap forward was one that not even Prettyman could have anticipated.
“I think things changed faster than I anticipated they would. I gave it a five-year process, we saw terrific growth in year one academically. We saw it in the caliber of person Trent was recruiting. In year two, it got better and in year three it exploded. We began to see what we were capable of accomplishing. Trent was a real catalyst for change here,” Prettyman said.