Archie Miller has caught everyone’s attention during the Dayton Flyers’ stunning run in the NCAA tournament.
The UD coach has been interviewed on almost every big-time sports talk show. He was the halftime guest of the CBS studio crew during a national broadcast of one of the tournament games last Sunday. He’s been trumpeted in newspaper stories coast to coast, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times.
And yet, as the Flyers tip off against Stanford tonight in a Sweet 16 game at FedEx Forum, there is one person connected to UD basketball who is even more popular than the young coach:
The coach’s wife.
The CBS-TV cameras will find her early and often tonight. She has set the Internet abuzz the past couple of weeks. Her Twitter account, @BballWife4Life, now has a devoted following. The YouTube clip of her over-the-top reaction to Dayton’s dramatic final-seconds defeat of Syracuse last Saturday night in Buffalo has become one of the most-watched of the tournament.
The lucky t-shirt she’s been wearing and will again don tonight — with a Dayton High Life logo across the chest, a play on the family name and the beer — has helped a Dayton company, Logos@Work, score a business success.
She’s become a favorite topic of sports bloggers, many who take the same tack as New York Metro, which dubbed her the “hottest wife” in college basketball.
Last year at the Sweet 16 it was Amanda Marcum, the former Maxim model married to then Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, who drew all the attention.
Now it’s Morgan Miller, and yet when she heard that comparison Wednesday evening at the Dayton Flyers team hotel, she tossed a little cold water on such over-heated embrace.
While she admitted her social media following “the last two weeks had kind of gone crazy,” she dismissed the comparisons to Enfield’s wife.
“I really don’t look at any of this that way,” she said. “I just kind of feel I’m in the right place at the right time and I had the right t-shirt on. And that just caught somebody’s eyes.
“But I don’t have some plan other than I’m just supporting my husband and the boys.”
As she showed at the end of the Syracuse game in a scene captured by TV cameras — she grabs her hair in “I can’t believe this is happening” joy, grabs her friend’s nephew around the neck and hugs him, then backs up and puts a hand over her mouth as she gasps — she is excitable and emotional and totally into the moment.
And yet Archie warns you shouldn’t underestimate her.
“She’s also very tough,” he said after his team’s shoot-around Wednesday. “She doesn’t take any b.s., whether it be from the referees…or myself.”
Eyes wide open
Morgan said before she met Archie, her dad did.
She was a senior in high school taking a tour of North Carolina State, the school from which her dad and her uncles had graduated, the place where she would be running track in the fall.
While she went off to visit classes with a college student, her dad could have joined other parents on a tour of the campus. But he skipped that and instead went to the gym where he saw a small guard for the Wolkpack hoisting up shot after shot after shot.
On their ride back home to Salisbury, N.C., she said her dad told her, “I think I just met the guy you’re gonna date next year.”
“I was a teenager,” she said, “and I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ ”
As it turned out, father did know best.
Two weeks after she showed up on campus, a teammate of Archie’s lined him up on a blind date with her. A year later she said they were dating regularly.
“How did you ever end up with such a good-looking girl?” Miller was asked Wednesday.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I made a lot of threes, I guess.”
He was a great long-ball shooter for the Wolfpack, but Morgan said that’s not what won her over.
“I think he pushed me a little more than some guys did, he challenged me,” she said. “But he was also a nice guy. He’s just a very genuine, very giving person. Now people will say, ‘We saw him smile for the first time,’ but we see him smile all the time. We know him to be honest and caring, just a good family person.”
The two married 10 years ago and now have a 9-year-old daughter, Leah, a third-grader at Incarnation.
That Twitter handle may be catchy — BballWife4Life — but the truth is, the life of a coach’s wife can be tough.
There is the constant moving (six places in eight years, Archie noted of his assistant days), the hours on the job and the gut-wrenching emotions that come with tough losses and white-knuckle wins.
“I didn’t go into it blind, though,” Morgan said. “Archie’s brother Sean (now the Arizona coach) is 10 years older and he and Amy were already married and had kids when he was (helping) coach Archie at State.
“I saw how their life went and I had almost a blueprint to follow for my life. So I knew what I was getting into.”
Giant love fest
In his third season as a head coach, the 35-year-old Miller has found success on the court — his 25-10 team has taken Dayton to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years — and he now has financial security.
Three days ago it was announced that the school had signed him to a contract extension that goes through the 2018-2019 season.
More than that, Morgan said, she and Archie and their daughter have a community they love:
“Our daughter loves Incarnation. I love the friends we met here and I love the Dayton community. It’s a great place to raise a child.
“And what a great place for basketball. People in Dayton really care for their team It’s an environment where they live and breathe and die college basketball. We’ve been at other schools where that’s not the case, where there are pro teams or other things going on and nobody really cares about college basketball.
And with the Flyers’ success and the communal love fest it’s brought, she’s noticed one change in her husband.
In tougher times past, when losses begot temporary disappointment, she said Archie would come home and “go down to his man cave. I used to be, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ But I learned to just let him go, let him sort it out.”
And has he ever sorted it.
The Flyers are the talk of the tournament and she said he hasn’t been down in the cave.
There’s no time — or reason — when you’re in the Sweet 16.