Miller from 1968 Hawkeye
March 9, 1919|
May 15, 2001 (aged 82)|
Black Butte Ranch, Oregon
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
MVC regular season (1964)|
2 Big Ten regular season (1968, 1970)
4 Pac-10 regular season (1980–1982, 1984)
2× AP Coach of the Year (1981, 1982)|
Henry Iba Award (1981)
NABC Coach of the Year (1981)
UPI Coach of the Year (1981)
2× Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1981, 1989)
Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 1988
College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
|Service/||U.S. Army Air Forces|
|Battles/wars||World War II (stateside)|
Ralph H. Miller (March 9, 1919 – May 15, 2001) was an American college basketball coach, a head coach for 38 years at three universities: Wichita (1951–1964), Iowa, (1964–1970), and Oregon State (1970–1989). With an overall record of 657–382 (.632), his teams had losing records only three times. Prior to his final season, he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame on May 3, 1988.
Born and raised in Chanute, Kansas, Miller was a standout athlete in high school and college. At Chanute High School, he won letters in football, track, basketball, golf and tennis. Miller was an all-state basketball player for three years and set the state record in the low hurdles in 1937. He was all-state three consecutive years in football and basketball.
In college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Miller won three letters as a football quarterback and three in basketball. By 1940, he was beating the 1932 gold medalist in the decathlon Jim Bausch in seven of ten events.
As an undergraduate, he was coached by the legendary Phog Allen. In one of Miller's classes, a guest lecturer was Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Miller was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity at KU.
Miller's first coaching position was at Mount Oread High School in Lawrence, and the team consisted primarily of professors' sons. The season did not go well and left a sour taste in his mouth towards coaching basketball.
Miller didn't have to go overseas during World War II because of knee problems that began at KU. He enlisted in the Air Force and held desk jobs in Florida, Texas, and California. After the war, he became an assistant director of recreation and oversaw a swimming pool and playground in Redlands, California. Soon, he joined a friend in the business of hauling fruit.
In 1949, eight years after his ill-fated first attempt at coaching, a friend from Wichita named Fritz Snodgrass sent Miller a telegram asking if he might be interested in returning to guide his son's team at East High School. At East, Miller became a student of the game. He was fascinated by the full-court press zone defense that had been developed at Kansas in 1930, but he wondered why it was only used after a basket was made. Nobody could give Miller a solid answer, and so he began tinkering with ways to press after missed shots, too. His idea was to assign each player a man to guard, and when an errant shot went up, they were immediately to pick up their man. His ideas were very successful. In three years at East High, Miller's teams finished second, third and first in the state using his system of execution and pressure basketball.
University of Wichita
In 1951, the president of the University of Wichita (now Wichita State University) offered him a job. Miller spent 13 years at Wichita, winning 220 games, earning three NIT berths and a spot in the NCAA tournament in 1964.
University of Iowa
In the spring of 1964, Miller left for the University of Iowa of the Big Ten Conference, where he built one of the greatest offensive juggernauts in NCAA history. The Hawkeyes averaged more than 100 points a game in Big Ten play in 1970 and went undefeated (14–0) in the Big Ten with a 19–4 regular season record. At the NCAA tournament, Iowa was on a sixteen-game winning streak and played their first game in the Sweet Sixteen, but were upset by independent Jacksonville, the eventual national runner-up. After a consolation win over Notre Dame, the Hawkeyes finished at 20–5 overall.
Oregon State University
A month later in April 1970, Miller was offered the job at Oregon State after Paul Valenti stepped down. Miller had only two losing seasons in 19 years at OSU, and retired as the second winningest head coach in Oregon State history with 359 victories, behind Slats Gill.
Miller retired at age 70 in 1989, his final regular season win was a comfortable one, over rival Oregon at a sold-out Gill Coliseum on Sunday, March 5. The Beavers lost to top-ranked Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tourney, then fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Evansville at Tucson.
Miller's career record was 657–382 (.632); the 657 victories were the most by an active coach and ranked him seventh among major college coaches, trailing only Adolph Rupp (876), Hank Iba (767), Ed Diddle (759), Phog Allen (746), Ray Meyer (724), and John Wooden (664). Miller's teams actually won 674 games, but the total was reduced by forfeits because one of his players, Lonnie Shelton, had signed with an agent while still in college in 1976.
The floor of Gill Coliseum is named Ralph Miller Court, and the street in front of the venue was renamed Ralph Miller Drive shortly upon his retirement.
In the fall of 1937 at the University of Kansas, he took a physiology class, and the students were seated alphabetically. Next to him was an attractive co-ed from Topeka named Emily Jean Milam; five years later they were married. The couple had two sons, Ralph Jr. and Paul, and two daughters, Susan Langer and Shannon Jakosky.
The gymnasium at Chanute High School is named after Ralph Miller, and is home to the Ralph Miller Classic, an eight-team tournament.
A dozen years after his retirement, Miller died in his sleep at age 82 at his home at Black Butte Ranch, northwest of Bend. He had suffered from congestive heart failure and complications from emphysema. His wife Jean died at age 93 in 2014 in Bend.
Head coaching record
|Wichita Shockers (Missouri Valley Conference) (1951–1964)|
|1953–54||Wichita||27–4||8–2||2nd||NIT First Round|
|1961–62||Wichita||18–9||7–5||3rd||NIT First Round|
|1962–63||Wichita||19–8||7–5||2nd||NIT First Round|
|1963–64||Wichita||23–5||10–2||1st||NCAA University Division Elite Eight|
|Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1964–1970)|
|1969–70||Iowa||20–5||14–0||1st||NCAA University Division Sweet 16|
|Oregon State Beavers (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference) (1970–1989)|
|1974–75||Oregon State||19–12||10–4||2nd||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|1978–79||Oregon State||18–10||11–7||3rd||NIT First Round|
|1979–80||Oregon State||26–4**||16–2||1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|1980–81||Oregon State||26–2**||17–1||1st||NCAA Division I Second Round|
|1981–82||Oregon State||25–5***||16–2||1st||NCAA Division I Elite Eight|
|1982–83||Oregon State||20–11||12–6||3rd||NIT Quarterfinal|
|1983–84||Oregon State||22–7||15–3||1st||NCAA Division I First Round|
|1984–85||Oregon State||22–9||12–6||2nd||NCAA Division I First Round|
|1986–87||Oregon State||19–11||10–8||3rd||NIT Second Round|
|1987–88||Oregon State||20–11||12–6||2nd||NCAA Division I First Round|
|1988–89||Oregon State||22–8||13–5||2nd||NCAA Division I First Round|
Postseason invitational champion
* 15 wins were forfeited and official record for that season is 3–24
** 1 NCAA Tournament loss was vacated
*** 2 NCAA Tournament wins and 1 loss were vacated
**** Official record with vacated and forfeited wins and losses
- Conrad, John (May 17, 2001). "Legendary coach dies". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1D.
- "OSU's Miller enshrined in Hall of Fame". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. May 4, 1988. p. 1C.
- Phi Kappa Psi (1991). Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (13th ed.). Publishing Concepts, Inc. 1991. pp. 275, 493.
- "Kentucky, Jacksonville win". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. March 13, 1970.
- "New coach to shift 'image' into speed". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). April 9, 1970. p. 1D.
- Uhrhammer, Jerry (April 9, 1970). "'Challenge' drew new Beaver coach". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1D.
- "Iowa coach to Bevos". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 9, 1970. p. 20.
- "Style change seen at OSU". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. April 9, 1970. p. 37.
- "Beavers sign Iowa's Miller". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. April 9, 1970. p. 6.
- Burge, Mike (March 6, 1989). "Fans bid farewell to Miller". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1A.
- Clark, Bob (March 6, 1989). "Ducks never had a chance". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1A.
- Schmitt, Mary (March 12, 1989). "'Cats do their No. 1 number". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1E.
- Schmitt, Mary (March 17, 1989). "OSU draws Aces today for openers". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1E.
- Schmitt, Mary (March 18, 1989). "Beavers take a seat on NCAA sidelines". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1D.
- Litsky, Frank (May 19, 2001). "Ralph Miller, 82, a Hall of Fame Coach". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- "Jean Miller, widow of former Oregon State Beavers coach Ralph Miller, dies at 93". Oregon Live. (OSU Athletics). August 13, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Welsch, Jeff; Moore, Sherry (2000). A Visit With Ralph Miller. From his home at Black Butte Ranch, Hall of Famer Miller recalls the glory days of OSU basketball Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine.. A Visit With Ralph Miller -- From his home at Black Butte Ranch, Hall of Famer Miller recalls the glory days of OSU basketball'.
- Withers, Bud (May 17, 2001). "College basketball loses a true legend". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (Seattle Times). p. C3.