BY JEREMY HOECK
Chuck Iverson clearly remembers interviewing a young, energetic coach 20 years ago.
Iverson, the Mount Marty College athletic director, was searching for a new head men’s basketball coach.
This particular candidate, age 29, had just finished a stint as an assistant coach at Northern State.
“He was impressive,” Iverson recalls. “He was young-looking; still is. He was impressive then and impressive now.”
Who was that young coach?
Yes, that’s right. Miles — owner of 326 career wins and now a Division I household name as the head coach at Nebraska — was very nearly the head coach of the Lancers.
Iverson joked that he is the last person who didn’t offer Miles a job.
“I’m not proud of that,” Iverson said during his introduction of Miles during Wednesday night’s FCA Evening of Champions event in Yankton.
To be fair, the guy Mount Marty hired turned out to be the smart move.
Jim Thorson had been the former Yankton College head coach and athletic director, and was later the head coach at South Dakota State.
“Why are you interviewing me, when you know Jim Thorson could run for mayor of Yankton?” Miles recalls.
Miles joked that Iverson’s reaction was, “No, no, we’re open to this.”
As Miles was 12 minutes outside of Yankton after his interview, he got a phone call. It was Iverson. Mount Marty was hiring Thorson.
Sure, there’s an understandable sense of what-could-have-been, but even as Miles points out, he wasn’t the same Tim Miles everyone now knows.
“They hired the perfect guy,” Miles said. “ I wasn’t ready.”
Miles was later hired as the head coach at Mayville State, an NAIA school in North Dakota, and would go on to lead that men’s program to a pair of national tournament appearances in his two seasons.
Mount Marty, conversely, found similar success right away with Thorson. He guided the Lancers to the NAIA National Tournament semifinals in his third season (1997-98). Thorson, who resigned two years ago, won 253 games in 18 seasons at Mount Marty.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it’s certainly interesting to think about it, isn’t it?