Miller time: GCCC hires ex-KSU QB to lead football program
By ADAM HOLT
As a guy looking for a football job — in the state of Kansas, especially — you could do a lot worse than getting a recommendation from Bill Snyder.
Especially when that phone call results in a glowing endorsement from the venerable Kansas State head coach.
Of course, Matt Miller had plenty of merit on his own, en route to being introduced Monday as the new head coach of the Garden City Community College football team.
"We had a couple conversations with him (Snyder)," GCCC athletic director Dennis Harp said. "We called other references; but Coach Snyder really was high on Matt, not only as a player, obviously, but as an assistant coach, and a guy he felt could be the right guy for this job."
Miller's hiring was announced at the Broncbuster Athletic Association luncheon Monday. The Broncbusters' offensive coordinator for the 2012 season takes over for Jeff Tatum, who resigned after two seasons to take the head coaching position at Mississippi Delta Community College.
Once the GCCC position was left vacant, there was no doubt in Miller's mind that he would apply to fill it.
"To have an opportunity to take over a program like this is truly an honor, and something that, when it opened, I was definitely going to go after it," he said.
The school looked to fill the position internally first, and Miller, linebackers coach Eric Gibson and defensive coordinator Lou West all applied. The six-person search committee chaired by Harp made their recommendation of Miller on Friday, and the move was approved by president Herbert Swender that same day.
"He's got a personality that just connects with people. He connected with all of the committee and he's got a vast background in football," said Dee Wigner, executive vice-president of finance and operations at GCC. "He knows football from every angle. I think we were impressed with his vision for the program and where he wants to take it."
Miller becomes the 20th head coach in GCCC football history, and although it's his first head coaching job, brings a wealth of football experience to the position.
After serving as a graduate assistant at K-State under Snyder for a few years starting in 1996, he was made a full-time assistant in 1999, coaching tackles, tight ends and quarterbacks over the next seven years. He helped develop Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Bishop, and helped recruit running back Darren Sproles to the Wildcats.
As a player, Miller was the starting quarterback for the 1995 K-State team that went 10-2 with a Holiday Bowl win and a top-10 finish in the national polls.
Miller comes from a family well-connected in the football world. His father, Les, was a longtime front-office executive in the NFL, and his brother, Marty, is a scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After leaving football in 2006 to work in business, Miller was hired as offensive coordinator for the Busters prior to the 2012 season. He helped Garden City average 498.5 yards per game, sixth best in the nation, and GCCC's 37.7 points per game were No. 15 in the country.
Harp said one of Miller's greatest strengths is his ability to identify player talent. He also praised Miller's work ethic.
"I think just his body of work, that I've seen since I've been here from Day 1," Harp said. "From the first time I met him until now, there's never been a day he hasn't been upbeat. I think during this time when he could have used an excuse that we need to hire somebody quick, because we're losing recruits, he just kept recruiting."
During his introductory remarks, Miller said the program is "ready to win right now."
"Coach Tatum did a tremendous job," Miller said. "Through his hard work and his diligence — he's got this program up to the top-20 level. We've got a lot of great talent coming back, but now it's my job to add some new guys in that. Obviously at the junior college level, there's a quick recycling of players. Definitely, I think we can compete for a lot of great things next year."
Miller said he's expecting to retain all of the 2012 coaching staff in the same roles, with offensive line coach Merci Falaise promoted to offensive coordinator — although Miller joked that he'll still be calling the plays. Miller said he'll look to add another offensive assistant.
Now, Miller and his staff look to finish recruiting, ahead of National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Miller said he has a couple of commitments, and the Busters will be very busy with visits over the next two weeks.
It's been quite the whirlwind over the last 11 days for Miller, but he said he's excited for the challenges that his new position will bring.
"Anytime you're at this level, and you've been to the levels I have as a coach and an athlete, you appreciate challenges," Miller said. "You always want to show what you can do, and set goals for yourself. This is nothing different. I'm gonna attack it the same way I've attacked a lot of things in my life and been able to be successful with in the football profession. I don't see any reason we can't continue (success) at Garden City, and I'm expecting it to continue here at Garden City."
Miller, who is single, has two daughters — Mia, 8, and Maggie, 7, who reside in Eureka.