At 67, Oregon State's Ralph Miller Has No Idea When He'll Retire

Associated Press

Long after his contemporaries have turned over their profession to younger men, Ralph Miller fields his 36th major-college basketball team this season.

At age 67, Miller insists he doesn't know when he will retire as coach of the Oregon State Beavers.

"I'm enjoying what I do," he said as he prepared his rebuilt Oregon State team for a game against the Norwegian national squad.

"Certainly I'm positive that some day I'm going to wake up and say, 'Wait a minute now, this is enough,' " he said.

But he said he doesn't know if that will happen this season. He said he might coach until he's 70, which would give him three more years at the helm of the Beavers.

One thing was certain: Miller wasn't about to step down after his team's dismal 1985-86 season, when the Beavers struggled to a 12-15 record, only the third losing season in his 35 years as a coach.

"That would be the last season that I would resign after," he said.

Miller says last year's team was the only squad that failed to play the style of competitive basketball that he has coached since he started at Wichita State in 1952.

"That was the only one that surprised me," he said.

"I've only had one season that I didn't enjoy," Miller said, referring to the '85-86 campaign, "and that's history."

Miller's 613 career victories are by far the most among active NCAA Division I coaches, so losing didn't sit well with him. His team has undergone a dramatic facelift. Only two players have any experience to speak of at the major-college level. The rest are freshmen and junior-college transfers.

Of the nine who are gone from last season, four were seniors, two flunked out of school, one left for personal reasons and two departed because they felt they would get more playing time elsewhere.

"We've had people who decided to leave that we thought personally were making a mistake," Miller said, "but I'm not going to argue with them a great deal because one thing for sure, for a young man to be productive in the classroom and on the basketball floor, he must be satisfied personally."

The teaching part of being a coach always has been Miller's favorite aspect of the profession, so he said he's enjoying himself this year.

"I think the most interesting thing about having a young team is that you can see some development everywhere a lot quicker," he said. "They're eager. They want to learn. They've got to learn. They don't even know what to do for offense or defense, so they've got to listen. They've got to absorb."

Although he still chain smokes cigarettes and had a benign cyst removed from his face this summer, Miller said his health is good.

"I keep passing my physicals," he said.

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