AP Sports Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - It's hard keeping up with new Nebraska coach Tim Miles.
He's busy selling hope that a moribund program that hasn't won even a share of a conference championship since 1950, let alone an NCAA tournament game, can win in the rugged Big Ten.
He's doing it the only way he knows how, and that's with lots and lots of energy.
``This train is moving forward,'' he said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. ``You're either on board or you're in the way.''
Since getting hired less than three weeks ago, he's begun assembling a staff, met with players to see who's staying or going and laid groundwork for recruiting. Miles also has strived to generate excitement among a fan base that has grown largely indifferent from decades of losing.
He's appeared at booster functions, thrown out the first pitch at a Nebraska baseball game and even hosted a pizza party for hundreds of students on Wednesday night.
When he gets a spare moment, he logs onto his Twitter account ((at)coachmiles) and engages his 13,250-plus followers, a number that has nearly tripled since he came to Lincoln from Colorado State.
Miles seems to tweet about everything other than basketball.
He posted a picture of a parking ticket he found on his windshield this week. ``Dang!! Welcome to Lincoln,'' he wrote.
He also exchanged niceties with Larry the Cable Guy and empathized with Phil Mickelson after Lefty hit into bamboo and triple-bogied a par-3 at the Masters on Sunday. On Friday, he was preparing to answer fans' questions during a Twitter chat ((hash)askcoachmiles).
All this outreach comes quite naturally to the 45-year-old Miles.
``Being the youngest of five kids, you're an attention-seeker, right?'' he said. ``So you get out among the people.''
Miles, whose contract has not been finalized, knows the ovations he's been getting from booster groups will turn to howls if he doesn't win. ``I have until about Nov. 1 to enjoy the standing Os,'' he said.
It's no secret many fans were underwhelmed with the hiring of Miles, who has never been an assistant at a BCS-level school.
``I'm sure there are people who really wish they would have hired someone other than Tim Miles, and that's fine,'' he said. ``But we've exceeded expectations every job we've had and I don't intend on changing that now. There is only one guy getting the `L.' It's not the fan who's not happy there wasn't a splash hire. It's me, and I intend to do well.''
Miles has ascended through the ranks the past 17 years, from tiny Mayville State in North Dakota, to Southwest Minnesota State, to North Dakota State and then to Colorado State. Each season at each stop has been better than the year before. This past season, his fifth at Colorado State, he led the Rams to a 20-12 record and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003.
As of Thursday, he has six returning players on the roster and two incoming recruits. He has five scholarships available for next season but is unsure he'll use them all.
``I don't think the state of the program is anywhere close to where anybody wants it to be,'' Miles said. ``We have got good players. We need more of them. We need to have a better physicality to us, to be in better shape, to be physically stronger.''
Miles makes no promise that the 2012-13 Huskers will be better than this past season, when they were 12-18 overall and last in the Big Ten at 4-14.
``The last three jobs we've had, we've really stunk my first year,'' he said. ``That's what I'm basing it on. I want to be good tomorrow. I know it takes time. If you look at my track record, we've always trended up. We're going to build it right. We're going to creep, crawl, walk, run. I don't have a time frame.''
Miles said Nebraska is a ``remarkably appealing'' job right now because of facility improvements. The Hendricks Training Center opened last fall, and a 16,000-seat downtown arena will replace the Devaney Sports Center as the team's home in 2013-14.
But no matter how much Miles glad-hands the students and fans at pizza parties and on social media, he'll be in the same situation as the man he replaced if he can't make a winner of a program that has been so accustomed to losing.
``Doc Sadler is a great man. He's a smart coach. You're not going to find a better personality or classier guy. How do you top that? You don't,'' Miles said.
``We need to put together a team that can function and figure out a way to win. That's what we need the most.''