‘Nebraska has always felt like a second home’: Hoiberg hired as Huskers’ next men’s basketball coach
Lincoln has a new Mayor.
Fred Hoiberg will be the next coach of the Nebraska men’s basketball team. The university made it official in a news release shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Hoiberg will be introduced Tuesday at a 3 p.m. news conference at Memorial Stadium.
“I can’t express how excited I am to be back on the sidelines and to be coaching at a university that means a lot to my family and me,” Hoiberg said in the release.
“Lincoln is a special place for our family. I was born in Lincoln, my grandfather, Jerry Bush, was the head coach at Nebraska, my other grandfather was a longtime professor there, and my parents are proud graduates of the University of Nebraska. Nebraska has always felt like a second home.”
Hoiberg’s deal is for seven years and $25 million. At just more than $3.57 million annually, Hoiberg would be the third-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten Conference behind Michigan’s John Beilein ($3.8 million base salary) and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($3.73 million). He will be the 11th-highest-paid college coach in the country.
Born in Lincoln long before he became an Iowa State legend, Hoiberg will be the 28th coach in NU’s history and perhaps the closest thing to a home run hire the Huskers have ever had for their men’s basketball program.
Hoiberg replaces Tim Miles, who was fired after Nebraska’s loss to TCU last Sunday ended NU’s season at 19-17. Miles compiled a 116-114 record in seven seasons at NU before being relieved of his duties Tuesday.
Hoiberg had almost that many wins in five seasons as Iowa State’s coach from 2010-15. He took what had become a listless program to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments while winning 23 or more games each of his final four seasons in Ames, and finished 115-56 overall with a 49-39 mark in Big 12 play.
In his final four years at Iowa State, Hoiberg was 99-40 (.712) overall and 46-26 (.638) in league play, with four consecutive winning Big 12 seasons and four consecutive top-four conference finishes.
You need to add up the past 21 seasons of Nebraska basketball over four head coaches to equal those final two statistics.
“When you look at Coach Hoiberg, you see an individual who has had success as a player, a coach and served in an NBA front office,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said. “Fred’s background sells itself on the recruiting trail, and will help us bring in the type of student-athletes needed to compete at the highest level. The style of play he will bring will not only appeal to prospective recruits, but will provide our great fans an entertaining brand of basketball.”
Now he becomes the man tasked with taking Nebrasketball to the next level after Miles lifted the program from irrelevancy but could never completely get over the hump.
Hoiberg’s Nebraska connections are well-known. He was born in Lincoln before his father took a sociology professor position at Iowa State when Fred was young. Hoiberg’s niece already works in the Nebraska basketball office. His grandfather, Jerry Bush, coached at NU from 1954 to 1963. His other grandfather, Otto Hoiberg, was born in Dannebrog, a small community near Grand Island, and was a professor of sociology at UNL.
Fred grew up a huge Nebraska football fan, and even took a recruiting phone call from then-coach Tom Osborne when he was a star athlete at Ames High School.
Hoiberg-to-Nebraska rumors had swirled for weeks before word surfaced early last week that the school had indeed contacted Hoiberg despite Miles being employed by the university, and that discussions were advanced.
The coach became available in December after spending just more than three seasons leading the NBA Chicago Bulls, where injury-plagued rosters derailed his time in the Windy City. Hoiberg was 115-155 with Chicago, and was fired in December after the Bulls started 5-19.
“Bill Moos has made an exceptional choice to lead Husker basketball into the future,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green said in the news release. “I look forward to welcoming Coach Hoiberg and his family to Nebraska and am excited to see where he takes the program.”
A highly respected basketball mind, Hoiberg took a position as assistant general manager for the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves in 2006 after his professional playing career ended in 2005, and was in Minneapolis until he took the Iowa State job in 2010.
But “my passion is in coaching,” Hoiberg told ESPN in January, “and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”
So are Nebraska fans hungry for a consistent winner at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Miles was the only men’s coach in the arena’s six-year history, and his teams played in front of consistently sold-out crowds despite employing a defense-first style that wasn’t always aesthetically pleasing.
That doesn’t figure to be the case under Hoiberg.
Over his final three seasons at Iowa State, the Cyclones ranked third, fifth and 14th nationally in points per game. Those three teams combined to score fewer than 70 points just eight times in 105 games.
Using KenPom’s advanced statistics, those teams ranked eighth, ninth and 12th in offensive efficiency, and 30th, 12th and 10th in tempo.
For comparison, this season’s Nebraska team, one of the most skilled Husker squads in years, scored fewer than 70 points 16 times in 36 games while ranking 197th in points per game, 31st in offensive efficiency and 204th in tempo.
Even as Hoiberg reshaped Iowa State’s roster his first two seasons, his offenses still rated ahead of the current Nebraska team in tempo and points per game while having 10 and 13 games of fewer than 70 points, respectively, in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Hoiberg earned the nickname “The Mayor” during his playing days at Iowa State, when he received write-in votes during an Ames mayoral election.
As a player for the Cyclones, he had career averages of 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. His name remains all over Iowa State’s record books, and his number has been retired by the university. He played nine seasons in the NBA with three teams — Indiana, Minnesota and Chicago.
He even has experience coaching in Pinnacle Bank Arena. He was in his first season on the sideline with the Bulls when Chicago beat the Dallas Mavericks in a 2015 exhibition game at PBA.
“It’s an unbelievable facility,” Hoiberg said at the time. “To see where this basketball program has gone, and when you have facilities likes this … it should be great for the future of Nebraska basketball.”
Now that he’s in Lincoln on a more permanent basis, Husker fans are hoping the same.