‘Time for the future’: As Tim Miles’ Husker tenure ends, A.D. Bill Moos confident Huskers can compete

‘Time for the future’: As Tim Miles’ Husker tenure ends, A.D. Bill Moos confident Huskers can compete
Tim Miles spent seven seasons with the Huskers and finished with 116 wins, third-most in school history, but won just 50.4 percent of his games, which is second-worst for a head coach at Nebraska since 1964. RYAN SODERLIN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Nebraska is officially in the hunt for its fourth head basketball coach since 2000.

Since Sunday night, when Nebraska’s season ended in Fort Worth, Texas, with an 88-72 loss to TCU in the NIT — the lesser of the two postseason national college basketball tournaments — the only suspense that remained in the tenure of coach Tim Miles was when it would end, not if.

On Tuesday afternoon, NU Athletic Director Bill Moos answered that question.

“I love his passion, his energy, his charisma, his integrity,” Moos said of Miles in a press conference at Memorial Stadium. “But in the end I didn’t feel that we were competing the way that I want our programs to compete in the Big Ten Conference.”

Miles spent seven seasons with the Huskers and finished with 116 wins, third-most in school history, but won just 50.4 percent of his games, which is second-worst for a head coach at Nebraska since 1964.

Per Miles’ contract, he’ll be owed $105,000 per month through March 2021 — about $2.5 million total — though that amount could decrease if Miles takes another job.

The move comes after Miles and Nebraska finished with a disappointing 19-17 record this season, despite the team returning most of its production from a 22-win season a year ago. The Huskers began the year 11-2 and rose as high as No. 24 in the Associated Press poll, but lost 11 of 13 games in January and February and finished 13th in the conference.

Moos said he first entertained the idea of removing Miles after Nebraska’s loss to Rutgers on Jan. 21. After that game, Nebraska ended up losing seven straight.

“The snowball continued to roll the wrong way,” Moos said.

Miles, who met with Moos in his office before the press conference, released a statement on his years as NU’s coach.

“I am extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish during my tenure, most notably developing relationships with so many fantastic people associated with the Huskers,” it read. “A special thank you and deep gratitude to our players and parents who have been with us and supported us over the years.”

Much of the attention surrounding the program in recent days has been on who the next coach will be.

Sources have indicated that the main target is former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. In five seasons at Iowa State, Hoiberg won two Big 12 tournaments and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2014. Hoiberg was fired by the Bulls in December after compiling a 115-155 record.

Moos confirmed on Tuesday that Nebraska has reached out to Hoiberg to gauge interest but added that he doesn’t think NU is close to hiring Hoiberg — or any coach — anytime soon.

But Moos seemed confident in his abilities to land a successful coach.

“I’m no young pup standing here, and I’d be the first to admit that,” Moos said. “I do have a network and I do have connections, and those have already been tapped into.”

Moos said he has reached out to three coaches and expects to introduce one of them in the next seven to 14 days. In the meantime, one of Nebraska’s assistant coaches will be the team’s interim head coach. Mark Boehm, associate athletic director for basketball, will remain in his position for the time being. Moos said Boehm’s future status will depend on if the next coach wants to bring in an entirely new staff.

Hoiberg or not, Moos is confident that Nebraska can bring in a proven winner to take over the program. He said the school is prepared to pay top dollar to do so.

NU remains the only Power Five school in the country without an NCAA tournament win, and has now gone 103 years without an outright conference championship, 69 years with no share of a conference title and 20 years without an NBA draft pick.

But Moos rejected the idea that the program can’t be flipped quickly. He believes that the foundation around basketball is solid with Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Hendricks Training Complex and a thirst for success from the fans.

“I look at Nebraska and people say, ‘Why Nebraska?’ And I say, ‘Why not?’ ” Moos said.

It took 25 hours for Moos to call a meeting with Miles after the team returned to Lincoln from Fort Worth on Monday. That call came around 1 p.m. Tuesday. A statement announcing the firing went out at 2:16 p.m., and the press was summoned to Moos’ 4 p.m. press conference.

Inside Moos’ office, the conversation was cordial and brief, Moos said.

Miles, who endeared himself to fans for almost a decade with his wit, smiled in a maroon sweater as he exited the West Stadium doors of Memorial Stadium just before 2:30 p.m.

“Get my good side,” he joked as cameras closed in.

He didn’t take questions but reiterated that he was proud of what he was able to do in seven years. His term at Nebraska ushered the school into the Big Ten and gave NU its first NCAA tournament berth in almost 20 years.

But not meeting expectations following that NCAA tournament bid in 2014, and the failure to make the tournament this season, ultimately led to the firing.

Miles wished the program good luck. He hoped Moos would hire a “great guy.”

“Now is the time for the future,” Miles said. “I am the past.”

Husker A.D. Bill Moos has three coaches atop list to replace Tim Miles. One is Fred Hoiberg

LINCOLN — Nebraska is not close to hiring a new basketball coach, said Athletic Director Bill Moos.

Moos fired Tim Miles on Tuesday after seven seasons and a 116-114 record. Prior to Miles’ firing, The World-Herald learned Nebraska was targeting Fred Hoiberg as a candidate to replace Miles.

Moos confirmed that he has reached out to Hoiberg, but the deal is not done, he said, contradicting widespread speculation that has trickled out in the final weeks of the Huskers’ season.

The timetable for a new hire would be seven to 14 days, Moos said. He’d be surprised if a new coach were named in less than a week.

“I’m no young pup standing here, and I’d be the first to admit that,” Moos said. “I do have a network and I do have connections, and those have already been tapped in to.”

Moos said he has a list of three coaches he is interested in hiring. All have been contacted. No one is the front-runner.

Nebraska native Dana Altman — who coached Creighton for 16 seasons and has Oregon in its third Sweet 16 in four years — wasn’t on that list. The 60-year-old Altman recently signed an extension with the Ducks through the 2026 season.

“I think Dana’s happy where he’s at and they like him,” Moos said. “He’s a heck of a coach. I think he’s comfortable there. I didn’t talk to him.”

Hoiberg, though, is on the list.

Moos reached out to Hoiberg to gauge interest last month. Moos said he’s not sure he if has a “true answer” on Hoiberg’s interest in the job, and the former Iowa State coach has not flown to Lincoln for an interview.

Hoiberg, 46, was born in Lincoln and is the grandson of Jerry Bush, who coached Nebraska from 1954-63.

Hoiberg, who faced the Huskers many times as a player for Iowa State, went 16-16 in his first season coaching the Cyclones. ISU then made four straight NCAA tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2014. Iowa State won the Big 12 tournament in his final two seasons before he left for the Chicago Bulls in 2015.

Hoiberg went 115-155 with the Bulls before being fired in December.

Hoiberg or not, Moos said he thinks Nebraska can attract a top coach and pay a competitive salary. Miles made $2.375 million this season, which was eighth in the conference.

“We have the ability to pay the going rate for top coaches,” Moos said.

Nebraska remains the only Power Five school never to have won an NCAA tournament game. But Moos doesn’t think a turnaround in Lincoln is that far away.

There’s less turnover in basketball than football, Moos said, so the right hire and the right point guard could change everything.

“I hear, ‘Well, Nebraska’s a football school, and we’ve never gotten it done in basketball, and when we have it hasn’t been consistent, and what’s it gonna take?’ ” Moos said. “I look at Nebraska and people say, ‘Why Nebraska?’ And I say, ‘Why not?’ ”

Moos said he wants someone with integrity, who does things right, who runs an exciting offense and, simply, can win.

“No. 1 objective and goal here at the University of Nebraska, under my leadership, is to win a Big Ten Conference championship,” Moos said. “We can move this program up to competing consistently in the Big Ten.”

NU A.D. Bill Moos believes Nebraska basketball can complete in Big Ten, NCAA tournament

LINCOLN — Three out of five years.

Moos said he thinks that’s a reasonable goal for Nebraska as it relates to NCAA tournament berths. Five years, three berths.

“We’ve got to get it up and going and running and the talent pool, the roster looking fine,” Moos said. “But we had eight in the Big Ten in the tournament this year. The Big Ten was tough, and seven of them won their first games. Why can’t we be one of those?”

Moos said as long as NU is competing in the conference, it’ll be in a position to make the NCAA tournament. A notable exception was 2018, when the Huskers finished fourth in the league but didn’t get a tourney bid. In fact, Nebraska got a higher NIT seed this season than last year despite finishing 13th in the league.

Moos mum on other staffers

Moos applauded the work of Marc Boehm — NU’s executive associate athletic director for basketball — as an administrator.

“Administratively, I can’t imagine they had anything they needed or wanted that they weren’t getting,” Moos said of Miles and his staff.

But Moos didn’t guarantee Boehm would remain in the role overseeing a new coach.

“You’ve got to wait until a new coach is hired and see who he may bring if it’s an established coach,” Moos said. “We certainly have qualified people within our program that I would think, across the board, would be appealing to a new coach. It typically depends on if they’re going to bring their entire staff or part of it or if they want to retain a coach or operations person or video folks or whatever.”

A.D. defends wait to fire Miles

Moos read all the criticism from the media that he should have fired coach Tim Miles earlier in the season or after the Big Ten tournament loss to Wisconsin. He chose to wait until the end of NU’s NIT run — Sunday night — plus a day to make the final call.

He strongly rebuffed any notion he should have done it earlier.

“What would that accomplish?” Moos said. “I let coaches finish their seasons. Unless there’s a behavioral issue. Those players were starting to rally. They didn’t need to lose focus. Assistant coaches were coaching hard. They didn’t need to be worrying about their next job or where they were going to be.

“I don’t think there’s any advantage to terminating someone while you’re still playing.”

Aim for best coach

Nebraska’s athletic department has never had an African-American head coach — in any sport.

Athletic Director Bill Moos knows that, and said he’s been the A.D. to hire the first black coach at a couple of stops. He hired Ernie Kent, a black basketball coach, at both Oregon and Washington State.

“Is that a major factor? No,” Moos said. “I want to get the best coach I feel comfortable with who can represent the university well and care about these young people and do the things I’ve talked about.”

Husker A.D. Bill Moos says Dana Altman not considered for NU job before Oregon extension

LINCOLN — Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos had contacted the top three names on his men’s basketball coaching list prior to firing Tim Miles on Tuesday.

Nebraska native Dana Altman — who coached Creighton for 16 seasons and has Oregon in its third Sweet Sixteen in four years — wasn’t on that list. The 60-year-old Altman recently signed an extension with Oregon through the 2026 season.

Moos said NU did not pursue a conversation with Altman.

“I think Dana’s happy where he’s at and they like him,” Moos said. “He’s a heck of a coach. I think he’s comfortable there. I didn’t talk to him. It’s not that I wouldn’t, if that’s the direction I wanted to go, but he’s winning championships — he was in the Final Four a couple years ago — he’s got a sweet deal. Got a brand new arena, gorgeous. I think he’s pretty content where he’s at.”

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