LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska fired seventh-year coach Tim Miles on Tuesday, and athletic director Bill Moos said he’s spoken with former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to gauge his interest in the job.
Moos announced the firing two days after the Huskers finished a 19-17 season with an 88-72 loss to TCU in the second round of the NIT.
Much was expected of the Huskers this season. They brought back four starters from a 22-win team that was fourth in the Big Ten, and the question among fans and media wasn’t whether Nebraska would be in NCAA Tournament but how deep a run it could make. But the Huskers went into a free fall in January and February, losing 11 of 13 games on their way to a 13th-place finish in the conference.
Miles was 116-114 overall and 52-76 in Big Ten regular-season games. Nebraska was 10th or lower in the conference in five of Miles’ seven years.
“I love his passion, his energy, his charisma, his integrity,” Moos said at a news conference, “but in the end, I didn’t feel we were competing the way I want our programs to compete in the Big Ten Conference.”
Moos anticipated it would take seven to 14 days to name a successor to Miles. He said he has spoken with three or four possible candidates, and he confirmed Hoiberg was one of them.
Asked about Hoiberg’s level of interest, Moos said: “I don’t really have a true answer on that yet.”
There has been speculation for several weeks connecting Hoiberg to the Nebraska job if Miles were fired. Hoiberg, fired in December by the Bulls, has said he’s interested in getting back into coaching at either the NBA or college level. Hoiberg had no comment last Thursday when asked by The Associated Press about Nebraska other than to say, “There are lots of rumors out there.”
The 46-year-old Hoiberg has ties to Nebraska. He was born in Lincoln, and his grandfather, Jerry Bush, was the Cornhuskers’ coach from 1954-63.
Prior to taking the Bulls’ job in 2010, he had enjoyed a successful five-year run as Iowa State’s coach with his up-tempo, spread-the-floor offense. He went 115-56 and led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA Tournaments and two Big 12 Tournament titles.
The only time Miles got the Huskers to the NCAA Tournament was in 2014, when they won eight of their last nine regular-season games to finish fourth in the Big Ten and he was named conference coach of the year. Three straight sub-.500 seasons followed. Last season, Nebraska set a school record with 13 conference wins. But the Huskers were victims of a down year for the Big Ten and weren’t selected for the NCAAs.
The Huskers started this season 13-4 and appeared in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2014. The Huskers were dealt a blow when second-leading scorer and starting lineup fixture Isaac Copeland went out for the season with a knee injury Jan. 26, but by then the season was on its way toward unraveling.
“Thank you to the University of Nebraska for a remarkable journey,” Miles tweeted. “It was a great honor to represent this university the past seven years. 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… My family will always be cheering for the Huskers and look forward to seeing #Nebrasketball make history in the near future.”
The Huskers lost by double digits seven times during the skid, and Miles rankled some fans with one of his comments on a podcast with Jeff Goodman of WatchStadium.com.
“If they fire me, they’re still going to pay me. I’m still a millionaire, so I’ve got that going for me,” Miles said. He later issued an apology.
Under terms of Miles’ contract, which was set to expire in March 2021, he’s owed a $2.52 million buyout.
In a head coaching career dating to 1995, this is the first time the 52-year-old Miles has been fired. Former athletic director Tom Osborne hired the South Dakota native away from Colorado State in 2012 after he led the Rams to a 20-win season and the NCAA Tournament.