The Fred Hoiberg-to-Nebraska discussion has begun to pick up serious steam.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Journal Star there has been contact between Nebraska and Hoiberg, and discussions are advanced. Hoiberg-to-Nebraska rumors have been swirling for weeks, and reports began to surface Monday afternoon on Twitter that the Iowa State legend was indeed in Nebraska's crosshairs.
The sources told the Journal Star that the former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls head coach would be a strong candidate for the Nebraska men's basketball head coach position should Tim Miles be fired.
Miles, of course, is still employed by the university. He and the Huskers (18-16) are set to host Butler Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.
Nebraska was 15-15 and in danger of missing out on postseason play entirely before rallying to beat Iowa in the regular-season finale, then winning two games and pushing Wisconsin to the end at the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago last week.
In seven seasons at Nebraska, Miles has compiled a 115-113 record and gone 52-76 in Big Ten play.
While it is unclear who at Nebraska has made contact with Hoiberg, NU athletic director Bill Moos has in the past used intermediaries when contacting football coaches Mike Leach at Washington State and Scott Frost at Nebraska.
Should Nebraska move on from Miles, Hoiberg would be perhaps the closest thing to a unanimously agreed-upon solution among Nebraska fans.
"If Fred wants to have my job, he can probably have my job," Miles said last month on a podcast with national college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman. "But I don’t pay any attention to that, and I don’t begrudge it. I’m just doing as good a job as I can."
The Mayor (a nickname earned during his playing days at Iowa State) was born in Lincoln. His niece works in the Nebraska basketball office. His grandfather, Jerry Bush, coached at NU from 1954 to 1963 and was on the NU bench for one of the biggest upsets in Nebraska history — a 43-41 win over Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in 1958. The ties are plentiful.
"As a competitor, you get used to that grind (of coaching)," Hoiberg told The Des Moines Register in February. "For the first couple weeks (after getting fired by Chicago), I didn’t know what to do. I’d wake up, my wife would drag me to this yoga class that she does. I'd have coffee with my wife and her friends, and we'd talk about the Real Housewives of Something."
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He has connections at every level of basketball and even has a good resource on the inner workings of Husker hoops — former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler was an assistant under Hoiberg at Iowa State in 2013-14.
Still relatively young (46 years old) by coaching standards, Hoiberg went 115-56 in five seasons at Iowa State from 2010 to 2015, taking the Cyclones to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and winning 23 or more games each of his final four seasons. He won a pair of Big 12 Tournament titles and went 49-39 in league play. Take out his first season, when the Cyclones were 3-13 in conference play, and Hoiberg was 46-26 against league opponents.
Hoiberg signed a fully guaranteed, five-year, $25 million contract with the Bulls in June of 2015 before being fired this season, meaning the Bulls will pay him $5 million this year and next.
In March of 2013, Hoiberg agreed to a 10-year, $20 million contract with Iowa State, and received a $600,000 raise from the school in April of 2014 that bumped his average salary to $2.6 million per year.
Miles is scheduled to be paid $2.5 million this year and the same amount next year, according to the terms of his contract.
Hoiberg went 115-155 with one playoff appearance in just more than three seasons as the Bulls' coach. Saddled with an injury-ridden and poorly constructed roster this season, Hoiberg was fired in January after the Bulls started 5-19.
He was a legendary college player at Iowa State and had his number 32 retired by the school after leading the Cyclones to three NCAA Tournaments in four seasons in the early 1990s.
Among the biggest questions surrounding Hoiberg's potential move to Lincoln are what other jobs open up in coming weeks. Hoiberg will be a prime candidate for any number of power conference jobs and could even return to the NBA sideline or front office.
But it appears Hoiberg would prefer coaching in either college or the NBA to a job in an NBA front office.
"My passion is in coaching," Hoiberg told ESPN in January, "and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead."