NCAA volleyball final, Nebraska vs. Florida, 12/16/17

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green (from left), athletic director Bill Moos and NU President Hank Bounds join the celebration of the Huskers' NCAA volleyball championship Dec. 16, 2017, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

My read is Bill Moos has a strong handle on the situation at hand.

He projected a lot of confidence Tuesday. I don't think he came close to breaking a sweat.

But never mind what I think.

"I am completely confident in what Bill Moos is doing," said University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, referring to the Husker athletic director's decision to fire men's basketball coach Tim Miles.

Bounds also expressed confidence in Moos' ability to land the right successor. I remain extremely confident the successor will be Fred Hoiberg.

Moos said a new coach will be formally introduced in seven to 14 days. So, a plausible scenario: Hoiberg will be introduced in the middle of next week. The plan would essentially be for Hoiberg to win his introductory news conference, then go "win the lobby" of hotels in Minneapolis during the NCAA Final Four April 6-8.

High school and AAU coaches will descend upon Minneapolis. Hoiberg can gather his new staff and shake the hands of people who just may send players to the hot new job in college basketball.

Yeah, I'm talking about Nebraska. Miles was an excellent ambassador for the program. He showed class to the end. As Moos stated, Miles is a "good" coach. But Nebraska can do better. It needs to do better than Miles' 116-114 record at the school, including 52-76 in Big Ten play.

He reached one NCAA Tournament in seven years at Nebraska. That's not enough. Please don't throw the program's lackluster history in my face. The program's evolved into something much different from what Joe Cipriano, Moe Iba, Danny Nee, Barry Collier and Doc Sadler experienced. Miles deserves credit for helping the evolution. But it's time for someone else to take it to another level.

Make no mistake, Moos is thinking big. I asked him if Nebraska could regularly reach the NCAA Tournament. Is that pushing it?

“I don’t think it’s pushing it too far to think three out of five years," he said.

That'll be music to the ears of many long-suffering Nebraska hoops fans. The Huskers were participants in the Big Dance in four straight years (1991-94) under Danny Nee, but never won a game. He went back in 1998 and still came up empty. The program's tournament drought continued until Miles caught lightning in a bottle in 2014 and went on to a first-round loss to Baylor. Miles never made it back to the Dance. NU still has never won in it. Unreal.

Moos noted eight Big Ten teams made the tournament this year, with seven winning their first game.

“Why can’t we be one of those?” he asked.

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Nebraska now has the resources to think big. Moos said NU can pay the going rate for top coaches. He proved it by paying Scott Frost $5 million annually. For the hoops coach, I'm guessing Moos means in the $3.2 to $3.8 million range. 

Nebraska has the facilities and fan passion to think big in basketball. It's all in place. The key now is getting the right coach. Hoiberg makes a lot of sense. The moment the 46-year-old steps on Nebraska's campus, he would be the most accomplished head coach in the history of the program, having guided Iowa State to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Sweet 16 in 2013-14.

Expectations for Nebraska's program would rise dramatically. And, yes, I think he could win a news conference here. They call him the Mayor in Iowa for a reason. He's extremely popular. You probably already know that his grandfather, Jerry Bush, coached the Huskers from 1954-63. You might even know that Bush’s 1958 team beat Wilt Chamberlain. There will be plenty of time for Hoiberg history in coming weeks.

For now, I'm interested in the sort of history Moos is making. Frost, Hoiberg and John Cook. Are you kidding me?

Moos would be responsible for hiring two of them. Still, I'm guessing his detractors will pick away at him. In late January, he dismissed rumors that alcohol has negatively affected his performance. Bounds and UNL chancellor Ronnie Green put out a joint statement expressing strong support for Moos.

On Tuesday morning, I texted Bounds to congratulate him on his decision to step down from his current position to spend more time with family. He called me a short time later. Our discussion soon turned toward Moos. I asked Bounds if he felt Moos was handling the Miles situation well, particularly the part regarding Moos sticking to his policy of allowing coaches to finish the season before terminating. 

National columnists, perhaps unaware of the policy, took swipes at Moos, suggesting he left Miles hanging. It all seemed ridiculous considering Moos' clearly stated stance regarding the policy.

"These are the kinds of jobs where everyone questions every move," Bounds said. "But there’s nothing inconsistent about what Bill has said and what he’s doing. Bottom line, we hired Bill to do a job. Bill explained to me his rationale. This is about coaches, but it’s also about student-athletes. I think we sometimes lose the student-athlete in these issues.”

The student-athletes playing for Miles thoroughly enjoyed the night when they beat Butler in the NIT in raucous Pinnacle Bank Arena.

There was a lot of needless clamor leading to the announcement of Miles' dismissal. I imagine there will be more needless clamor before the next big announcement.

Moos can handle it all. He showed that Tuesday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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