Miles Fired 3.26

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos addresses the decision to fire basketball coach Tim Miles on Tuesday. "We can move this program up to competing consistently in the Big Ten," he said.

Things I know, and things I think I know:

Some folks already are contemplating a Bill Moos statue. Or statues.

But others will continue to peck away at the second-year Nebraska athletic director, pointing out his shortcomings (or making them up), in part because that's what prominent leaders face more often than ever before in this age of anger and burner accounts.

Moos, though, is on a roll. Think about it this way: A major college athletic director's three foremost objectives are to raise money and to hire high-grade football and men’s basketball head coaches, thereby making fundraising easier. So, Moos first lands Scott Frost and now Fred Hoiberg. The hires have energized the state and put Moos in a position of strength. He seemingly has momentum and leverage.

What's next in his bag of tricks? I'm speculating, but it might have to do with comments he made to the Journal Star late last year.

"There are facilities in football that I believe need to be upgraded," he said. "I don't know if it's necessary to do it immediately, but we do need to have a long-range plan to address some of those things and we're in those conversations as we speak."

I think improved Nebraska football facilities (read: locker room, meeting rooms, training facilities and various bells and whistles) should be a priority for Moos, and perhaps the next big priority. In fact, I'm guessing the planning conversations to which he refers are farther along than he lets on. At least I hope that's the case because even Moos points out NU ranks "probably eighth or ninth" in the Big Ten in this area.

The possibility of Memorial Stadium renovations also looms. What's more, Moos has mentioned a new golf practice facility and a natatorium for Husker swimming.

So, yes, Moos has plenty to consider. But he knows that in terms of football facilities, Nebraska in its own conference division lags behind Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa and perhaps even Purdue. Northwestern's $270 million facility (the hub for the entire athletic department) includes a virtual reality training space where the quarterback can strap on headgear and simulate plays.

Even Illinois broke ground last December on a $79.2 million football performance center.

"I want to be aggressive and yet we also want to be smart and really make sure, as we develop funding models for any of our facilities, that they are solid and realistic," Moos said recently. "That's really where we are right now on a variety of three, four, five facility needs that I think are important. Certainly we can get by and I think we can be competitive without (upgrades)."

That said, the message from Moos' superiors (namely Ronnie Green and Hank Bounds) is Nebraska teams need to do more than "get by." Hoiberg's hire is much more than a "get-by" move. Frost wasn't hired so the football program could merely "get by."

Bottom line, Nebraska athletics is in a very strong place financially. Plus, the brand just got shinier. Optimism is running high.

If Moos can pull off a major football facilities upgrade in the near future, I wonder what his naysayers would say then.

* During the course of writing a lot about Hoiberg in recent days, I've emphasized that Nebraska perhaps now can get to a point where it's surprising when the program doesn't make the NCAA Tournament. The program has the resources to live in that realm. In fact, it occupied that realm, or something close to it, during the Danny Nee years.

I have to remind myself sometimes that Nee took four straight teams to the Big Dance during the early 1990s.

"I think Danny proved that he was able to attract the level of player it took to win in the Big Eight -- they won the Big Eight Tournament championship (in 1994) -- and he had several NCAA Tournament teams, and we were fortunate to win the NIT in 1996," said Andy Markowski, a freshman from Ord on the NIT championship squad.

The Huskers also went to the NCAA Tournament in 1998 under Nee. What kept those teams from breaking through with a win in the Dance?

"Coach Nee was an unbelievable recruiter, a manager of people," Markowski said. "Looking back, we probably had some deficiencies in X's and O's and execution. You look at my senior year (in 1998-99), we averaged 16 or 17 turnovers a game. When you have some of those flaws in your execution, it's hard to even get in the tournament."

* I called Erick Strickland, perhaps the toughest defender to ever to play for Nebraska, for comment about the Hoiberg hire. He couldn't comment for an interesting reason: He's training in Texas to be a college basketball referee and eventually would like to officiate in the Big Ten. Good luck to one of our state's all-time best all-around athletes.

* High five to Jessica Shepard. She transferred from Nebraska to Notre Dame and is a double-double machine. Zillions of hours of practice as a kid are paying off on the national stage. She has one national title ring. Two would be the stuff of dreams. Or maybe she expects it.

The great ones think big.

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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