Quotes below from Head Coach Fred Hoiberg and Athletic Director Bill Moos
Bill Moos opening statement
“Hello, everybody. This is a special and exciting day for the University of Nebraska and especially for me because I have the honor and privilege to introduce the 28th head coach of Husker basketball, Fred Hoiberg.”
Fred Hoiberg opening statement
“First of all, I want to thank Bill. I want to thank Chancellor Green and President Bounds for this wonderful opportunity. It’s a very emotional day for me, for my family, a lot of whom are sitting over here this afternoon and with great ties to this state, with great ties to this university. It starts with my grandparents. I know a lot has written about my Grandpa (Jerry) Bush, who coached here back in the 50s and 60s. But my other grandfather, Otto Hoiberg, was a history professor here for almost 30 years. To be honest with you, he’s the smartest person that I have ever known, and he moved back to Iowa in his later years and I was able to spend a lot of time with him. Those were very special moments to be able to talk to my grandpa because of how worldly and how smart he was. My parents, who are here today, Eric and Karen, both went to Nebraska. They are alums (1966). Dad went on to get his Master’s in ’69 and his Ph.D. in ‘72, which is the year I was born here at Lincoln General. I don’t remember a lot about Lincoln as a kid. I moved to Ames when I was two, when my dad got a job offer at Iowa State. He also got a job offer at Kansas, so I’ll always say I’m forever grateful to my dad for making the right decision. Also I want to introduce a few other people: my brother, Steve, is here. Steve lives in Omaha now and actually taught at the University of Nebraska-Omaha for many years until his current position with Siemens Corporation. His wife, Carrie, is here, a Nebraska native, and daughter Isabelle – my niece – is in seventh grade, and Emma, who was hired by Coach Miles this last year in the basketball department. My cousin, Joe, is here. He just moved to Lincoln last year. His mother, Bonnie, is also a Nebraska alum. And then my aunt and uncle are here. My uncle Dennis is a Clearwater, Nebraska, legend. He’s a Nebraska high school hall of famer. And my aunt Jane, who also went to Nebraska…you’ll notice Jane at the games. She’ll have one of those basketball hat masks on. She’ll be wearing that, and she’ll be the one with the ‘Go Big Fred’ sign. Thanks for coming.
I also want to introduce my wife, Carol, who is here today. Carol and I, I can’t believe we’ve been together now for 30 years. Though I won’t tell the story, Carol, that you asked me to prom when I was a sophomore back at Ames High School. She’s the rock of our family. When you’re a coach you need a great support system and I have that, and a lot of that has to do with my parents, my brothers and also my wife. Our four kids could not make it today. Our daughter, Paige, is a senior at Kansas. She graduates from Kansas, which just kind of freaks me out that it’s gone as fast as it has. She will graduate in May. Our son, Jack, who we just spent time with this past weekend in Washington D.C, is a player on the Michigan State team. They’re getting ready for the Final Four, which has been a great thrill for our family to see Jack and his team cut down the nets in D.C. just this last week. And then our twins, Sam and Charlie, who we were going to bring, but they missed class on Monday and they’re going to miss class again on Friday, so we felt we should probably keep them in school as much as we can. When you make a move like this you have to have total support from everybody. And we have that, and it’s very special.
The vision that Bill laid out to me when we started talking about this opportunity, I see real potential here to have long-term success. And a lot of that has to do with the facilities that are here. We played an exhibition game a couple years ago when I was coaching for the Bulls, and I was just absolutely amazed. It was actually a really good game against the Mavericks. Doug McDermott hit the game-winner on a sideline out-of-bounds play we call ‘Larry Bird’. That’s neither here nor there. But anyway it was a great moment to see those facilities. We played a closed-door scrimmage against Doc Sadler back in 2011 when the practice facility was just being built, and I’m telling you these facilities are as nice as any in the country. And that’s a very attractive thing when you’re trying to attract recruits to a market like this. And also the fan support is second to none. I was a diehard Husker football growing up as a kid, and it’s just amazing every seat in this stadium has been filled since 1962. And at basketball games you’ll see the atmosphere. I watched a lot of Big Ten basketball this year because of Jack and because of Michigan State. And it’s just such an unbelievable atmosphere. I think Tim Miles did a great job and deserves a lot of credit for bringing excitement to this program, and now it’s our job to build on that and hopefully become a consistent winner.
I talked earlier about my grandfather. It’s such a thrill for me to be able to walk, different buildings but on the same sidelines my grandfather did. It’s pretty amazing. He probably has the best win in the history of Nebraska basketball. They’d lost earlier in the season against a Kansas team led by Wilt Chamberlain (102-46). They asked him before the game, “When did you know you were going to lose?” And he said when we got out of the bus and Wilt reached across the roof and closed the door that way. But then to go back and win that game (two weeks later, 43-41)…it’s not very often you shut school down with a basketball win, but they actually did that the next day, they shut classes down. That following week, to go on and beat Kansas State (55-48), a team led by Bob Boozer who was the No. 1 team in the nation, so that was a really fun week for my grandfather and for my family. I didn’t get to know him very well. He passed away when I was three years old. But to hear the stories…Albert Maxey is here today. He played for my grandfather and has always been great to our family. But I always got letters from my grandfather’s former players, and just to know the impact that he had on their lives. To hear from my grandpa’s players is really cool. To know the type of person my grandfather was and the impact he had in the community here because of the type of personality that he was, is always a lot of fun for me to hear.
So I’m excited about this, guys. I met with the team just a couple minutes before we came down here. I talked to them about the opportunity that we have moving forward. This is such a special time of year. The greatest sporting event in the world is going on right now, the NCAA Tournament. I challenged them with the amount of work it takes. I was fortunate enough to play 10 years in the NBA, and I didn’t play because I was the most athletic. I didn’t play because I was the most gifted. The reason I played was because I was the hardest worker. Nobody was going to out-work me. That’s how I got to that level, and that’s what I’m going to demand and expect out of our players, is to go out every day and give everything we can and put an exciting product on the floor that will make our fans proud. And that’s what we’re going to strive to do. Starting the week after the Final Four, we’re going to get going with our workouts. We’re fortunate enough to have a foreign trip this year, so we’ll get a head start to the season over in Italy. There’s a lot of work to do. I hit the road tomorrow. We’re going to get in the plane and we’re going to go out and see some kids and get this thing moving right away. And we lose a lot. There’s a lot of really good players that are graduating from this institution, and we’ve got a lot to replace. Again, our players understand that and we know we have to do everything possible to put ourselves in a position where we’re going to be successful and be a consistent winner.”
Moos on the timeline between first contact with Fred (Hoiberg) and his camp and today
“Here is a little known fact and I think it needs to be pointed out, we have a great fraternity of coaches here. Fred joins some other very, very gifted coaches and they all stick together. I had one of them, who is a great coach himself, ask to come meet with me. That was Mark Hankins, our men’s golf coach who has won a few Big Ten Championships himself. He brought Fred’s name up to me and I said, ‘How do you know about Fred Hoiberg,’ and he goes, “He is my classmate and my great friend and we were roommates in college.” I was intrigued because my boys know all about Fred and all he accomplished as a great college player and 10 years in the NBA… he was coach of the Bulls. That is pretty good credentials. I learned about Fred and his family and his incredible integrity and the things that are important to me.
You got to remember, during that time I was supporting my coaches and where we were going. We were in a bit of a slump then, so I catalogued that in my mind and went about my business. Later on, I thought it might be smart to maybe just meet the gentleman and I did. That was on March 4th, and we sat down for a little bit in Chicago just to get to know each other. As you all know, I like to look at options and if I did have to make a something different or a change, I wanted to make sure I had my list in order. You’ve heard about the list, so that’s that.”
Hoiberg on why he decided to come back to the college level
“That’s a great question. I thought a lot about that. First of all, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I had in Chicago. I am very grateful that they gave me a chance to coach at that level. It was a hard decision. I had great years at Iowa State, my alma mater. I could have probably stayed there a long time. It was a very difficult decision that my wife and my family talked a lot about, and we just felt that we wanted to take that opportunity to coach at the highest level for a storied franchise and we did that. There are some things we did that I’m proud of while we were there. Year one, we led the league in a category you don’t want to lead in, we led in injuries. We had 10 rotation players that missed double-digit games including two starters that missed over 50 and just one of those years we were inconsistent, we couldn’t get on that proper consistent roll that we needed to be on and we ended up missing the playoffs by a game. That following year, we brought Dwayne Wade in, and his lovely wife, Gabrielle Union, who is a Nebraska native, and we talked a lot about Nebraska football actually when they came to Chicago. We brought (Rajon) Rondo in, we had some ups and downs but I thought we were playing as well as any team in the East at the end of that season, and you know we make the playoffs and we’re up 2-0 before Rondo broke his thumb. Who knows what would have happened if we won that series. That following season we rebuilt, which was the right move. I was very happy, we had a six week stretch where we were happy. We had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. We really did a good job with the development of our players. This last season, the change was made almost halfway through the season, so again, a learning experience. My thing going into this year was I wanted to be in a good situation, whatever level that may be, and I did talk to some other schools and I didn’t know when a NBA possibility was going to open up. But when I did look at it, I didn’t really see something that excited me. We talked a lot about this. We debated it, and we just came to this final decision about four days ago that we were actually going to do this. Contrary to the rumors that were out there that this thing has been done for a while, it hasn’t. One thing my wife and I talked about was we want this to be our last stop and we’re excited about this. Again, a lot of it is because of our family history here, but maybe as import are the facilities and the resources that you have and the fan support. It’s going to be second to none. We feel that we can build a program that consistently wins, but that’s what went into it. It was a difficult decision when you have kids that are comfortable in their current positions. To move them and uproot them, a lot goes into those decisions. So when we did finally come to it and sat down as a family, everybody was supportive of me.”
On how competing in another conference and in the NBA will help him compete in the Big Ten
“I think it helps me a lot. I can promise you this, I’m a lot better coach right now because of my years in the NBA than I was before when I got there and you have to be when you’re coaching against the best minds in the basketball world and that helped make me a better coach. The years we had at Iowa State, I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished there and I’m really happy with that way that program has continued to evolve in a positive direction under the leadership of Steve Prohm. I think he’s done an incredible job there continuing on with the group and again another good class that he has right now. When you coach at the different levels, the good thing for me is I’ve seen it at every level. I’ve seen it as a player in a power conference, I’ve seen it as a player in the NBA, different rosters, on experienced teams, on young teams where I was the captain, as a front office executive who spent some time as a general manager, and now going back to coach in college and the NBA. So I’ve had again pretty much every way you can look at it and I’ve taken on those experiences and I know I have a long ways to grow. When I was let go, I’ll always remember what day it was, it was my wife’s birthday on December 3rd. It was something where I took those next couple months and really reflected. What could I have done better? What did I like that we did and how can we improve going forward? I think everybody that has been in that position that I was recently in as far as a coach that has been let go – pretty much all of us who have been in coaching, that’s happened at one point or another. You grow from it, you get better from it and the next opportunity you have, you do it the best you can.”
On what he thinks the team will look like when they are clicking
“The first thing that we try to do, we try to play with great pace. That was one thing that we always tried to have, especially if you look back on my teams at Iowa State. Now we did that in different ways. My first year we had a point guard Diante Garrett who was really a good player and we had a couple plays that he could shoot it. So we ran a lot of pick and roll, pick-and-pop type actions. My second year we had a kid named Royce White who was a transfer from Minnesota, and we put the ball in his hands because we felt he was our advantage mismatch. We led the nation in 3-pointers that year because he could draw the defense and spread the floor out with five around the perimeter, and he would make the defense converge and make the right play. So I’ve done it different ways but the one thing that is consistent is the fast-paced, exciting brand of basketball that we want to play. And again, you have to be in great shape to do that, you have to have the right personnel to do that. We’ll see how that is with this roster. I’ve watched some games, I haven’t seen a lot yet. I plan to go back and watch all the games from last year, with the addition of some of the players that are coming here in this year, which I’m really excited about. We’ll try to put the right system together, try to take advantage of their skillsets.”
On how quickly he thinks he thinks he can get the team up the level he thinks it should be at and how hard he’ll hit the transfer market
“My first year at Iowa State we took over a team that had four or five scholarship players and there wasn’t a lot of expectations that year but we went out that first season and put together a .500 record, a 16-16 record, which was respectable. That group was as fun a group as I’ve ever had to coach, it was a group of six guys that we played, with a couple others that played spot minutes. But those guys were great, they bought into what we were trying to do and really set the tone and set a culture for what we wanted everything to look like. Then I had a group of four transfers that sat out that I knew when they became eligible we’d have a chance to be pretty special. And then those next four years we ended up building on that making NCAA tournaments. But my philosophy as far as recruiting, we just want to get the best talent as possible on the floor, however that may be. When we were at Iowa State, we started that with transfers but what that led to, once we got our style of play established and had some success, is that led to some really good four-year players. That got our foot in the door because we were always in the top 10, top 15 in the nation in offensive efficiency and teams like how we played. The other thing we did was we gave our guys the chance to be successful and play at the next level. I’m proud of the fact that we had nine guys that played in the NBA on those five years we were there. The ones that didn’t play in the NBA, a lot of those guys are making great livings playing overseas at a high level. I think once we establish the way we want to play, and again you get the recruits on campus and they see these beautiful facilities, we’re going to have a chance. We’re going to have a chance at any kid that walks in here.”
On what he should say to Iowa State fans who may feel bewildered by the hiring
“I don’t know, what should I say to them? Again, I love the direction of Iowa State basketball. I feel like I played a pretty important part in the success that program is having. I think the world of Steve Prohm. I love what he’s doing and I’m excited that they extended him again. He can continue to lead that program to greater and greater heights, but I’m proud of what we did there. Listen, when you go to school some place and grow up in a town and you were part of something special, I think you can always hold on to that. It was a great run, I loved everything that we did and I love going back. I always try to get back for a football game and I went back for a basketball game this year, I spoke to the team. It’s something that’s a lot of fun for me to watch. As far as what do you say, again I’m excited about the direction of Iowa State basketball. I’ll always be a fan because I’m an alum of the university. They’ve got a great thing going, and I hope that they support the situation that I’m in now and that they would be excited for where we are because it’s something that my family feels very good about.”
On his initial interactions with Bill Moos
“It really was kind of a get-to-know-you meeting. I think the world of Tim Miles, he’s a guy that I’ve had a really good relationship with and he’s done a lot of great things for my family, not only hiring my niece Emma. He’s done a lot of great things to recognize some of my grandfather’s work, and I’ve talked to him a lot about that. I talked to him two days ago, I had a really good conversation with him. It really was hard for me to see all of the rumors that were out there, because I didn’t want to disrupt what was going on. He was coaching the team, he had a group of guys that were playing very well and I did not want to be disruptive in that.
The initial meeting with Bill (Moos), I told him, ‘If you want to get to know each other a little bit, great. But let’s wait and see how this thing goes, if you do decide to go a different direction.’ When that happened, we went back and forth a lot. My wife and I woke up one day and I said, ‘I don’t have any interest. I’ve enjoyed going to yoga with you, going to get coffee and going to get the girls.’ One of my coaches called me one time and he was just miserable, he was miserable. They had a bad week, and he said, ‘What are you doing right now?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m sitting here at my table doing a puzzle in my robe and watching The Price is Right.’ Pretty good, I liked it. So, we thought about sitting out this year. We thought about maybe seeing what opens up in the NBA, but this situation with Bill, once the decision was made to move in a new direction, we were very attracted to it. A, we see Bill’s vision. B, because of the facilities and again, three years ago or whenever that game was, to be able to see that and say, ‘My goodness, this is beautiful,’ it’s not typical of a college arena to have this and to have the practice facility and everything about it and the support. So, we put everything together and that’s when we decided to make a move.”
On his timeline for success
“Wouldn’t it be great if we all had crystal balls? Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we had that? You know what, I don’t know. I met with the players for the first time today and had the opportunity to talk with a few of them on the phone. Again, we didn’t have really high expectations on the first year we took over a program that didn’t have very many scholarship players and I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed we’d be back in the NCAA tournament in year two. I’m going into this with an open mind, and I know this is a group of guys who are going to work extremely hard. I loved the meeting today, you looked up and everybody had eye contact. We’re all going to meet individually on Friday to lay out expectations and what our schedule is going to be like moving forward for this spring before they go home for the break. So again, I think if we come in here and we work, my message is the same for every team – if we’re the hardest working and the most together team, we’re going to have a chance, and that’s what we’re going to strive to do.”
On the rivalry with the Iowa Hawkeyes
“It was a fun rivalry to play in, there’s no doubt about that. And one of the greatest games I ever saw was in Hilton Coliseum when I was sitting underneath the basket as a ball boy and watched Lafester Rhodes pouring 54 against Iowa. One of the most incredible games I’ve ever witnessed. To play in that rivalry was a lot of fun. To coach in that rivalry was a lot of fun. I think Fran (McCaffery) has done an incredible job at the University of Iowa. Now back in the Big Ten, it’ll be the first time we’ve played each other twice in the season. I have great respect for Fran, for his family and for the way he runs the program.”
On if raising the program’s expectations goes hand in hand with raising the program’s national profile
“That’s a great question. I don’t know what the expectations will be, we’ll see what they are. We lose a lot. Again, a world of (James) Palmer Jr., hell of a player. You look at (Glynn) Watson Jr., you lose (Isaac) Copeland Jr. obviously, I know that was a tough blow with the injuries. You know, we’ll see what happens with the transfers and with quarrel and all that and the early entry candidates. You know, we’ll see. I don’t know what the roster is going to look like at this point so it’s hard to put expectations on a team when you don’t exactly what things look like. But again, I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t fully expect to turn it around and win consistently. And I talked about Tim (Miles) earlier, he did a great job of making basketball exciting here at Nebraska. And again, it’s a hard job now to go out and be a consistent winner. And that’s what we’re going to strive to do.”
On being able to duplicate success with Iowa State at Nebraska
“Again, I do see great potential here. There’s no question about that. A big thing for us is if you can get these kids on campus, there’s a lot of great things to sell. And that’s going to be something we’re going to do. Right now is a quiet, dead period as far as recruiting until the Final Four is over. But as soon as that is done, we expect to get some high level kids in here and hopefully sell them on what we have to offer and put a really good, competitive team on the floor next year.”
On added staff and what they’ll bring to program
“The only one I can talk about is Matt (Abdelmassih). Matt’s the only one who has signed his contract, we’re still in talks with some of the other ones. Matt is a guy that I hired as an intern actually when I was in the front office as an Assistant G.M. in Minneapolis, and Matt came in and I could tell right away how good he was. And the most impressive thing about Matt was his ability to build a relationship. And that’s what’s so important at any level, is to be able to connect with the players and connect with the kids. And Matt’s as good as I’ve ever seen, not only with kids but with coaches and families and that’s what makes him a great recruiter. And he’s going to put us in front of some really high-level players and it’s up to us to show how we’re going to play and show film of what we’re going to do and show these facilities. But Matt I think as good of a recruiter as there is in the country and I’m excited to have him on board.”
On teaching players to shoot smart shots
“Oh, you’ll see us play. Some people will look at the guy next to them and say, “What the hell was that shot?” I think all five years we led the Big 12 in three-point shooting and one year we led the nation in three-point shooting. You know, a big thing for our team, you can play fast but you really have to drill it. Because if you don’t you’re going to be throwing that thing all over the mat. And I love shooting threes in transition and before the defense gets set. If we can come down, run a ball screen, make a team execute pick-and-roll defense early in a possession and play off it with good spacing, we’re going to have a chance to get great looks and great shots. We’re going to look at it hard. We have a skill development program that I think we’re all very confident with and is proven to make players better and more skilled.”
On how the landscape of college basketball has changed since being at Iowa State
“It is not that much different, I don’t think. There is more transfers in the game now than there was… there was a lot when I took over at Iowa State, but there was 1,000 kids in that transfer portal. Back when we first started at Iowa State, there wasn’t a lot of schools that were taking transfers. You still would see if you could sprinkle them in to help with rosters, but now it is a pretty big part of teams and how they manufacture a group of players and a roster. That maybe would be as big a thing as any. We got Royce (White) when we were competing against Kentucky. We were fortunate that Kentucky was too far away from home for Royce, but now you’re competing against a lot more schools when you look at that transfer pool.”
On if he anticipates being able to help Scott Frost
“Scott came and said hello to me today. He actually called me this morning. Very nice of him to reach out. Yeah, I plan on being on the sidelines. I told him I was with Matt Nagy… I got to know Matt Nagy and the Bears here this last year pretty well. I went and spent a day with Matt and the Bears and just watched how he did it and everything. He had a great offensive mind, so I am going to give Scott a few things to look at. [laughs]
That is one thing. You know, growing up a huge Nebraska fan, I was offered a scholarship by Tom Osborne back in high school. That was such a thrill for me to be recruited by a guy that I looked up to. He was kind of a larger than life figure, to be honest with you when you grow up a Nebraska football fan. Those were the Tommie Frazier years… I am actually really convinced that he would’ve put 50 pounds on me and made me a tight end. I probably wouldn’t be here today. I could’ve been Gronk before Gronk was Gronk. Yeah, that was fun to be recruited. Again, I think the world of Scott and I am really looking forward to it. That is another thing about Iowa State, we had a great community of coaches and we all were very close and I look forward to building those same relationships with the entire staff.”
On what the response is with recruits and how he will sell Nebraska
“I have had really good conversations with the three guys. With Jervay (Green), Mika (Adams-Woods) and Akol (Arop). That is going to be a big thing this week. Getting out and seeing those guys and talking to them and hopefully securing their commitments. I understand, it is tough when a change is made and they all have great questions for me. The important thing now is to get in front of them and to start building a relationship where they’re comfortable with us and with our current staff.”
Moos on expectations for the Nebraska athletic department with Frost/Hoiberg hire
“I think we’re in real good shape. I have actually hired five new head coaches since I have been here, and they are all very high caliber and join a nucleus of very talented individuals. This is a special day and a fun day. There is excitement in the air, not unlike what you are referring to with football. The expectations are just this: This is a tremendous university and we are showing improvements in the athletic arena as well as academically across this campus. We are truly a destination for the very best. I expect these coaches to be here for a long time and we are going to see a tremendous amount of respect and I think we are going to have a lot of fun.”