While Nebraska was in the process of losing a fourth straight game Tuesday night to No. 24 Wisconsin at home, Athletic Director Bill Moos was in his usual box suite. In jeans and a gray hoodie, he watched the Huskers drop a sixth game in eight tries.
One night later, he said his head basketball coach isn’t going anywhere… for now.
“Tim Miles is our basketball coach. I support him,” Moos said during his monthly appearance on Husker Sports Nightly. “I want to win every game from here on out, I think we’re capable of that. It’s unfortunate that we have some injury things that we’re concerned with now, but we need to bounce back and play well and we can still have a very, very good season.”
Tuesday night, after the loss, Miles made sure to note there are still 10 conference games remaining for the Huskers. In terms of the Big Ten schedule, Nebraska still has half a season to play. There’s certainly time to turn the ship around for Husker basketball, but it’s also clear that Miles is aware of what is expected of him and Moos is unflinching on what he’s asking for.
“I’ve made four coaching changes since I’ve been here and I’m not going to say there’s going to be more because I love our coaches, but they know what’s expected of them and it’s realistic,” Moos said.
Following a 22-11 season last year, Miles’ contract was extended only one year (to give him three total on his current deal, including this 2018-19 season). At the time, Moos offered support of his coach but said the success of 2017-18 needed to carry over to this year. Namely, Moos wants the Huskers in the NCAA Tournament. Wins weren’t enough last season in a down Big Ten with a poor nonconference schedule and Nebraska settled for the NIT (and what became a first-round exit).
The expectation entering this season was tournament or bust. As the Huskers’ slide has continued — dropping a once 11-2 team now down to 13-8 — pressure has mounted and talk about Miles’ future has grown louder. But as was his operating procedure with former football coach Mike Riley, Moos seems intent on letting the season play out absent a personnel change.
“I will not disrupt [the season with a firing] and I support Tim and his staff and our great players and everything we’re doing right now,” Moos said. “We’ll asses it at the end of the year. That’s always been my practice.”
Still, Moos revealed he has a shortlist of basketball coaches already who could take over at Nebraska in the event Miles is out of the picture. But, he said, that’s always been his practice over a decades-long run as a major athletic director.
“You never know when a coach may be leaving, whether they want to or maybe they need to,” Moos said. “I always like to be prepared to get out and get a replacement made as fast as possible.
“When I was at Oregon and Mike Bellotti was my head coach in football, I had that list assembled with three or four top names because in one season after the Ducks finished second in the nation, he was offered the jobs at Ohio State, USC, and Notre Dame. I had to be ready in the event that he left.”
Moos said he had Scott Frost on a short list of football coaching candidates even back when he was still running Washington State’s athletic department and Mike Leach was winning with the Cougars. It’s his nature to do his due diligence and be prepared for any scenario. Should Nebraska’s season get back on track and the Huskers find a way to earn a tournament bid, Miles has a strong case to be made.
If not, we’ll see what happens.
Other News and Notes
>> In the face of public speculation about his job security, Moos reiterated that he isn’t going anywhere and isn’t changing how he conducts himself.
>> The Runzas are gone from Pinnacle Bank Arena, but it isn’t Nebraska’s fault. It’s PBA’s.
“I miss them as much as you do,” Moos said to a caller who wanted to know where they went.
>> On several occasions early on, Moos referenced facilities. It seems the Huskers are looking to upgrade football facilities in the near future and Moos remains a very public advocate of that.
“We’ve got a large percentage of everything in place to be successful in every sport,” he said. “We’ve got to address a couple things facility-wise, but our budgets, our travel budgets, our salaries, our benefits, all the student services … there’s none finer.
“Throughout my career, I've been known as a facilities person. I think that's what attracts young people.”
>> One thing Moos is not an advocate of, though, is paying student-athletes. When asked what changes he sees coming to college football in the future, Moos went straight to a conversation about amateurism. “The reward is education,” Moos said when talking about scholarships being compensation enough.
The athletic director was questioned further by a caller later but said he won’t change his stance on the matter. It’s student-athlete, he said, not athlete-student and the emphasis should be on the education side of things.
Moos also said the total cost of one student-athlete in a major sport like football is upwards of $200,000 a year when factoring in everything the athlete gets from the university (i.e. housing, nutrition, stipends, equipment, team gear and more).
>> Asked about overall program success in his first 15 months, Moos said he wants people to take be a little more patient when evaluating the program. He touted John Cook’s volleyball program as the shining example of where all Husker sports need to get, but said that success doesn’t happen overnight.
“I want our program to be judged in another 18 to 24 months because there are no quick fixes,” he said. “We want to build a sustainable program so if we do stub our toe, it’s not a house of cards that falls to pieces.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.