Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts ended speculation about Fred Hoiberg’s future on Thursday night by announcing that the head coach would return for the 2022-23 season.
After the Huskers loss to Iowa in the final home game of the season on Friday night—which dropped the team to 7-21 on the season including 1-16 in Big Ten play—Hoiberg spoke about the vote of confidence from Alberts.
“First and foremost, we absolutely love it here,” Hoiberg said. “I’m thankful to be the coach here. I want to be the coach here for a long time. Obviously, the season has not gone the way any of us expected or hoped and it’s very discouraging. It’s been a very, very difficult year, as difficult a year as I’ve ever been through, and to have the support of Trev, of our leadership, means the world to me. Messages of support, Coach Osborne reaching out to me, those things mean the world to me. There are a lot of people that have sent me positive messages.
“I know there’s the other and I get it; believe me, I understand that. I know what this business is. It’s a win-loss league and we have not won in the three years we’ve been here. So we’ll do everything in our power to get this thing going, to turn it around, to hopefully give our fans something to cheer about and be proud of. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to continue on and we’re hopefully going to get this thing rolling and win some games.”
As part of his return, Hoiberg agreed to a restructured contract—dropping his salary to $3.25 million, forfeiting a $500,000 stay bonus and reducing his buyout next season to $11 million—after laying out his plan for moving forward in a series of regular sit-downs with Alberts.
“We’ve had quite a few meetings and sat in there and talked about a lot of things,” Hoiberg said. “I’m not going to get into specifics about what we talked about, but I felt it was the right thing to do was to do that. I’m not going to talk exactly what happened; I’m sure it’ll probably come out eventually. But it’s something that I want to show my commitment. I want to show my commitment to be here and, again, hopefully I’m here for a long time.”
Alberts alluded to changes that Hoiberg will make after the season, but Hoiberg declined to provide any further details with three games plus the Big Ten Tournament remaining.
Veterans Derrick Walker and Alonzo Verge Jr. spoke after the game as well and addressed the news of Hoiberg’s return.
“That’s exciting for him,” said Walker, the only scholarship player who has been in Lincoln for Hoiberg’s entire three-season tenure. “There’s been a lot of buzz, just in the media about him and a lot of it’s negative. He doesn’t want to leave, and obviously he doesn’t want the record to show what it shows right now. So I still think he needs time to just prove himself because he can do it … He’s played at the [next] level, he’s coached at the [next] level, he’s won at another college so it’s nothing that he’s never done.”
Before Walker had even finished his thought, Verge cut in to offer his own support for his head coach.
“He’s really a good coach,” Verge said. “He’s really detailed and he’s going to tell you the inside-out, you’re gong to know your personnel, you’re going to know who’s the shooter, who’s not the shooter because of Coach. He works so hard. After games we get on a flight and the first thing he does is watch film. So he’s a hell of a coach, man. He’s a hell of a coach and I would play for him any day, honestly. I really respect Coach as a coach for sure.”
As a graduate transfer from Arizona State, Verge has only spent one season playing for Hoiberg, but he spoke prior to the game about the impact Hoiberg has had on his development as a point guard this season.
Unlike Verge, Walker still has another season of eligibility if he chooses to take advantage of it. “Culture” was a popular topic following Kobe Webster’s midseason radio comments. Walker shared his thoughts on how Hoiberg has attempted to build a culture in Lincoln.
“He’s done a good job of it,” Walker said. “But if any of you have a relationship with Fred, he’s not an angry guy. He’s a chill guy. So if he doesn’t have to yell at you and be on you all the time, he doesn’t want to, but it’s his job so he will because he has to. But he’s a chill guy. So if you if you do the right things, life will be easy.”
After three straight 20-loss seasons (after none in the first 123 seasons of the program), Nebraska is facing a steep uphill climb back to Big Ten contention. Plenty of uncertainty remains heading into the offseason, but following Alberts’ announcement at least one thing is clear: Hoiberg will be back to attempt to lead the Huskers up that mountain in 2022-23.