ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Iowa State icon Hoiberg likely headed to coach Chicago Bulls

AMES, Iowa -- So what if seemingly everyone with a reporter's notebook and Twitter handle says it's a done deal. Until the official word comes that Fred Hoiberg has become the Chicago Bulls coach, Iowa State alum and Hoiberg friend Dickson Jensen...

AMES, Iowa - So what if seemingly everyone with a reporter’s notebook and Twitter handle says it’s a done deal.
Until the official word comes that Fred Hoiberg has become the Chicago Bulls coach, Iowa State alum and Hoiberg friend Dickson Jensen says: “There’s always hope. I would love to see Fred stay.”
Everyone in Ames would.
“He’s an icon around here,” said Tracy Drury, general manager of Hickory Park, a restaurant that has served Cyclones fans since 1970.
To begin to understand Hoiberg’s popularity, consider that he was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball and led Ames High School to the 1991 state title by averaging 38.1 points in six tournament games. (As a quarterback, he also was named the state’s top football player by Gatorade.)
He and wife Carol both attended Iowa State, where teammates dubbed him “The Mayor” during a career in which he played in three NCAA tournaments, scored 1,993 points (third in school history), hit 34 consecutive free throws and earned a finance degree as a first-team Academic All-American.
“He grew up here, was a ballboy at Iowa State, played for (coach) Johnny Orr,” said Marty Tirrell, who co-hosts an afternoon drive CBS Sports Radio show that originates from Des Moines. “I think part of the Cyclone fan base is in denial thinking: There’s no way he is going to leave.”
He’d be leaving a lot. Hoiberg has built a remarkable program since taking over in April 2010, guiding the school to its first stretch of four straight NCAA tournament berths. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman put Iowa State at No. 4 in his 2015 preseason rankings, higher than defending champion Duke and runner-up Kentucky.
If that were not enough, he’s young (42), handsome (think Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men”) and a father of four who has remained approachable.
“He’s a down-to-earth guy,” said Jensen, a 25-year season-ticket holder at Hilton Coliseum. “There’s not a shred of cockiness or arrogance. He can go out with the elite and then hang out with a regular Iowa farm family and feel comfortable. He is genuine.”
Hoiberg’s departure would not have the same feel as when coach Tim Floyd left Ames for the Bulls in 1998.
“He told the fan base: ‘I will be your coach,’ “ Tirrell said. “It was good riddance.”
Hoiberg never has hid his affection for the NBA, cultivated during a 10-year career during which he played for Larry Brown, Larry Bird, Flip Saunders, Kevin McHale and, in Chicago, Floyd, Bill Berry (two games) and Bill Cartwright.
Hoiberg, then with the Minnesota Timberwolves, led the NBA by hitting 48.3 percent from 3-point land in 2005, but he retired after the season because of a heart ailment, necessitating surgery to repair an aneurysm in his aortic root. (He underwent a second planned surgery, in April, to replace his aortic valve.)
He then spent four seasons in the Timberwolves’ front office before adding to his legend in Ames and signing a 10-year, $20 million extension in 2013 that Cyclones fans hoped would keep him there.
He has been a regular at Hickory Park, where Drury often sees him doing more talking than eating while dining with recruits.
“We love him,” she said. “He’s always the same - calm, kind, cool and collected. Everybody’s heartbroken (about his expected departure) but you can’t blame somebody for making a different choice in their life. We’re all going to miss him, but this should be awesome for him and his family.”
The Bulls dismissed Tom Thibodeau on Thursday, and within minutes Tirrell predicted what it meant, telling his listeners that Hoiberg was bound for Chicago.
Tirrell actually went into the season thinking it would be Hoiberg’s last. Why? Because top assistant T.J. Otzelberger had left the University of Washington after just two seasons to return to Iowa State, indicating that Hoiberg had developed an exit strategy.
“He’s a winner,” Tirrell said of Hoiberg. “Look at his life and he has done everything right. I just hope he does not turn out like John Calipari in New Jersey (72-112 record). Fred is a great college coach, but the last season took a huge toll (in part because of player arrests), and the NBA is a grind.”

What To Read Next
Thoreson’s third-period goal is the difference as Posch is tough in net for Minnesota.
Three-day Ski de She camp and clinic in Cable will include Olympic champion Kikkan Randall.
The Olympic curling gold medalist is a new co-owner of the club as it enters its sixth season in the National Premier Soccer League.
Kevin Marx Noren's third-period goal decided it.