(CBS) Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg reaffirmed his intention Wednesday evening to remain in Chicago after an earlier report surfaced that he was a candidate for Ohio State’s coaching vacancy.
“Any time your name is associated with a great job, it’s an honor,” Hoiberg told the Tribune. “But I’m coach of the Bulls and have no intention of leaving.”
The Buckeyes job opened when Thad Matta and the university parted ways earlier in the week after 13 seasons as he deals with health issues and the program has struggled recently. Hoiberg previously coached at the college level for five seasons, leading Iowa State from 2010-’15.
Hoiberg had an old tie to a central figure at Ohio State. Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith was held the same position at Iowa State from 1993-2000, and Hoiberg starred for the Cyclones from 1991-’95.
Ohio State had made no contact with Hoiberg nor asked the Bulls for permission to speak with him, according to the Tribune.
The Bulls hired Hoiberg in June 2015 shortly after firing Tom Thibodeau, and two rocky seasons have followed. Handed a roster ill-suited for his preferred style, Hoiberg is 83-81 in his Bulls tenure with one playoff appearance, that coming this past season after missing the postseason in his rookie campaign. The Bulls fell to the top-seeded Celtics in six games in the first round.
More concerning, he’s struggled for stretches to take hold of the locker room. Bulls star Jimmy Butler criticized Hoiberg just several months into his rookie coaching season, and multiple players were mystified with Hoiberg’s rotations this past year. Hoiberg also alienated proud veterans Joakim Noah and Rajon Rondo in the past two seasons.
Hoiberg has three years and about $15 million left on the original five-year deal he signed that was reported to be worth $25 million. Bulls management confirmed after the season that it would be retaining Hoiberg for his third season, but it also offered up some sharp criticism.
“Fred’s challenge this offseason is to find ways to be a better leader,” executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said on May 3 in a season-ending press conference. “I think he showed progress in that area. The team did rally around him at times. But again, that’s part of the process.
“I mentioned to you last year that I view young coaches in this league as like young players. They have to develop and grow, too. I’m not going to get into the specifics about things we’ve seen. We have a lot of discussions throughout the year about issues we have, things with him, but that’s for us internally to have and to talk about. I do believe that.”
Hoiberg has previously made no indications that he desires to return to the college ranks, pointing out on several occasions that he didn’t much care for the craziness of recruiting.