Doc Sadler doesn’t view his new job as a second chance to become a Division I head coach.
Instead, he relished a first opportunity to lead a program like Southern Mississippi.
The 53-year-old Sadler was introduced Thursday on campus in front of about 200 people that included fans, current players and former star Clarence Weatherspoon. The former Nebraska coach inherits a program that has won 56 games over the past two seasons and reached the NCAA tournament in 2012.
Sadler said the Golden Eagles’ consistent success made the job very attractive.
"It’s a program now," Sadler said. "And whoever is standing here is a part of it. The chance to play in the NCAA tournament, win games in the NCAA tournament, that’s what is going to get me up every day and keep our players excited every day."
Southern Miss just missed the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, winning 27 games two years ago and 29 games last season. Both seasons ended in the NIT quarterfinals.
"I know you guys had a good team last year, but we’re going to the NCAA tournament dude," Sadler said with a grin. "I don’t care anything about winning a lot of games. I care about one thing — playing in the NCAA tournament."
Sadler coached Nebraska for six seasons from 2006-12, leading the Cornhuskers to three appearances in the NIT before being fired in 2012. He was an assistant at Iowa State last season, helping the Cyclones win 28 games and make the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
He also coached UTEP for two seasons, leading the Miners to the NCAA tournament in 2005.
Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis said Sadler "is a fabulous person and a fabulous coach." He replaces Donnie Tyndall, who left after two seasons for Tennessee.
McGillis didn’t release details of Sadler’s contract, but said he expected it to be finalized by next week.
Sadler takes over a Southern Miss program that plays in Conference USA and is in the midst of arguably the best three-year run in school history.
The Golden Eagles made the NCAA tournament in 2012 under then-coach Larry Eustachy, who left for Colorado State after that season. Eustachy was replaced by Tyndall, who won 56 games in two seasons but had to settle for trips to the NIT.
Now Sadler wants to get them back to the Big Dance.
Southern Miss should have a nucleus of talented returners like guards Aaron Brown and Matt Bingaya, who were an important part of last year’s team. Sadler had a meeting with the team’s players on Thursday afternoon.
"I couldn’t be happier for Doc, but we will miss him greatly here at Iowa State. Much of our success this past year was because of Doc’s influence on our team," Hoiberg said in a statement released by Southern Miss. "Southern Miss is getting an excellent basketball coach and an even better person who will do special things for the program."
Sadler has a 149-107 record as a Division I head coach over eight seasons at UTEP and Nebraska.
He was also a candidate for the Southern Miss job in 2012 when Tyndall was hired. Sadler comes to the Golden Eagles with a defensive reputation, but said he’s learned much about offense after working with Hoiberg for a season.
The Cyclones were fifth in the nation in scoring last season.
"I was always raised to believe that defense wins championships, but I don’t believe that anymore," Sadler said. "I think offense does. I really do. I think there are a lot of good defensive teams, but if you’re going to win a championship you’ve got to be a good offensive team."