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We Aren’t Who We Thought We Were March 25, 2012

I’m so incredibly depressed.  And we don’t even know who the new Illini basketball head coach will be.  I’m not depressed because the hire is underwhelming – we haven’t hired anyone yet.  I’m depressed because of who the hire won’t be.

“I am very grateful for the support and belief in the coaching staff and basketball program that comes from the very top of our university’s leadership — President Rao, Athletic Director Norwood Teague and the VCU Board of Visitors – as well as our phenomenal fans,” Smart said. “There are great things to accomplish at VCU and I’m looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university.”


“I am happy and extremely grateful to be the head coach at Butler University, and I am already looking forward to next season and the start of our postseason workouts in April.”

Stop it.

Shaka. Stevens. Grant. Hamilton. Romar….all said no to Illinois. Groce would be sixth choice, at least. Tough sell for new AD to fan base.

Unreal. Wake me up. This is a nightmare.

Whoever our coach is – and other signs this evening point to John Groce of Ohio University – he is the sixth choice.  I have no words.

But I have words.  We’re not who we thought we were.  We can produce statistics that place us somewhere in the 12-15 range in college basketball history.  5 Final Fours.  1st all time in Big Ten wins.  9th in collective AP poll appearances.  Give me a half hour and I will fill it with a powerpoint presentation on the potential of Illinois Basketball to be a top-10 program.  I’ll go through the number of NBA players born within a 3 hour radius of campus (with maps!).  I’ll show pictures of the Illini fans showing up for a Final Four shootaround.  I’ll tell you all you need to know about the Next Great College Basketball Powerhouse.

And now it will be coached by our sixth choice.  SIXTH.  This isn’t happening.

I know I’ll hate this post in a few months.  Someone will be the basketball coach (we’re going to get a coach, right?), and I’ll hate that I already labeled them as “sixth choice”.  Wait – I didn’t label them that.  David Haugh did.  And, soon, the national media.  So I’m in the clear.  Good.

SIXTH CHOICE.  Coaches reportedly turning down EIGHT FIGURE RAISES. (Here – I’ll type that out for you: $XX,XXX,XXX). I can’t believe this is happening.

OK, I have to force myself to look for positives.  These thoughts in my head are just too dark.  OK… well… see… Auburn! Auburn went through this!  When Auburn hired Gene Chizik as their football coach, they missed on a few high profile targets, had to endure Alabama fans laughing for days, and eventually settled on Iowa State’s coach, who was 5-19 in his two seasons at Iowa State.  As I recall, there were petitions trying to get senators involved to block the hire.  And then they won a national championship.

So there it is!  Transitive property!  All tire fire coaching searches result in national championships!  All hail Reggie Theus and the 2017 University of Illinois National Champions!

I’m on a roll.  Let’s see… Brady Hoke!  Michigan pursued Les Miles, and he said no.  They pursued Jim Harbaugh, but he said no.  So they settled on a coach from Ball State/SDSU, and their fans melted down.  And then they went to a BCS bowl his first year.  And Frank Haith! Hated, and then Missouri finished the season ranked #3.

YES! It’s true!  All tire fires have a happy ending! What? There are dozens and dozens of examples where teams whiffed on their first few choices and it set the program back for years?  Hires like Matt Doherty at North Carolina, John Pelphrey at Arkansas, and Billy Gillispie at Kentucky became absolute train wrecks?  I’m not tryin’ to hear that, see?  Tire fires for the win!

I need to settle down.  This isn’t over – we’ve simply been officially turned down by the two young guns from last year’s Final Four.  There are plenty of coaches out there, and I need to wait and see what transpires before I walk any close to the edge.  It’s just that we’re probably on our sixth choice. There’s no way around that.  The laughter of fans from every bordering state (Indiana, Missouri, Iowa) is palpable tonight.  Mighty Casey has struck out (and is in an 0-2 hole in his second at-bat).

I have a friend who sent me a text that said “If we hire a MAC coach who is 34-30 in his conference, I’m done watching Illini basketball.”  I’m not there yet.  Who am I kidding – I’ll never get there.  It’s not possible to not watch Illini basketball.  It’s been my thing since I was 10 years old.  I’ll never not do it.

But the events of today – the fact that we were pantsed in the center of the cafeteria for the second time in a week – do not speak well to the possibility of those games going in our favor.  We have negative momentum right now, and the weight of this disaster will hang over the new coach, whoever he is, for a long time.  You can’t escape “sixth choice”.  Not with Chicago media already reveling in the ridiculousness.

We simply aren’t who we thought we were.  We had two big fish on the line, and we let ‘em off the hook.

Steve March 25th, 2012

I too am scared to death. This is beyond my wildest nightmare.
Groce may be wonderful. Heck, that is, if we get him. At this moment, I have no faith in anything.
But I’m hard pressed to believe that he is going to be able to win over the recruits or the fans quickly. I did not want a long, slow recovery. I wanted to get the hot coach, get the recruits back quickly and be resurgent in 1 . . max 2 . . . years.
I do not feel good about the next few years now.
This has been a brutal month.

Joe John March 25th, 2012

Robert, its time to surrender. Illinois sucks. The basketball program, the football program, and women’s basketball program…all suck. Guenther allowed these programs to rot on the vine to the point that the stench is still there…and its no longer an attractive job. Admit it. Stop getting your hopes up to only be disappointed. The only hope Illini fans have in Groce is that he’s fine with paying players. Maybe he is? But its time to put down the pom poms and pick up a pitchfork. If as many insiders read this blog as purported….time to unleash the fury.

illinibacker March 25th, 2012

Wow – all that speculation that Joe John was Robert’s fabricated alter ego and it turns out that Robert = Joe John. This thing has come full circle.

Hoppy March 26th, 2012

I will agree with Joe John that RG sat on Illinois athletics for far too long.
But we still have the capability to be the school we know we can be. The major difference now is we weed out the guys who would only half ass it. Whoever we get is gonna have to have some drive and motivation because they know fixin this school/team is gonna take more than the standard workload.
So basically, what I see is a bunch coaches not willing to cowboy up and take this thing on, so MT will keep going down the line till he finds that guy.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

I’m gonna put a positive spin on this whole thing. A year ago we had Ron Guenther, Ron Zook and Bruce Weber. Now, all three are gone. We will still lose games, but it won’t be in our recent “pull your hair out” fashion where the coaching decisions drive you insane (well, hopefully).
I am a bit surprised how much Weber’s last few years (and last 2 months of this season) did to our overall reputation though. And we don’t know that Grant, Hamilton and Romar said no to an actual offer from us. We asked them before we asked Stevens? Cuz, he JUST turned us down. There are so many rumors out there. And major media reports on each one like they’re facts.
Reggie Theus, come on down. And wear your old Bulls jersey to every Chicago kid you visit.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

I also think the “scene” in college basketball has changed. After George Mason, VCU and Butler did so much in recent tournaments and then way the media “breathlessly” reported on how great it was that these little schools did so well – it was all you could read about – that they became the “sexy” jobs.
Think about it. If VCU and Butler are willing to pony up $1mil a year for a guy to coach at a job where the expectation the same as schools like Illinois in the big conferences and then the media treats you like such a darling, why not take that job. In “the old days” those little schools never paid close to what the big ones did. Now that they do, they’ve almost become the better jobs. There’s less pressure demanded on those coaches. It’s almost total upside. Now, if Shaka and Stevens lay eggs in the next 5 years on don’t even make the tournament, VCU and Butler may wonder why they’re paying north of $1 mill per year.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

I meant to say “willing to pony up $1 mil a year for a guy to coach at a job where the expectation IS NOT the same as schools like Illinois….”

Jeremiah March 26th, 2012

No doubt the coaching search hasn’t gone as planned. But I think your post may have convinced me that it doesn’t really say anything about our program at all. You mention UNC and Kentucky basketball, as well as Auburn and Michigan football, as examples of recent programs who apparently had to settle for a coach who wasn’t the top choice. All those programs (with the possible exception of Auburn football) have a status in their sport beyond Illinois basketball’s, and yet they experienced the exact same problems we are having now. So maybe Smart and Stevens saying no reflects on our program, or maybe it’s just bad luck.
Regardless, this is a good example of why I always cringe a bit when fans inevitably clamor for firing the coach at the first sign of trouble. Every fan thinks they will get a savior coach, but when making a firing, you have to be prepared for who the replacement will be as well. Maybe you’ll get John Calipari or Roy Williams, but maybe you’ll get Billy Gillispie or Matt Doherty instead, even if you’re at the Kentucky/UNC level. This is NOT to say that it wasn’t time for a change, but just a general point.

yuazda March 26th, 2012


If it is Groce, I think Hoke is an apt comparison. The only real difference is Groce never spent time at Illinois. Hoke on paper looked horrible, a 27-20 MAC record (and a terrible loss in the 08 championship game as double digit favorites) and losing record in the Mountain West, and a losing overall record. There was nothing to inspire the Michigan masses other than loosely calling him a “Michigan Man” because he coached under Carr. Groce has similar makeup and personality to Hoke and is practically the complete opposite of Weber in every way personality-wise.

Just keep in mind that nobody will remember how poorly this coaching search was perceived by our peers if Groce turns out to be a great hire. I think it’s important that we remember that.

yuazda March 26th, 2012

Also, unless you’re getting a proven commodity like UNC landing Roy Williams, college coaching hires are like pro draft picks. We can hand-wring all we want, but there’s no way of knowing you’re going to end up with a Hasheem Thabeet (top-flight bust) or a Michael Redd (under the radar star)

rochillini March 26th, 2012

Rehire Weber? His pre-Illinois resume seems better that current choices?

illiniguy March 26th, 2012

When I heard it was Groce, I have to say it made me nauseous. I’m still a little nauseous How do you downshift from Shaka and Stevens all the way down to Groce? His resume is about that of Weber when we hired him but at the time Guenther was obsessed with getting a guy who would stay (i.e. not be in demand) and pinching pennies (Matta only cost $275K more!). With all that money out there its not even possible that Groce was the best choice. Heath, Martin, Capel, Amaker and Theus were all out there and I’m not buying that all those guys on your list were a firm no. Even Jay Wright was in play. I’m not one for hiring based on race but I have to say it would at least have been nice to get the “no minority coaches” bugaboo off our shoulder if we were going to reach for someone.

Right now the best thing I can say for Thomas is that at least he’ll likely have a quick trigger when he has to fire these flops.

cowchip March 26th, 2012

I don’t think it was Weber and Guenther that lowered our status. Heck, Guenther hired Krueger in some pretty lean years.

Everyone says that coaching is a ‘fraternity.’ If so, those guys talk. The talk re: Mike Thomas, even as he throws 2.5 million around, must be pretty negative.

EricCLoy March 26th, 2012

I don’t know Groce from Adam, truthfully, and if he is hired he might be perfectly fine. However, these hirings smack of interim-type deals where infrastructure is dealt with while the caretakers handle the on-field duties….like the Cubs right now.
Work on the Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium, and the new media deal. Once all that is shiny and new re-assess the programs. If the coaches did well, we all look like geniuses. If they didn’t, we have a new showcase to sell the next prospective coaches on.

As far as recruiting Chicago, the inability of the University of Illinois to perfect human cloning has been a big setback. Much easier to re-grow your own than to go out hunting.

wimble March 26th, 2012

Does it seem the SS and BS turn-downs are more public than other universities getting turned down? I feel like I watch sports relatively closely, and the only big media turn-down I can recall is Les Miles turning down Michigan for football. I’m struggling to remember a headline about a basketball spot turn-down (?)

Are Shaka and Stevens going deeper into negotiations than is common for a negative outcome? If a job is just “not the place for you” (Stevens), do you get into a process of multi-day negotations? I feel like we’re getting played here, and can’t wait for some more details to come out once this process is over. Are these guys using the process to raise their “hero-brand” at their respective universities.

cowchip, I’m also wondering about what you mention above re: Thomas. Does he have a bad rep? Did Izzo’s comments do more damage than we thought?

Frustrated… Illinois basketball is better than this.

EricCLoy March 26th, 2012

Let’s start a new Twit-rumor. Groce to Kansas State!!

hup_oranje March 26th, 2012

Robert, maybe you are the worst blogger. You went from not writing about tweets to believing five coaches have been offered the job based on one sportswriter’s guess. I’m sorry, but Hamilton and Romar don’t fit the type of coach Thomas has said he is looking for, and I don’t see where Stevens would have been the sixth choice.
I would like to know what Parker Executive Search has been paid to do. Why are these offers being turned down publicly? Seriously, Thomas could have read any number of message boards to come up with a list of potential hires if this is how it’s going to go down.

1IlliniFan March 26th, 2012

To me it is starting to look like the hire that the UofI made was MT, maybe we were so glad that we got rid of RG that we were willing to embrace anyone. The way he has handled the hires as well as the lack of support of Weber during the middle of the season and his firing. This has probably given future quality coaches pause just in itself. While I was certainly for releasing Weber, did think that it could of been handled better, maybe after the NIT (if he was still here I think we had a shot at an invitation, would have been good for the kids regardless of coaching which at that point they already had a year of it). Not everyone is going to agree on whatever the hire is going to be, granted some certainly would have been more popular. But MT took the chance that this was a coveted job and really was more public about it than he should have, it seems to have backfired and once again we look like some sort of backward hicks that even with throwing around money cannot get a good hire. Maybe the problem is not the school but MT, maybe not. Personally I think that the Beckman hire was a bad hire, could be wrong, certainly been wrong on things in life before, hope I am, but do not think so, does not look good so far with the commits they seem to have. But as with anything time will tell, same with the BB coach. Personally I am not for Groce either which means he will probably get hired.

For the record I think they should have hired Monken and should hire Collins, they didn’t and won’t but they should have. I know, I know these are unpopular choices but it is still my opinion.

Bigger question is, all of us being Illini, fans and supporters, these are our teams, where is the break off going to be if needed so we do not slide any farther into the toilet with our programs?

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

What is SO MUCH better about Shaka Smart than John Groce? Seriously. I know what’s worse – the fact that we offered Shaka a job and he said ‘no’. Yes, that stings and makes us want him more. But it’s not totally justified. To me, what Stevens has done is way more notable. Back-to-back championships with Butler and a long 3 that didn’t fall which would have won the title. But he was never gonna come here anyway.
Shaka won 4 games last year in the tourney – then Butler dismissed VCU. OK, this year, Groce won 3 games. And took the 4th game to OT. This year, VCU didn’t win their conference in the regular season and had to win their tourned to get in, which they did. Then they won 1 game. And for that, Shaka is the “end all be all”? Two years ago, Groce did about the same thing, by getting in and upsetting much higher-seeded G-town. So over the last 3 years, they’ve had about the same success. But Groce has had more success more recently. But he doesn’t have all of the intangible appeal (cool name, exciting energy level in practice when Jim Nantz is watching, etc.). And those intangibles really don’t mean much.

illiniphil March 26th, 2012

The whole university is in a toxic state right now. The BB program is at low tide. The BoT added the racial overtones. This is not the job it should be or could be at this time. This is the perfect storm working against this hire.

If Groce wants this job, I’ll embrace him with open arms. I’d have loved to land a big splash hire, but results on the court are what I’m going to judge any hire by. The first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem. RG is gone. BW is gone. It may take longer than I had hoped, but let the recovery begin.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

Sorry, I know Groce had only 2 tourney wins this year and almost a 3rd one. Lost track of rounds for a second there. Still more than Shaka did this year.

Joe John March 26th, 2012

John Groce – 85-56
Shaka Smart – 84-27

Groce is Bruce Weber.
Smart is Bill Self

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 26th, 2012

Ha – that’s awesome. He’s coached a little over 100 games (in the Colonial Athletic Association, no less – BTW is Navy still in that conference?) and he’s Bill Self??!! Look, I’m not saying Groce is awesome or even all that good, but I’m saying Shaka is a little unproven. And the love affair with him was a bit overdone.
But hey, if he’s Bill Self, then we should have offered him Bill Self money. Oh wait, we did.

Joe John March 26th, 2012


Spiece Indy Heat is an AAU program Travis Steele was involved with.
Indiana Elite is an AAU program Travis Steele was involved with.

There is no such thing as “Spiece Indiana Elite”…they are two separate programs which are illustrated in Travis Steele’s biography. I’d get to know Travis Steele..he’s Jerrance replacement.

Joe John March 26th, 2012

Furthermore, how do you think Steele got Eric Gordon to switch from Speice Indy Heat (Reebok) to Indiana Elite (Adidas) after the Conley, Oden, Cook, McRoberts class graduated? He’s had a relationship with those kids forever, and he helped steer them to his brother…until he himself got paid (and got a job) and steered Gordon to Indiana. Groce main recruiting grounds are going to be Indiana, it will be a challenge to bring players from that state to Illinois when its rarely happened in the past…plus with IU being back to a power.

yuazda March 26th, 2012

For Pete’s sake, stop comparing Shaka and Groce’s W-L records. The point might be valid if they coached in the same conference — but they don’t. VCU is in the top-heavy CAA and Ohio is in the MAC where teams beat up on each other all season, most teams are separated by 1-2 games and teams often win the regular season title with 4-5 losses (seriously, look it up).

Citing MAC conference finishes is irresponsible too. The MAC uses divisions for basketball — the MAC East is far superior to the MAC West almost every season, but West teams have been given advantages such as the #2 seed for the West champ even if they finish five games below an East squad that was actually the 2nd best team (they ended this for this year — Ohio would have actually finished 4th in a regular year).

There are plenty of reasons to doubt Groce. But adding up their W-L records from Wikipedia and trying to compare apples to oranges is not helping anyone.

illiniranger March 27th, 2012

just got back from AFG today and, wow, our message boards are officially a dumpster fire. looks like Groce is the guy.

despite all the caterwauling about how terrible a hire this is, can anybody actually tell me, you know, what kind of a coach he is?

will we run the ball up court? will we press? will we run a zone defense? does he trust his players or is he a “helicopter” coach?

lastly, how do you pronounce his name? is it GRO-chee?

AHSIllini32 March 27th, 2012

I haven’t read every word of every comment but I’ll say this:
MT probably put out feelers to a bunch of people including Groce, Grant, maybe Romar and just because a few said “no interest” and Groce said “interest” it doesn’t drop him behind those other guys.
There’s also a reason the prepbullseye guys (who have a VERY good reputation) think that Groce would be extremely successful at Illinois.
The guy recruited like crazy at OSU (yes he was the reason Conley and those guys went to OSU; google search an article about it and you’ll get direct quotes from Conley and his family). Dan Dakich and the guys from prepbullseye have also heaped nothing but recruiting praise at the feet of Groce. AND he got a stud kid out of Chicago that a lot of big schools wanted and convinced him to come to Ohio.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 27th, 2012

To me, clearly the hand-wringing over our hiring “luck” so far in this has to be over what choices 3 through 5 apparently did to us – of which we have zero details. Because Smart and Stevens turned down all kinds of suitors last year and it didn’t seem to be this big of a deal (and the two that went after Smart both have National Championship rings on their fingers). And if we’re “not all that” as Joe John would have us believe, then that’s no surprise that they both gave us a ‘no’. So we’re supposedly a laughingstock because we’re onto #6 – even though #3 through #5 we’re looked at basically for their “diversity” because our Board of Trustees is unhappy about our history of our coaches’ skin color.
All of the “sky is falling” crap seems a bit overdone. This is addition by subtraction. Weber had to go. He took a team to the verge of a national title, basically got ZERO recruiting traction out of that national spotlight and our team was getting worse and worse every year – we didn’t even make the NIT this year! Look, we were losing to our in-state little sister schools EVERY year – except for this year (thank goodness Maniscalco helped us eek out a win over ISU – geez, that’s a pathetic sentence right there). And in his tenure at Illinois, he has not cultivated one good assistant who took a sweet gig at another school. Another sign of a good coach is that they have successful “spin-offs”. Groce may not be great, but we could not stick with Weber.
“Only a fool tries the same thing over and over and expects different results”.

illinitrueblue March 27th, 2012

I dunno, Robert. I think you may have gone a bit overboard. Just because some sports writer from the Trib (it’s the Trib! for heaven’s sakes) says we “offered” the job to 5 guys doesn’t make it so. No doubt we offered Shaka and put feelers to Stephens, but all these other guys? How in the world did Thomas even have time to do that?

I know that searches go out to a number of people at the same time, but I seriously doubt that we offered all 5 and more important, how in the world would Haugh know? He and Shannon Ryan are about as clueless as possible. Like most newspaper writers these days, they never let the facts get in the way of a good story. In an dying industry, it sells.

rinnersan March 27th, 2012

From a MAC basketball blogger:

We just want to hear Illinois admit that they have a MACohol problem and they’re going to seek help at the Geno Ford Clinic

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 27th, 2012

And like I care what someone who went to Northwestern for grad school (Haugh) says about our program anyway. Yeah, label our search as a ‘debacle’. Real professional, pal. Totally agree with ‘trueblue’ and ‘AHS’. 3 through 5 did not turn down offers. I’d like to see what they would have said to $20M over 8 years. And yes, how would MT have time to be making so many simultaneous offers?

ATOillini March 27th, 2012

Great comments in your post just above, especially regarding assistants. This whole situation just became one that was easy for everyone to pile on. I read these scathing remarks about MT and I’m just amazed. Maintaining the status quo was NOT a reasonable option, and all he did was immediately go after the best man he could (a guy that turned down good offers last year as well). One would think our basketball coaching situation rivals (maybe surpasses) the scandal at Penn State a few months ago. People need to give whoever the new coach is support…period.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 27th, 2012

It’s so funny. It’s announced that there will be a press conf. Tribune runs an article about Groce being named coach. Then, there won’t be a press conf. Now all is quiet. I feel like the character on ‘Swingers’ who’s about to get a gig being Goofy and is all down on the job saying how dumb it is cuz he wants to be an actor. His buddies are like “well, at least you’re working for Disney”. Then he doesn’t get the job after all and he’s all upset. “I would kill for that job”.
That’s how I feel about Groce now. Yeah, I know. Fire away with your insults. Rumor has it some Trustee is balking at the hire. Geez, I hope that’s untrue. Seems we definitely have tried to offer the job to at least one (possibly 4) “diverse” candidates. If they somehow screw this one up………

Lou-a-villini March 27th, 2012

Did I hear correctly that Frank Martin is going to South Carolina? Would that classify as a WTF moment for Illini Nation?

Joe John March 27th, 2012

Mike Thomas, quite simply, should resign or be fired. He made very easy decisions to fire incompetent coaches. I dont give him credit for that. He needed to turn the programs around by hiring program changing coaches, and he’s failed. Anyone that still defends this clown reminds me of Rams fans that defended Steve Spagnoulo to the bitter end. Just because you might be better than Scott Linehan (Guenther) doesnt make you good enough for the job. The dark ages of Illini basketball will continue for another 3 or 4 years.

EricCLoy March 27th, 2012

Here’s the problem. It IS a debacle. Whatever the reason, however it has set up, and however the hires work out, this entire hiring process has been handled horribly.

illinifanbobj March 27th, 2012

Joe john calm down bro.
Mike thomas took the job less than a year ago. None of his hires had a chance to coach a single game and you’re already saying he should be fired?

IlliniAl March 27th, 2012

Mike DeCourcey, Sporting News College Basketball Guru, says that Groce is the perfect fit and should have been the number one choice to begin with. States Illini nation should be excited over his hiring.

GrogsBBQPepperoni March 27th, 2012

I know, it’s so funny, bobj. Neither the football coach nor basketball coach has a single loss but to JJ, they’re complete failures. So, since they’re going to be failures, fire Mike Thomas too. We’ve just lost the president (who was basically fired), anybody else we should torch? Geez, how ’bout an ounce of stability. Or let’s just fire the entire Board. And all of the professors. Start from scratch!

PittsburghNellie March 27th, 2012

I don’t agree that this was a “we are who were thought we were” situation. i think Illinois is just a victim of circumstance. Stevens and Shaka were the top 2 choices, but Shaka will only leave for Floirda and Stevens also probably has his short list of schools he’d leave for. After those two, it didn’t matter that much to me, after those two, it was all Mike Thomas, and after seeing his past two coaching hires at Cincinnati perform, i’m not worried.

Hoppy March 27th, 2012

I completely disagree with Joe John. I’m still behind MT. Why? Because I am seeing more and more just how broken Illinois athletics are right now. Not just on the coaching level, but on the administration/leadership level.
Board of Trustees members trying to strong arm our AD and publicly criticizing him over the race of a hire, our president and all his shenanigans, the former AD and his love for screwing us over. All of this leads me to believe MT walked into a S*&T storm and is trying to navigate his way out. Maybe he knew this going in…I don’t know. But his work has been cut out for him and I think, given the circumstances, he is doing a fine job.
And why is he doing a fine job? Even after Sumlin spurned us he found Beckman. Who, if you ask me, is winning over the fan base save for Joe John et al. Hopefully, he will be able to get Groce and we can get under way for next years basketball season. I like both these hires because they are people with potential and MT signed off on them. I trust his judgement because, like others have said, his other hires have been doing well. He seems to be able to judge coaching talent.
Now if you dislike him because of how the hirings have been progressing, what exactly did you want him to do? What have we heard from MT specifically? I haven’t been seeing quotes from him at all. He has been quiet and has simply been turned down. Everything we have seen has been either wrong/speculation/rumors/BoT crap/released by the targeted coach or school. How in the world is any of that MT’s fault? Or cause for a firing? I just don’t see that.
Also, it seems like people are really being hard on Illinois. Much more so than other teams needing a new coach and being denied by a first choice. Maybe everyone just wants to make sure Illinois looks like an awful job? Probably because it could be so much more, and would cause them to compete harder for recruits. Who knows? If Illinois looks like a crap place to go it is pretty much equivalent to it being an unsuccessful program under Weber. Food for thought I guess.
Overall, MT simply trying to do things the right way for once, and is ruffling a lot of feathers because of the botched system he is doing it in. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if MT decided to leave because this crap around him. I hope he doesn’t because I like how he does business, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
Sorry for the novel.