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Immekus Update March 6, 2013

Here I go and think I’m all clever for getting a scoop…

Nick Immekus was not “dismissed for a violation of team rules” as I earlier reported.  He quit the team.  How could I have that wrong?  Let me explain.

A twitterer sent me something this morning saying that starting kicker Nick Immekus was no longer listed on the official roster online.  I contacted the University for official word and received the following: Immekus had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.  So I ran the story.

After the story was published, I received an email from Scott Immekus, Nick’s father, telling me a different version of the events: Nick quit the team and was not dismissed.  With his permission, here is what Mr. Immekus told me:

Nick and his position coach developed an untenable relationship. After a verbal altercation in the position coach’s office on February 4th, Nick walked into the locker room and cleaned out his locker. If that is considered a rules violation than so be it.

Nick is eligible to transfer to any school outside the Big Ten Conference. He is seeking opportunities now.

Mr. Immekus also copied me on another email he sent to the school. I forwarded this info on to the school and received a phone call: the initial information I received was incorrect. Nick Immekus quit the team and was not dismissed.

So there you go.  I will now go back to Bruce Weber jokes and not try to scoop again for at least nine days.

Joe John March 6th, 2013

If he was a walk-on, I can understand quitting.
Walkons dont get many benefits, but still have to put in the same amount of work as everyone else.

Hoppy March 6th, 2013

I hate to say it man, but you fell victim to the “First to break a story bug.” Luckily, this was a small event that went unnoticed when it happened. Imagine all the hate if we were in the middle of a coaching search and you started reporting Sumlin to Illinois like some were doing last year.
It seems that in todays world, one source is never ever enough. (Even if that source was our school unfortunately)

Robert March 6th, 2013

If it happened again, I would go about it the exact same way. I heard something, I contacted the school to get a statement, and I published that statement. No further sources are needed.

Groundhogday March 6th, 2013

Yep, I don’t know how a journalist can be blamed for publishing an official statement from the university.

Illinigrad March 7th, 2013

Sounds like a really charming coaching staff. Observations from afar:

2-10 record last season truly underachieving big time
Players don’t buy in to new staff
Several assistant coaches can’t wait to drive out of the city limits
Now this –

I know the answer: Tim Beckman will lead us to a Big 10 Championship. I will probably be in the grave before it happens. Where is my season ticket renewal application I just got?

illiniaces97 March 7th, 2013

Hate to make my first post the negative variety but……What’s even more disturbing than our scholarship kicker quitting is our OL coach quitting. So Purdue is on a faster upswing than IL?! I don’t think I’ll be renewing my season tix this year. What a debacle.

wschrive March 7th, 2013

Immekus should have waited it out. This is Illinois. The position coach will probably be gone long before he completes his transfer paperwork.

NJJ87 March 7th, 2013

Not just the position coach…this entire staff will be gone before Nick is eligible to compete in another game. I think Jim Bridge was sharp enough to recognize that as soon as he walked in the door so he did the smart thing and found an opportunity with better security. While not likely at this point, it wouldn’t come as a total surprise if he’s not the last one to leave before next fall.

ATOillini March 7th, 2013

It sure seems like The Onion has enough ammo for a great piece on Illini football. Something along the lines of “the entire coaching staff and 63 players have left…..”

gusher March 7th, 2013

Should we be troubled by the fact that the school lied to Robert in the first place?

SouthernIllini March 7th, 2013

Ugh. what a mess…. They might be better off just firing Beckman, the entire coaching staff, and all the scholarship players right now and just starting from scratch.

But seriously, Beckman has passed the point of no return. Even if he is a decent coach, his credibility has been destroyed.

Hoppy March 7th, 2013

Not faulting you Robert. Just stating that nowadays it never seems the first source is accurate. It’s the fault of the school that they didn’t give you the right info.
Also, why would they be so quick to say he was kicked off the team for violating team rules? Do you think they too learned the truth just yesterday?

NJJ87 March 7th, 2013

Can someone remind me again what a genius MT is? He got publicly punked by Sumlin, and then with no apparent backup plan made a terrible hire in TB. He then proceeded to follow the same playbook for the basketball coaching search, getting publicly rejected by more than one “name” coach. At least he seems to have stumbled onto a good hire there.

MT is going to end up having to take a flyer on an unproven assistant or settle for a retread, because TB has quickly removed what little shine there was left on the football program.

Robert March 7th, 2013

I can.
Football coaches hired by Thomas: JD Brookhart (30-42 in 7 season at Akron), Brian Kelly (had ND in title game), Butch Jones (just got Tennessee job), Tim Beckman.
Basketball coaches hired by Thomas: Keith Dambrot (Akron 24-5 and was ranked last week); Mick Cronin (Cincy in the S16 last year, tourney again this year); John Groce.
Jury is still out on Beckman and Groce, obviously. But that’s a very impressive roster that has earned my wait-and-see.

NJJ87 March 7th, 2013

That’s a very patient jury that is still out on Beckman, because he shows all the signs of someone who is in WAY over his head.

You’re right about Groce, clearly. He convinced a group that had shown they were quitters to dig in when things started going south again. That alone earns him time in my book. But his future will ultimately depend upon his ability to convince 1 or more big time recruits to play for him, and thus far (in an admittedly very, very short time) he has only shown the ability to finish 2nd for that caliber recruit. If he doesn’t land a “pied piper” type in the next 12-18 months things will head south.

All that said, Cincy, and especially Akron, are not the Big Ten, and hiring guys who can succeed at that level and then move on on their way up is not the same as hiring guys who can elevate the Illini into the elite of a power conference. People murdered RG for being too loyal (RT, RZ and BW)…we’ll see if MT knows when to cut bait because he missed badly on Beckman.

uiucfan1 March 7th, 2013

Re:Bruce Weber – if you listen to the Van Pelt show podcast from yesterday (3/6) you can hear Weber take some jabs at the Illini hoops program …

his claim that his 9 year tenure is the best the schools ever had is incorrect – best 9 years in school history were from 1947 to 1956 in which they went 164-44 with a .7884 win percentage….

taking credit for the only outright B1G Championship since 1952 is a joke since we tied for the championship 8-10 times in that span….

I despise that man!

Harry Lime March 7th, 2013

NJJ87 could you please explain your logic on what is bad about going after the best available coaches? Sounds a little like you would advocate asking the ugliest girl to the prom.

NJJ87 March 7th, 2013

Not advocating that, but we did end up with the ugliest girl at the prom (her measurements are 2-10- [-6 coaches]). I’m only suggesting that getting on a loudspeaker and asking several hot girls to go with you only makes you look cool if at least one says yes.

The public-handling / leaks involved in both of the coaching searches were amateurish. Ultimately, who you hire is what’s important, but I guess I’d prefer the “back channel contact, everyone finds out at the presser” style to the public courtship. Maybe that’s just me. And as I said, it appears that in the case of Groce, at least we got someone we don’t need to be embarrassed to be dancing with.

Lou-a-villini March 7th, 2013

Perhaps Kendrick Nunn will be that pied piper.

Joe John March 7th, 2013

What are the benefits to having a lameduck football coach? I think its clear that other asst coaches see the Beckman regime for what it is, and i dont know how they even begin to try to recruit, so this is all evidence as to why it would have been a good decision to just ax him at the end of last year.

With John Groce, he’s led Illinois to what I call a barely acceptable season. 8-10 should never be the bar with a team full of experience though. I dont see any reason to blast him given that the talent is that good, but i dont see any reason to praise him either for simply being better than Northwestern, Penn State, and Nebraska.

With Mike Thomas, he obviously made a great hire in Brian Kelly, and a good hire in Butch Jones. Average hires in Cronin, Groce, Dambrot (none of these guys are special). Bad hire in Brookhart and an abysmal hire in Beckman. That doesnt look like anything great to me, but i have higher standards than the participation trophy crowds.

Joe John March 7th, 2013

NJJ87, good points but I’d prefer the Illini have an AD in place that only fires people if he has who he wants to hire already lined up, signed, sealed and delivered. There’s no reason to buy out Bruce Weber for 3.9 mils and end up with a John Groce. There’s no reason to buy out a Ron Zook for his mils if all you end up with is Beckman. Paying a premium for at best marginal improvement (which was best hoped for – not attained with Beckman and remains to be seen with Groce) is not fiscally responsible. Illinois should be seen as a prestigious job, and if you really want is not attainable, you dont settle for 3rd 4th or 5th best AND pay a premium for it (the buyouts).

gusher March 7th, 2013

Groce appears to be a good hire, but Mick Cronin is not a win for Thomas. Even if you drop the horrendous 2-14 in his first season–he inherited a mess–he’s still just 42-42 in the Big East in that timeframe.
They’re also not a lock to make the Tournament this year. Probably in right now, but it wouldn’t take a lot to knock them out.
I guess another way to look at it is to ask if Mick Cronin will ever get a better job than the one he has now. Isn’t that the sign of a good hire–get someone good enough to upgrade, if they so choose?

gusher March 7th, 2013

JJ–the upside to having a lame duck coach is two-fold. For one, we save money. We’re paying a lot of buyouts right now, and we probably can’t afford to pay another one on top of the new coach’s salary.
The second reason is that you don’t want to have a reputation of having a quick trigger. Illinois isn’t easy for a coach to win at, and the job doesn’t get more attractive if everyone thinks the seat is perpetually hot.
Of course, if attendance completely falls apart this year (it will), that might force Thomas’ hand. At the end of the day, football pays the bills, and the moment it ceases to do that you don’t have the option of being patient.

bkenny March 7th, 2013

In one post you talking about having higher standards, then in the next post you talk about how you wish we had Weber and Zook still here. And LOL at “don’t settle for 3rd/4th/5th.” No Shaka, I’m not leaving here until you sign! I can’t settle for 3rd/4th/5th option! Abracadabra, sign right here!

bkenny March 7th, 2013

Also, “barely acceptable” season for Groce? Took a dead in the water team after last year’s debacle, gets them into the tournament, and a possible .500 record in the toughest conference in basketball, and the toughest B10 since I don’t even know when. We all want the team to win titles, but you need more realistic expectations. What the hell did you expect the team to do in the beginning of the year? Quite frankly I didn’t think we’d make the tournament with this group, I doubt many others did. You somehow think we should have been 14-4 and playing for a protected seed. Quite the jump to make with the same roster, no stud recruits coming in, and a much tougher conference than the year before. Whatever.

ATOillini March 7th, 2013

JJ – regarding the first few sentences of your second comment, of course we’d all “prefer” some great hire to already be signed, sealed and delivered. But seriously, did MT have any real option to keep either Zook or Weber without a total mutiny from the fan base regardless of who he had lined up? I don’t think so.
I can’t disagree that so far EVERYTHING that TB has done seems to be a disaster, but I’m just not comprehending why you trash Groce so much. Just makes no sense to me. Every shortcoming the team has was already there. And yes, our best player from the team last year that finished with a total implosion just happens to be playing 15 minutes per game in the NBA instead of helping us avoid several of the losses we have experienced. What do you seriously expect?

Joe John March 7th, 2013

bkenny – what I’m saying is that yes, I’d rather have Zook/Weber finish out their contracts if the home run hires will not accept the job. If Zook/Weber did not have large buy outs, then I can understand firing them and trying to get better coaches even if the improvement is marginal because you have nothing to lose. But here, there’s plenty to lose (that is all the buy out money) for trying upgrade your coaching staff and not getting the coaches you really want. Not just money, but time as well because apparently you have to give a new coach more than a few seasons even if he’s not your first choice (something I dont understand).

And bkenny, this is a barely acceptable season because the bar should never have been that low. We all agree that last year was an epic underachieving failure right? 6-12 in the Big 10 should not happen under any coaching staff. But, simply being “better than an epic failure” is not something to hang your hat on either. Nobody believed that with all the top 100 players on the team that they should be expected to have as bad of season as they did last year, even without Meyers Leonard. Again, simply being better than horrible should never be good enough. Thats a mediocre mindset to take.

Do you really Groce took a team with talent comparable to Penn State, NW, and Nebraska and got them to overachieve? I certainly dont. They are going to finish right around where they were picked in the conference. Purdue lost Robbie Hummell, is playing a bunch of freshman, and will probably finish with the same record as Illinois. Now who do you think did a better job – Groce or Painter? I highly doubt there are many Purdue fans at all saying Painter did a great job either. They are probably saying he did an acceptable job, nothing special. So why does John Groce deserve accolades? Have some standards.

ATOillini March 7th, 2013

One more thing……If Kentucky doesn’t make the dance with all those top draft choices (sorry…I meant to say all those McD all-Americans) then Coach Calipari should be fired! Right?

Illinigrad March 8th, 2013

Weber lost his touch. He should have been fired. He did not win enough games and was not getting the team in the NCAA. His record really slipped. Zook is a different case. He is not an elite coach but the players played hard and he had a team go to two straight bowls and win. You don’t fire a FB coaching staff AT ILLINOIS after going to two straight bowls. You just don’t. Beckman is a continuing train wreck. The FB program will only sink further as long as Beckman is here. Thomas made a bad hire. His ability as AD will quickly be tested by how long he hangs on to Beckman.