By Joe Henricksen

Best Division I basketball coaching jobs in Illinois

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By Joe Henricksen

We will go ahead and anoint Bruce Weber as the coach with the best Division I college basketball coaching job in the state of Illinois. That much is obvious with the resources, tradition, facilities, Big Ten Conference affiliation, and recruiting ties to the state and Chicago that Weber and his staff enjoy.

However, after coach Bruce Weber and the Fighting Illini job, what programs are the most desired? Who has the best coaching job in the state outside of Champaign?

Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich can take some pride in knowing that a large pool of coaches who were surveyed over the last two weeks by the City/Suburban Hoops Report selected the Illinois State job as the best Division I head coaching position in the state of Illinois -- and in pretty convincing fashion.

The list of 22 coaches that were surveyed were told it was a complete off-the-record survey and their answers would be kept anonymous. The 22 coaches included current Division I head coaches and assistant coaches from around the state and a few out-of-state assistant coaches who are both familiar with the state of Illinois and have had previous college coaching experience in the state of Illinois. Coaches were asked to rank, in order, the top four coaching positions in the state of Illinois. First-place votes received 10 points, second-place received 8 points, third-place received 6 points and fourth-place received 5 points.

There are currently 13 Division I basketball programs in the state: Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola, DePaul, Northwestern, Chicago State, Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Bradley, Southern Illinois, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Coaches, who were allowed to vote for their own school, were told to consider everything when looking at the head coaching job at each school, including history and tradition of the program, facilities, fan and media interest, recruiting potential, quality of life in the town and area the school is located in, support system and anything else that goes into building a strong basketball program at each respective level of the Division I school.

Overall, Illinois State was most frequently listed among the top four, with 21 of the 22 coaches surveyed placing ISU in its top four. Illinois State secured by far the most first-place votes with 12, followed by Bradley and DePaul with three first-place votes each. Although Bradley received just one first-place vote, the Peoria school still edged SIU to finish second overall in the survey.

Illinois State has won 49 games and reached the NIT in the two years since Jankovich took over the program. The Redbirds, who play in the highly-regarded Missouri Valley Conference, are looking for their first NCAA Tournament berth since coach Kevin Stallings led ISU to back-to-back tournament berths in 1997 and 1998. The 21-year-old Redbird Arena is the second largest on-campus facility in the state of Illinois with a seating capacity of 10,200, while the practice facilities recently underwent a $500,000 renovation.

Here are a list of quotes that were given for various schools that received first-place votes....

"ISU is a short, easy drive to Chicago for recruiting and they are in a great conference [Missouri Valley]." .... "Combine the on-campus facilities they have, the conference they are in, local interest, some tradition, the community and Illinois State is the best job." .... "DePaul is still in the Big East, it's still in Chicago and they have the best tradition of any school other than Illinois. The facility kills them." .... "The fan and community interest in Bradley basketball puts them at the top. The people really care about that team and program." .... "Tough call between Illinois State and Bradley. The conference they play in is terrific, but I would have to go with the state school and the facilities at Illinois State." .... "Aside from last year, Southern Illinois just has it going success wise. They are in the [Missouri] Valley, can tap into St. Louis and Chicago as well. They pay well." .... "Outside some of the power conferences, I think Illinois State is one of the more underrated jobs in the country." .... "For the mid-major level, Illinois State has some great recruiting advantages with its location and facilities, while Bradley is still a name in college basketball." .... "DePaul is a tough job, but the right person can win there. The Big East is a draw to recruits." .... "I just think Northwestern really can be a great sell, where if it's having some success there is a national interest in the program because of the academics. Plus, it's in the Big Ten."

The Top Six
(final results of survey with first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Illinois State (12) ................................................159 points
2. Bradley (1) ........................................................ 123 points
3. Southern Illinois (3) ........................................... 116 points
4. DePaul (3) ......................................................... 97 points
5. Northwestern (1) ............................................... 51 points
6. UIC (1) .............................................................. 18 points

Others receiving points in the order they received them: Loyola, Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois

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7 Comments

THE DEPAUL JOB IS THE HIDDEN GEM, THINK ABOUT IT, THEY PLAY IN THE BEST CONFERENCE, THE SCHOOL IS THE LARGEST CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY IN THE UNITED STATES, THE SCHOOL IS LOCATED IN CHICAGO, ON THE NORTHSIDE, VERY CLOSE TO WRIGLEY FIELD, CAN YOU IMAGINE BEINE A COLLEGE STUDENT IN THIS ATMOSPHERE, NOW IF THE SCHOOL CAN RESSURRECT THE MEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAM, THE PERSON WHO DOES IT WOULD BE MENTIONED IN THE SAME BREATH AS RAY MEYER, I KNOW THE SCHOOL IS LACKING A CAMPUS FACILITY, BUT ALLSTATE ARENA WILL HAVE TO DO, LET THE WINNING BEGIN, DEPAUL SURE HIRED SOME HIGH POWERED ASSISTANT COACHES IN THE OFF-SEASON,
COACH WAINWRIGHT YOU HAVE TWO YEARS TO GET THE JOB DONE, AND I BELIEVE IN YOU COACH THAT YOU WILL DO IT, TO ALL CHICAGO PROSPECTS, DEPAUL IS A SCHOOL WORTH LOOKING INTO NOW THAT WINNING THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE IS A PRIORITY!

Wow has DePaul fallen. It's amazing that two to three decades ago this program could have challenged Illinois for the top overall spot. The Horizon sold out, NCAA Tournament berths, 25 win seasons, national rankings, big named player.....

Always felt those Missouri Valley jobs were underrated jobs for a college basketball coach. It's a great league. Another fantastic blog that interests the reader!

How can DePaul not be No. 2 over a bunch of mid-majors? What are these coaches thinking? I would go DePaul, Northwestern, Southern Illinois and Illinois State.

At least Diehard Demon admits where his heart is with his name and I would presume fandom of DePaul. But if you are a coach and looking at all of these jobs you have to be looking at a place where you can win to be able to keep your job. Or win and advance up the coaching chain. You can win at places like Bradley, ISU and SIU and gain some recognition. This survey is not surprising at all.

If the difference between Bradley and Illinois State was the practice facilities I bet next year's poll will even them up. Bradley is in the mist of a huge upgrade in this department.

Also I agree that DePaul is a hidden gem but to say that should be embarrassing to their administration. How the once mighty has fallen.

Peredon, While ISU has a practice facility I think a big plus for their players is the full access they have to their arena, Redbird Arena. The players have access to it 24/7 and its right on campus. It's not really a too much of a multi-purpose facility, pretty much used strictly for the basketball program. Plus, it's so easy to get to from Chicago with a straight shot down I55. Both Illinois State and Bradley are great jobs, though.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on August 24, 2009 6:47 AM.

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