By Joe Henricksen

The next Illinois basketball coach

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By Joe Henricksen

A little less than a decade ago, the Hoops Report had its choice for the next Illinois head coach when Bill Self departed for Kansas. The belief here was Thad Matta, the successful coach at Xavier, was perfect. He was a local boy who, very likely, would have been more than content to stay put in Champaign, which was something athletic director Ron Guenther coveted after watching Lon Kruger and Self leave for bigger jobs and more pay.

Now, almost 10 years later, the Hoops Report's vision is very clear again. Forget plan B and plan C. Just do whatever it takes to get plan A done. But Illinois is going to have to be clear with its vision and be prepared to go big. The Illinois basketball program will need to go overboard in comparison to what it has done in the past, step up in terms of contract years, bonuses, perks and money. It's time.

First, I make getting access to a plane very easy for the next coach, assuring any new coach that this perk will be readily available. This is how an elite program operates. This sounds simple, but you wouldn't believe what an underrated perk this is for college coaches--and one more and more coaches call for in their negotiating. Every top-tier program has this available to them. Did Bruce Weber have access to a plane from time to time? Sure. But we're talking rock star-like, full access plane availability.

I also show what the plan is to renovate Assembly Hall, which has quickly evolved into one of the worst facilities in the entire Big Ten. Illinois is past due for a major upgrade, and that has to be laid out to the next coach, showing that it's feasible and doable--and sooner than later. Take a look at the facilities at Michigan State and Ohio State, currently the two premier programs in the Big Ten. There is no comparison.

I also give the head coach a minimum of $550,000 (preferably $575,000) to spend on his three assistant coaches. That's going to allow you to, yes, spend really big on one superstar assistant and still be able to pluck two more top assistants off most staffs around the country. It was absurd that Jerrance Howard needed to be coveted by other programs before being taken care of by Illinois.

I give this head coach the security with a minimum of six years, going to seven years if needed. Have you looked at the length of so many of these college coaches' contracts? And we're not just talking high-major coaches or coaches at the nation's most elite programs. Lorenzo Romar at Washington is signed through 2020 at $1.7 million a year. Anthony Grant at Alabama is signed through 2018, Ben Jacobson at Northern Iowa through 2020 and Brad Stevens at Butler through 2022.

And, most importantly, I open the checkbook and throw around all kinds of money. You can't afford to mess around and hide pennies. Not this time. Not in this climate, both in the college coaching world and where the state of the Illinois basketball program currently sits. It's just the nature of the beast in college coaching. Say what you want about coach Bruce Weber, but what Illinois brought him in at in terms of money ($450,000 per year) and years (5 years)--even at that time--was almost embarrassing. Elite programs, top 15 programs, do not work that way.

So that means paying a minimum of $2.2 million a year and willing to go to $2.5 million for six or seven years. The $15 million for six years is a nice round number -- and an astronomical one, especially when you consider it's a million more than the coach who took the program to a Final Four and won the only two outright Big Ten titles in over 50 years was making.

But I'm not done.

In addition to the high price tag that needs to be paid to the next coach, Illinois needs to get creative with its contract. And that means bonuses. There are many coaches around the country with attainable performance bonuses in their contracts. In addition to his annual $900,000 per year deal, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall gets $18,000 for a conference title, $18,000 for NCAA Tournament berth, $36,000 for a trip to the Sweet 16 and $54,000 to reach a Final Four. Among many bonuses he receives, Grant gets $25,000 for graduating 85 percent of his players and $100,000 for taking Alabama to an Elite Eight. VCU's Shaka Smart has 30 different bonuses in his contract to add to his $1.2 million per year deal.

So in addition to the $2.2-$2.5 million per year salary, Illinois can lump in a whole bunch of other incentives and bonuses to lure its next head coach.

There is no question the high dollar amount will put pressure on a coach who will be dealing with a fan base that is already a little misguided with expectations.

But you know what? Superstar coaches can handle it. They can handle it all and they aren't afraid of expectations. And true superstar coaches, who excel and thrive in various facets of the profession, are way more difficult to find than you think -- and actually attract. Illinois hired one when Bill Self was brought in from Tulsa. But even when Self was hired, no one could have guessed Bill Self would become the Bill Self superstar we now know he is.

Illinois is a really good basketball job. No, it's not a top 15 job as many Illinois fans believe it is. But when you consider there are just over 340 Division I schools, Illinois is clearly in the top 10 percent of all college basketball jobs in the country. That's still saying something.

If the salary is in the $2.2-$2.5 million range, along with additional bonuses and perks previously mentioned, the job climbs a little closer to that top 15 or top 20 job status.

Which brings me to the name the Hoops Report feels so confident in giving that type of coin to if Illinois is absolutely prepared to go the big boy route, which Illinois must do to secure the high-level coach fans expect. What's odd is the name fits with what the fans seem to want and the current athletic director has his eyes on.

Shaka Smart.

Many fans are clamoring for Smart and, according to one close source, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas is clearly targeting him. And, heavenly sent, they're both right and on the same page. He needs to be the No. 1 target. He needs to be 1A, 1B and 1C. Yes, he is the hot mid-major coaching name, but it's more than that. This isn't about winning the press conference, which this hire would do, or about the catchy name or hiring a minority. This is about hiring the best, most realistic candidate that has superstar potential.

Will people and "experts" have concerns or questions? Sure. Handing out that kind of dough and security to a coach at Smart's age with just four years of head coaching experience under his belt is, pretty much, unprecedented. And then there is the system. As fun and entertaining as it is to play in that style as a player and watch as a fan, it's rarely ever been done in the tough, rugged, grind-it-out Big Ten. There have been samplings. Illinois' famed Flying Illini did a whole lot of pressing and trapping with Kenny Battle at the top of that press. And Iowa, under Dr. Tom Davis, was another Big Ten program that had success with its fullcourt pressure throughout the 1980s. That was Iowa's calling card, their "system". But those styles, though similar to VCU's current identity, were never to the degree VCU plays or havoc it tries to create. The Rams are relentless in getting out and pressing and trapping fullcourt.

But the positives far outweigh the questions and concerns with Smart. Yes, the fact Smart guided VCU to a monumental Final Four berth last year put him in earlier-than-expected stardom. But the fact he lost what he did from that team and is right back in the NCAA Tournament this year is even more appealing. He's won 27, 28 and 28 games in three seasons.

When you watch Smart's VCU team play, YOU want to get in the game--or at least be in the darn arena watching them. But what has been more interesting is talking to various people over the past few weeks who are a whole lot more familiar with Smart. As many others have, I've been personally impressed with Smart, so I started researching this potential Illinois coaching candidate several weeks ago.

Personally, I like that Smart has worked under two coaches in Billy Donovan and Oliver Purnell with proven track records of recruiting, building a program and playing fun styles of basketball. But it's what so many people have to say about Smart, including many off-the-record conversations where there is no reason to praise the hotshot young coach. There are just too many people who have too many great things to say about him to ignore, including ...

Smart's system is "chaotic discipline."

His teams "are relentless and wreak havoc."

He brings "accountability throughout the program without the dictatorship attitude."

He is "wicked smart" and "organized."

He "relates to everyone" in basketball circles--from prospects to parents to prep coaches to coaching colleagues.

He will have "a Bill Self rise."

He brings "a passion and energy that is true in every sense."

He will "never have a problem recruiting, no matter where he goes because he's personable and gets after it."

In addition, a Smart hire will re-light a new fuse under current assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who is feeling such mixed emotions. While talking with Howard earlier on this hectic Friday, he was emotional and distraught over the fact the man he respects and cares so much about, Bruce Weber, was let go. But he also knows that he now has a job to do as interim coach of the program, no matter how long or short that might be.

More importantly, as it pertains to Smart, it's one head coach who Howard would be enamored working under. While it remains to be seen whether Smart will want to keep Howard on board, it seems silly to part ways with a coach who has true Illini blood running through him and has built a bond and earned respect from those around the city of Chicago and state of Illinois. But there will be plenty of heavy hitters pursuing Howard as an assistant in the coming month.

The question is whether Smart has interest in Illinois. He turned down N.C. State last year and could have had the Maryland job, according to many. From all accounts, he loves coaching at VCU and he and his wife love living in Richmond. He has a young, talented team in place that is going to its second straight NCAA Tournament. He makes great money ($1.2 million per year plus all those bonuses) with less overall pressure. His contract is lengthy and offers security. He has access to a plane. The facilities are good and in the process of being upgraded. He can be choosy. He has the right to think he could be the Mark Few of the east.

These are all the reasons why Illinois needs to do all it can to make it impossible for Smart to say no to being the next coach at Illinois. When you have a star--or the potential to hire one--you do what it takes. Illinois should have taken care of Bill Self well before Kansas even became a real possibility. Although it may have not changed things, at least it would have made Self even more hesitant than he already was of leaving Illinois. Maybe Smart says no. But make it a toss-and-turning, can't-sleep-at-night decision for him.

Shaka Smart is the biggest potential superstar coach-in-waiting. Will Illinois be able to convince him of that and land him?

Follow Joe Henricksen the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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52 Comments

shaka smart has won with anthony grants recruits and if not for an absolute crazy shooting percentage in last years tournament no one knows shaka smart from shaka khan. he is the flavor of the month. heworked for billy donovan for 1 year or should i say 8 months his resume is way more soft then ur leading on. anthony grant is the better choice pure and simple

Shaka would be smart to consider this job. And whoever lands it would be a fool not to work his tail off to retain Jerrance.

Who cares whose players he won with? Bill Self won with Lon Kruger's players at Illinois and then showed he could recruit. Shaka has several of his own players, the majority in fact, playing on this year's 28-win NCAA Tournament team. Lord, I hate statements like this.

Have a real good friend in the coaching business. He is a high major assistant. He has been stating just what Joe said in this blog about what Shaka brings to the table. Says he's a no brainer. A star in waiting. My buddy recruits Chicago and says those people will immediately gravitate towards Shaka.

Great detail and thought out blog here Joe. Appreciate the effort in showing some specifics and not just rambling. Will be interesting to follow to see how this shakes out.

who cares who's players he won with? you r probably the same guy who said weber won with selfs players. Anthony Grant is the better choiceN i know Both guys and I am telling you Anthony is a better coach and a better recruiter. damn VCU should not of even been in the tourney last year they had to play in and then got hot. And they under achieved all last year during the regular season based on the talent Anthony left Shaka

No one is debating Anthony Grant vs. Shaka Smart on these messages but you Anonymous. Glad you know both. Happy for you. So now we gotta debate. Lets ignore five tournament wins last year, ignore the 28 wins this season after losing 3 starters. Ignore all the experts and just say Shaka isn't worth the hype? Anthony Grant certainly has a longer track record and longer resume. Didn't Grant win with someone else's players his first year at VCU when he went to the NCAAs and got into the second round, which was the deepest run any of his teams have ever made? And its not as if Bama is actually rolling these last three years. Will they make the tournament this year?

Yes, forget Shaka! His success doesn't count.

I see Joe how strongly you feel about Shaka Smart. But lets say he doesn't want to come. Just for kicks who would you want or think Illinois should go after based on all the factors with the job?

Um Anthony Grant took over a bad program and then when he won left for Alabama which was terrrible and has them on track to make the NCAA. Smart walked into a good situation and won big deal....its just like all the experts a few years ago who said Darrin Horn was the next great coach, won at Western Kentucky with the guy before him players and no is going to get fired at South Carolina cause he can't recruit. Shaka Smart is a luck mother thats all he aint the sh.T like all you mothers think I am telling you word out!

For certain the newby must establish partnerships with Chicago and other IL coaches to recruit, and that takes time to build trust. Huge question is Jabari Parker. He is not considering VCU so could Smart scare him away? I saw where Reggie Theus was courtside with Parker's mom. BTW, anyone notice how Peoria Richwoods recruits dwindled after Weber hired away McClain? New guy could hire in Simeon's Smith to land Parker but that might hurt the farm system like Richwoods.

Please tell the media to stay out of the selection process for a new basketball coach at the University of Illinois. After reading your article, it appears "Big Money" will solve everything. Instead of it being the answer it often leads to bad decisions and corruption. Not once did you mention the importance of a man's character and work ethic when working with student athletes.

Should've given Bruce one more year. Integrity should count for something.

To Barbara Parrin. Have you seen the top programs in the country and what their coaches make? If you want the best you have to pay them. Pretty simple really.

Pretty much agree with this story 110 percent! Spot-on. If Illinois really is a top 15 program, which it isn't, they need to start acting like one. Top 15 programs don't pay less than 2 million for their coach. Their coach doesn't fly coach. Personally, just go get a cheater and break the mold in the Big Ten. Thats what we did in the 1980s. Worked well.

If Illinois isn't going to pay for its players it should at least go and pay big for a coach. Damn.

Lets see how Shaka does year 5 and 6, when he is playing with his recruits. Even Bruce Webber won with Bill Selfs players. And you say he learned so much from Ollie Purnell at DePaul ( a proven program builder ) the last time I checked, Purnell has DeStink right in the cellar AGAIN ! he is not building anything at DePaul except a reputation as a bad coach who chokes in close games !!!

This argument is so stupid. Well, Shaka won 28 games this year and counting and basically has his entire team back next year - 4 starters. Pretty sure he might be pretty good next year since he starts two sophomores, two juniors. In his 8 man rotation this year, there are three sophomores and two freshmen. Grant bring in those players too?

Um, VCU is loaded for the next two years if anyone cared to pay attention. And by all accounts, Shaka is doing just fine in showing his ability to coach. We act like these are mcdonalds all americans VCU is nabbing.

Great, methodical, objective analysis of the Illinois situation !!

Getting a successful coach vs one with character and integrity is NOT an either/or:
- Shaka Smart scored a near-perfect score on his SATs and was accepted to Harvard & Yale. He turned those offers down to play basketball at less prestigious Kenyon College for a coach he admired and felt he could learn life-lessons from. He believed it was the best decision for him, regardless of what others thought he should do. I think that displays character and confidence. 15 years later he was earning millions of dollars/year at age 33, so apparently it also shows wisdom.

- Anthony Grant, new to the Bama job and under a great deal of pressure to win games, still had the guts this year to suspend one of his better players for the entire season, and later to suspend his two top scorers for multiple games, all for violating team rules. And the team still won big games without them. That, to me, also shows character and integrity.

I would be proud (and confident) with either of these men leading the program at Illinois.

Shaka Smart would be a perfect fit with the U of I. Hope both sides can get it done.

Its so funny how everyone says Illinois needs to put up a boarder around this state to recruit then we get guys like Joe pounding their chest for a guy who has minimal recruting relationships in the state. Now we know all the big AAU guys in the area know every coach nationally from summer tournaments but seriously a guy who has coached exclusively in the south whether it be Smart or Grant is really the best choice for an illinois job as laid out? Should it be the best coach you could get? Getting the guys mentioned is thinking small and just the hot name. What Illinois really needs to do is think big. And by that I mean they need to do what they did when they hired Lon Krugar years ago and go hire a head coach from another Big Six conference school who has had success recruiting and coaching in a major conference. Enough of getting guys having success at a smaller school (VCU's success is different than SIU's success under Weber how? ok advancing in the tournament but overall it sounds the same) Go try and hire a guy from the Big East (Williams, Cronin, JT 3)the SEC (Stallings,Donavan -why not try!)the PAC 12 (Miller, Romar) etc. Kansas went and hired Self away from Illinois not some coach from VCU!!!

On a side note..I agree with Tom Izzo...I'm disappointed that we lost a good coach...yes the past 6 years have been mediocre but let's be real, the expectations each year to compete with the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Kansas in terms of recruiting and winning are unrealistic. Yes Illinois is a traditional basketball school but as a fan I don't have the expectations that we will go to the Final Four every year. The taste of victory has made a lot of Illini fans have delusions of grandeur. I'm a fan win or lose. I hope the next coach doesn't have the early success that Weber had and gets crucified when he doesn't take the team to a National Championship year after year.

All due respect to Illinois, but I don't see why this job would be so attractive? Champlaign

Shaka would be going to a school whose success in major sports, outside of a Final Four a few years ago, is pretty much non-existant in the last 20 years. The job is similar to NC State, unrealistic expectations from an unrealistic fanbase.

I have no issue with Shaka as the next Illinois coach, but should we give more of a push for Brad Stevens? Some say that he would never leave Butler except for a truly elite job, but he has to be having second thoughts about staying at Butler for the next 10 years when the curret squad finished third in the Horizon league and lost to Valpo by almost 20 in the Horizon tourney. No NCAA run this year. He caught lightening in a bottle with a really talented group of kids, but that kind of success will be really hard to repeat at a place like Butler over the long haul.

As I come to expect in this blog, another well researched, thorough look at something that does show what a basketball program needs to do to be competitive. I am Illini fan but realize it isn't the job many of us seem to think it is. I mean in the last 30 years we haven't had even the success of an Arkansas as far as Final Fours, title game appearances, Sweet 16s, Elite Eights, etc. Their facilities are better. I'm not going to go on and on but for a program that is so wonderful as we say, why have we had so few big seasons over the past three to five decades?

Call me an eavesdropper and a tease but I happened to be sitting near coach Weber and Joe at Argo Sectional and tried oh so hard to listen to their conversation throughout the second half. And some of the stuff I heard was VERY interesting but feel bad spouting off on Joe's blog especially when he does such a good job covering recruiting and such. At that time they were already talking about Weber being fired but talked about the program and where it was at. But also how certain coaches that were actually being considered weren't right for the job.

do you mean current DePaul coach Oliver Purnell? program builder? 72-68 at dayton in A10. 50-62 and Clemson in ACC. 4-32 at DePaul. and that is the mentor you mention?

@VCU fan. over the last 20 years, Illinois has won 462 basketball games. how many has VCU won? I have been to Richmond, if you dont happen to get shot there, I guess it has a few nice places. just stay away from the govenor or he might shove an ultrasound up your keister

We need an established coach not someone with 3-4 years of coaching experience. We went down this road before with Weber. If the new AD is serious about taking Illinois back to the top of the conference he should look at Jay Wright, Jamie Dixon and possibly Ben Howland.

Scott Drew at Baylor should be considered. First, he might be willing to stay if he wins. He turned around a program that was beyond shambles (remember the Dave Bliss stuff). And he has proven he can handle the pressure of coaching in big conference.

I make a point about your relatively irrelavant football and basketball program and you talk about our Govenor's conservative agenda? Really? Your response only proves my point.

Ill might not be a top 15 job, but it's top 20 without a doubt. Weber should have been let go 3 years ago, but the spineless AD could not fire his friend and didn't want to admit the hire did not workout.

I believe the way you want the University of Illinois to just throw around it's money, you make Barack Obama very proud.

exactly if this job is as great as everyone says it is than why not get Jay Wright or Jamie Dixon to come here. You don't get a mid major coach or an asst. for this job. That is thinking way to small but then again it proves how this job is overrated if that is all you can get

Anyone who quetions Smart's ability to coach clearly has not seen his teams play. Like Joe says his teams play hard and fast and to say that they are entertaining to watch is truly an understatement. They were a play away from playing for the national championship last season with no NBA caliber talent. I watched them blow Purdue, Georgetown and Kansas off the floor in succession last season and immediately knew that this guy is better than good.

That team lost 3 starters from last year's team and they appear to be just as good this season, 28 wins going into the tournament. This, to me, suggests one thing that is very important here, his system is BETTER than the players executing it. That is not something you see much anymore in my opinion. His teams remind of the old Georgetown and Arkansas teams under John Thompson and Nolan Richardson, respectively.

Again, I agree with Joe, this guy is a star waiting to happen and if U of I has a chance to get him, they should do what is necessary to do it.

Darnell if you remember last year at this time Seth Davis, Jeff goodman, Andy Katz, joe Lunardi, and Dick Vitale were all going nuts that VCU even GOT IN the tournament. they all argued that they did not have a regular season deserving of a bid. They made it as a 12 seed in the playin game at Dayton and won a game vs. USC which USC single handidly blew themselves running the shot clock down possession after possesion. Then VCU goes n a magical run and everyone is in love with Shaka Smart. The experts a year ago said Shaka didn't do a good enough coaching job with the talent he had now he is the anointed one?? Which is it seriously go get a guy who has proven more than a few weeks of magic....get a guy like Miller, Stallings, Dixon, Few, or Wright if this is really the Big Time job everyone thinks it is. You hire Shaka Smart if you are a middle of the road big conference program who cannot attractg a big time coach. And his press will get shattered int he Big Ten, its a grinder league with Big Time Coaches, get a provenBig time Coach not a someone the media is in love with because o fhis name.

Over the years you are one who has a clue about Illinois basketball program so you should write more on it and expand because you bring great, detailed info and insight. Give us more. So many clueless people. Just read another mundane story about the state of Illinois basketball with nothing in it. Keep it coming.

JOE: You stated who your guy is here with Shaka. Tell me what you think the chances are Illinois lands him? And if not, who is best choice? Thanks for all you do and your writing on Illinois preps and Illinois Fighting Illini basketball is best around here.

@Hoopdirt, did you see the Purdue game last year? That game was decided within the first ten minutes. Not only did they beat Purdue, they demoralized them. Again, the thing that resonates about his teams is how hard they play, translates. If you look at how handily they dealt with Purdue, Georgetown and Kansas with mid-level talent at best, it says something.

They lost the core of that team and have won 28 games this year with basically a new group. Again, that says something. They have a very good Wichita State team their first game of this year's tournament. Let's see how they do this year and go from there.

Of course I'm not the AD and don't have to live with the possible consequences of the decision but I would not hesitate to hire this guy if I could. I'm sold.

I don't about his name but I know what I see and that his teams are good. Do your research and tell me how many of the established coaches started by coaching in so called 'middle of the road conferences'. Get back to me on that one

Not to say that I don't see room for agreement, but name 15 better coaching jobs than Illinois.

Shaka Smart wouldn't take the job even if it was for 5 million per year and all the free 5 hour energy drinks he gives his players right before tip off. He knows exactly what he is doing and will wait until the Duke or UNC positions become available. He will continue to win 25 games per year until that happens.

Darnell....VCU shot 70% from the field vs. Purdue. they were flat out hot, it happens when teams get on a roll. Jay Bilas on Mike and Mike this morning talking about the NCAA tournament selection process again talked about how last year he thought the committee made a huge mistake choosing VCU based on their regular season resume and that their run proved nothing about their regular season resume other than they got hot at the right time from a chance he fealt they didn't even deserve. So you want to hitch your top 10 program to this guy I'll take a pass and go get a guy who is more proven. Btw Shaka Smart will NEVER be the coach at UNC or Duke Dave. Those jobs will always go to a member of the family not an outsider. At one las thing Shaka Smart has one of the 2 best jobs in his conference. You don't go take the 5th best job in the Big Ten by that logic anyways unless the money is way off the charts good.

Coach K wasn't in any kind of Duke family when he was hired as coach although they now have a bunch of them sitting on the bench waiting for the position to become available. VCU shot 70% against Purdue because the Purdue players were standing around watching VCU run right past them for layups time after time. Go get Jay Wright. Unfortunately everyone wants him. He can recruit big time players but why would he want to come here? Shaka is a very good coach and great motivator but I don't think the school will hire a black coach. And who gives a crap about what bias Bilas thinks.

I think everyone here underestimates potential of the Illinois basketball program. It should be ranked 3rd behind Ohio St, Mich St. With a top notch recruiter(like self was) THey could easily be the #1 team in the big ten. Illinois would be raking in the top recruits from chicago, indianapolis, and st louis. This job should be a coache's dream. I agree with the author, Shaka would own the big ten, recruiting wise. I don't want the illini to get Shaka, i am a michigan fan.

Hoopdirt, in the end we can agree to disagree. We can agree, however, that they did as you put it 'get on a roll.' That roll didn't happen through some sort of osmosis it happened because they made it happen by suffocating their opponents and shooting the ball well. I didn't hear Jay Bilas' analysis on them but I did hear Dan Dakich's over the past few weeks speaking to the bias toward the BCS conference schools. He'd been saying for weeks that VCU was clearly better than alot of schools that were on the bubble at the time and because he works for the Big Ten network he specifically mentioned Minnesota and Northwestern, saying that VCU was clearly better than either one of those teams. Now that's his opinion, my point is that there are different schools of thought out there.

To me, being good is not necessarily a testament to how long you do something but how well, so when you mention coaches who are more established than Smart, it throws me when those coaches have not done what he has done which is take a team to the Final Four. By your standard, Brad Stephens is not very established either, is that to suggest that he isn't qualified to coach in the Big Ten either?

Darnell: I would take Brad Stevens 6 days a week over Shaka and twice on Sundays but I do not think he wants the job nor is it probably a good fit for him personally because there is a big difference coaching at Illinois than coaching at Purdue, Notre Dame etc. which he has been rumored to be offered the job to last year had Painter actually taken the Mizzou job or Brey the Maryland job .. Stevens has it made the tournament four times in five years and two runner ups in the NCAA's. His resume is way better than Shakas but Illinois already had a guy with Brad's demeanor in Lon Krugar and people criticized him because he wasn't flashy enough like a Bill Self. Think about it Lon Krueger was criticized from the media that he couldn't recruit? Couldn't recruit my rear the guy got all those McDonalds All Americans from Peoria but they weren't from Chicago so the media and the CPS coaches jumped on him. The guys I mentioned -Wright, Dixon, Mller, Williams, JT3 have the resume and cache to not only win but have done so with city kids as well which will appease the masses.

Who are these morons saying Illinois isn't a top 15 job. Here is an idea pull your collective heads out of your asses and study a little history. Illinois has been a fairly successful program throughout history under many coaches. I thinks it is something like 13th all time in wins. One website had Illinois having the 7th most number of weeks all time in the AP top 10. It is dead even with Indiana(supposedly a top 5 program) head to head 73-73. Its seems as most of these poster are about 12 or 13 and probably think Butler is a better all time program than UCLA. Get real Seth Davis and I think Andy Katz said its was a top 10 job. Oh and it led the nation in attendance for all games in 2004-2005 and had the largest Home capacity at one time when The Assembly Hall was Built.

To Dennis, all us "morons" as you stated -- and some are Illinois fans like myself -- do live in a realistic world. You act as if everyone believes and agrees its a top 10 or top 15 job. Not many, if any, top 10 or top 15 jobs go 60 years with only two outright conference championships. They have four Elite Eight berths and two Final Fours in 40-50 years with no national championships. A total of nine Sweet 16 berths in 50 years! Huh? A program like Arkansas, for example, has had way more success than Illinois over the last 30 years. Nope, we're not morons. Just expecting a little more success out of a program that is a top 10 or top 15 over the past five decades.

On top of what the Coach says, can you name a top 10 or top 15 program in the country that currently has fewer players playing in the NBA right now? Yes, we're morons.

I'm starting my own rumor. Marty Simmons didn't lose 160 lbs for no reason at all. Illinois needs to hire Marty Simmons away from Evansville!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 9, 2012 3:04 PM.

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