Angry Illini coaches may boycott bowl game
SAN FRANCISCO--It was already among the strangest bowls in the world.
Illinois (6-6) enters the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Saturday (2:30 p.m., ESPN) with a six-game losing streak, which might be unprecedented for a bowl team. UCLA (6-7) needed a waiver from the NCAA to play in a bowl with a losing record.
And the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, which pits two teams that have fired their coaches, keeps getting stranger.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said Friday he was unaware of a threat by four assistant coaches to boycott the game if the university doesn't resolve issues in the exit language of their contracts.
Assistant head coach/offensive line coach Joe Gilbert told Sports Illustrated's online edition that he, Jeff Brohm, Chip Long and DeAndre Smith--the entire remaining offensive staff--are considering not coaching when the Illini play UCLA Saturday (2:30 p.m., ESPN).
However, Smith said through an Illinois spokesman that he is not involved with any possible boycott or the contract squabble..
``If they want the bowl game to be coached,'' Gilbert said on SI.com, ``they better decide they want to treat us the right way.''
The coaches are reportedly upset that a late change to their contracts--which they didn't notice before signing--eliminates what would have been a full year of severance pay.
The situation is adding to the headaches for interim coach Vic Koenning. who's trying to stay out of the controversy.
``If they don't [coach], we'll figure out what the next thing is,'' Koenning said. ``I'm not going to worry about something that hasn't happened yet. I'm trying to worry about how we're gonna stop No. 8 and No. 83 and stay in our gaps.''
No. 8 is junior tight end Joseph Fauria, who has caught six touchdowns, the most by a UCLA receiver since 2005. No. 83 is senior receiver Nelson Rosario, who's fifth in the UCLA record book in career catches (143) and receiving yards (2,307).
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