The two most popular sports in the Big10 are undoubtedly football and basketball. Illinois hasn’t been doing to well at either of them. Halfway through the season it became obvious that Ron Zook was going to be fired, and with the basketball teams’ woeful season, Coach Bruce Weber shared his colleagues same fate. Tim Beckman will be Zook’s replacement, he was the coach of Toledo where he led the Rockets for three seasons, two of them ending in bowl appearances. Clearly its rebuilding time in Champaign for the football team since they are hiring a seemingly no-name head coach, but I guess his success still remains to be seen.
Indoors on the hardwood, things are actually worse for the Illini. They fired Bruce Weber at season’s end, and they still don’t have a head coach. Everybody’s dream hire right now is to get VCU’s 34-year-old coach, Shaka Smart. Being courted by high-profile teams is not something new for Coach Smart, at the end of every season it seems he receives numerous offers from large state University’s. Yet, the answer is always the same, Smart wants to stay at VCU, at least for the near future. Maybe he wants to build his legacy by winning in the NCAA tournament, or maybe Richmond, Virginia is a lot nicer than I think it is. Whatever the case may be, Illinois swung and missed at signing Smart. Now its back to the drawing board for the coaching search committee. Whoever it is, make sure they get players from Chicago schools to come down to Champaign. That isn’t the easiest task in the world I understand, but that is how Illinois has won before, and that’s what they need to do to win in the future. There isn’t any reason Illinois shouldn’t be fighting for a Big10 title every year with the talent that is available a mere 140 miles away. If you get a good coach, they will come.