New Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has sent a letter to season ticket holders (which is also posted on fightingillini.com) detailing his search for a new coach. Of course, no names are mentioned.
Here's a sampling from the letter:
"As our search for a new head football coach moves forward, I have a strong sense of the type of coach we need to realize the potential of Illini football. I intend to contact a trusted group of friends who are well respected in collegiate and professional football circles. A successful football coach at Illinois or any top-tier college program must have talents beyond the knowledge of the game, particularly for a program intent on establishing itself consistently among the Top 25 BCS programs in the country and at the top of the Big Ten. We will find this person for Illinois!
"Unlike the recruitment of a top-tier member of our faculty or the majority of prospective student-athletes, coaching candidates who reach finalist level for BCS coaching jobs are often known to the mainstream media, talk shows and message boards, which are such a big part of today's media landscape. During coaching searches - including the early stages of this process - we have heard the popularity of certain candidates in the eyes of the public. Many seem to understand what we should be looking for in our next head coach. We appreciate the letters and emails, and the passion that fuels them."
Thomas also talks about the upcoming bowl game, the importance of the character of the next hire and his desire to have the person stay a while.
Sounds like he is getting close.