Winning really is everything in major college sports, as Bruce Weber's dismissal shows.
Within a month — assuming all goes according to plan — the University of Illinois will have a new men's basketball coach.
Who it will be is a mystery. So is the future of Fighting Illini basketball, and, as is usually the case when a new coach comes on board, people are excited about what lies ahead.
It's a similar situation for Bruce Weber, who was dismissed after nine years at the helm. It will be no great surprise if he quickly lands another job and gets back to his passion — coaching basketball.
But all the talk about the future shouldn't obscure the past. Although the wind came out of the sails near the end, Weber had a good run at the UI.
His overall record was 210-101, including an appearance in the 2005 national championship game. The Fighting Illini won two Big Ten titles under Weber and made six NCAA appearances.
Fans now are focusing on Weber's final 17-15 season, including a backbreaking collapse midway through the conference schedule. People can speculate as to why — recruiting misses and mistakes, injuries, the wrong offense or defense. Those factors all are part of competition in major college sports, but the bottom line is winning.
Illinois didn't win enough games in the past couple of years to justify maintaining the status quo. Weber himself acknowledged the "bottom line" nature of his business and seemed resigned to his fate. Whether it should be or not, college sports is a big money business. The money goes to those who win.
But character matters, too, and Weber's character is impeccable. He is a respected individual and a great ambassador for the game. Whether he was raising money for Coaches vs. Cancer, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens or just signing autographs and talking to people, he was always gracious and sincere.
Weber is sorry to be going, and we're sorry to see him go. But he'll take with him the respect and affection of many thousands of Illinois fans and do well wherever he lands.