Shaka: No thanks, Illinois

Shaka: No thanks, Illinois

For Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas, it appears to be on to the next one.

Sought-after coach Shaka Smart informed Illinois he will stay at VCU, a source confirmed today. The fansite reported on its Twitter account that Smart turned down an offer from Illinois.

VCU hasn't commented on the speculation today, but sources indicate the school could release a statement or hold a press conference to formally announce Smart's decision.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the school made it official.

"I am very grateful for the support and belief in the coaching staff and basketball program that comes from the very top of our university's leadership — President Rao, Athletic Director Norwood Teague and the VCU Board of Visitors — well as our phenomenal fans," Smart said. "There are great things to accomplish at VCU and I'm looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university."

The rejection wasn't entirely unexpected. As speculation on Smart's status grew stronger, so did indications he would stay at VCU.

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aaeismacgychel wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm


Wait a second... That's not...  Awwww dammit... So, does Tim Beckman have an African-American brother we can hire?

griff507 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Just as with the football coach search, Mike Thomas has failed to get his first choice for coach.It's not as easy to sell this program as all of us fans would like to think. Bruce Weber may be as good a coach as UI can attract. I sure hope not but when you offer to double a coach's salary, and you still can't get him to come, you have a problem somewhere. Time will tell about Beckman, let's hope for the best in both sports. Here we go with second or third choice again. Go ILL-INI!

UIUCHoopFan wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Dear Mike Thomas,

Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  0-2 on first choice hires for football and men's basketball.  I say 3 strikes and YOU'RE OUT!

Salt Life wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm
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It may be dawning on many after Illinois has been turned down by their first choices and AT THAT very popular ones nationally in both football and now in basketball that Illinois is just not a premium destination for major sports coaches after reputation has been eroded by many years of mediocrity and poor leadership. It will take a long time for Illinois to climb the ladder of respectability. Winning and becoming a genuine contender is the most sure way of getting there. Let's see what Thomas has up his sleeve for Plan B. (Supposedly Beckman was a Plan C or D) All's well that ends well. I'll reserve judgement until I see what next coach does in competition. I expect better results the very first year already though and Big Ten championships < 2 years. Get it done Mike or your seat will get hot too!

PeterE wrote on March 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I was following the Shaka Smart recruitment closely with interest. It was first reported that there was solid interest from Shaka, and that money would not be an issue. Finally the sticking point and what proved insurmountable was Thomas' insistence that Smart recruit the elite players from the Chicago area (perceived as necessary to win a national championship). Smart had severe misgivings about his being able to recruit Chicago's elite and balked. Thomas tried to integrate Jerrance Howard and Robert Smith (coach of Simeon) on Shaka's potential Illinois staff as the assistants that could deliver Chicago's best. Shaka still wasn't convinced and was ultimately unwilling to accept the pressure, responsibility and expectations Thomas would have layed at his feet for his $2.5 Million compensation. Shaka in the end felt safer and more comfortable staying at VCU with less pressure and without the unknowns and different staff. Thomas gave it his best shot and tried to allay Smart's concerns. Pressure is what got to Smart when all is said & done .

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm

LOL, whatever. Or maybe a clean coach like Smart didnt want any part of recruiting Chicago - if you were following it so closely you may have read that he was checking into the Chicago situation. Or maybe he didnt like being force-fed assistants, if what you say is true. In any event, he was far and away the best choice for the job, and being unable to sell him on the job after he was publicly linked to the Illinois search, was just another failure by Thomas. He talks about UI competing for championships, but the only thing he has proven is that he sure can not compete for top coaches.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

I would say Mike Krzyzewski is far and away the best coach for the job.

As he was in 1996, when Guenther apparently contacted him about replacing Henson. Things didn't turn out too bad then, with Lon and then Self.

So no, I wouldn't get my n--s all tied up over Shaka Smart. There are so many coaches out there better than Weber, you could close your eyes and pick at random.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

yeah, so many coaches that have coached in NC games.

Besides, as far as picking a coach, the problem isnt us picking them, the problem is them picking us. Starting to look like Thomas couldnt sell bottled water to motorists stranded in the desert. Football is one thing perhaps, although in the end he had to overpay for a guy not even on many lists, but in hoops too? Please. And for it to be so public, and hence a public rejection, its humiliating and not the way this should be handled.

read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

Read the link: Coach K turned down Gunther precisely the same way as Smart did.


Or are you still trying to count the number of players from the 2005 team that made it in the NBA?

houstonillini84 wrote on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

I did read the link, and it was not the same. Please show me hard news headlines that say 'Coach K rejects Illinois offer' and then it will be the same. A private indication that you arent interested is not the same thing.

Are you the guy who said coach Kruger recruited Chicago well? LOL

read the DI wrote on March 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Name the Chicago player Kruger wanted and didn't get. He had 3 All-americans from Peoria, so who exactly did he need from Chicago?

Are you the guy who said onlY one player from the 2005 team made the NBA? lol

illiniearl wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I TOLD YOU!!!  (Hey Dan Bloeme - I guess Earl is smarter than Shaka!).

Dan Bloeme wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Ok congratulations Earl so smart (Shaka's Dumb),
you win the big kahuna prize, meaning -> Bloeme

Jam wrote on March 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

If this guy is as good as many say, then money will not be the only motivator.  Certainly the Illinois reputation is a consideration, but what is going on with his life in total.  He knows that the money will always be there.  Perhaps VCU gave him a incentive to stick around, or perhaps he has a loyalty to his players.  Many factors can enter into a high power negotiation.  Give Mike Thomas credit for not being scared of going after a big dog.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

jeeze, have we lowered our expectations so much that a coach from freaking VCU is a 'big dog'???? I give Mike Thomas credit for nothing except failing to get his top targets in both football and basketball. Football was a little bit understandable but now hoops too? this is becoming a complete joke.

read the DI wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Now let's look at WHY he couldn't get his top choices:


1. Football: perennial doormat.

2. Basketball: Weber destroyed the program.


And the common denominator? Ron Guenther.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

LOL. Never get tired of the same scapegoats, do you? The talk I hear says that the issues surrounding recruiting in Chicago are a big issue, especially for a clean coach like Shaka. It appears he spent some time checking into that. No one knows what exactly led to his final decision, but its hard to imagine that the Chicago stuff wasnt a factor. I doubt RG was even an afterthought. Who cares about the former AD. As far as Weber 'destroying' the program, hyperbole much? Its not like we are on NCAA sanctions or something, we just had a bad year and even in that bad year we had some very nice wins.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

This from the same clown who whined incessantly that we were being too negative about poor Brucie Weber and how we were going to ruin the whole program.

Pot, meet kettle.


dhendricks71 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Well said, I think they finished 17-15 and had 2 top 10 wins and won a tournament and their ACC-B10 challenge game.  This talk of how low the program has sank is a cancer.  Outside of IU, MSU, and OSU their isn't a B10 team with more talent coming back(hopefully) next year.  Whoever is coach is will be lucky to come here next year.  In fact it wouldn't surprise me at all for them to be in the Top 25 and tournament bound next year(with or without Leonard hopefully with).

arch73 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I'm with you Houston.  VCU is a dump and not highly regarded academically.  This is just an embarrassment.


jules61 wrote on March 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

vcu may be a dump, but smart is a good coach.  He wants to make his team a top 10 or top 5 every year and be talked about in the same sentence as duke etc.. more power to him.  We need a coach like that. Obviously not him but someone who does not cater to whiners and mediocrity.  I have high hopes for the incoming players and hope that the ones  who are still here, will stay and help rebuild our program.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

What a disaster. We cant even manage to hire the coach of freaking VCU.

Now the word is that Grant at Bama isnt interested either. Unbelievable. Pretty soon we will be getting turned down by Div 2 and high school coaches! ('no thanks Mr Thomas, I prefer staying in my current job as the assistant coach here at the junior high. Chicago recrutiing is too much of a cesspool'.)

Too bad for Thomas that hiring a new coach is as important than firing the old one. He has the second part down but is struggling with the first.

But dont worry, when we do hire a new coach, if Thomas doesnt like them, he can undermine them too during the season.

Moonpie wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I'm sure Moses Tate has told Thomas by now who he has to hire--Moses Tate!

1IlliniFan wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Here we go again.  Mr. Tate has already told Thomas who to hire.  Probably a White Guy - Right?

Doesn't he know that the new coach has to be black.  We (the real racists) won't stand for a white guy as coach because he's white.  We want a black coach because he is black.

How about we want the best coach white or black.  There are also other races too - maybe we shouldn't say white or black.  Maybe we should go back to wanting the best coach for the program. 


oandb wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Didn't take long for the BW lovers to crawl out from under their rock. It's sad that Bruce is gone but you can follow him at Eastern or SIU or wherever he ends up. Mike Thomas has plenty of choices and all will be far superior to Weber. 

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Maybe, maybe not, but lets not be blinded by Bruce-hate. Bruce is gone. He is out of the discussion. The problem is that two of the candidates that were clear favorites (Shaka especially but also Grant even though I personally didnt think Grant was a great choice) are out. Shaka would have been a home run hire, and we cant even get him to leave VCU. I have trouble believing our AD couldnt sell him on UI. How sad is that.

Anyway, there are a lot of mediocre coaches out there; some look like bad hires now and some will turn out to be bad hires. Hopefully we get a good hire, but the odds are sure less than they were and the excitement factor may be a lot lower. Very dispiriting for Illini fans.

read the DI wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

This wasn't a problem before Bruce Weber took over.


We will be feeling the after-effects from that loser for years.

peterborich wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

You know, all Mike Thomas can do is try to get the best coach he can, and sometimes, the first choice does not turn out to be the best choice.  Our AD's track record as to hiring winning coaches is sterling.  Bruce Weber is the best we can get at Illinois? Hardly....

IlliniLous wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

As hard as it is to believe, it appears the post-Ron Guenther era will actually be worse than the Ron Guenther era.

Not only has MT failed to get his first choice of Head Coach for football or basketball, he missed in a way that embarrased the university and made it harder to attract quality candidates as the second choice.

I have no reason to believe that Tim Beckman will be a better coach than Zook (who won back to back bowl games and took us to a Rose Bowl).  Nor do I have any reason to believe that whatever coach we ultimately hire in basketball will be any better than Bruce Weber was in the post-Dee years.

Prepare for 15 years of finishing 9th or lower in the B1G in football and basketball every year.  

helping wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Zook's game management and specific on-field coaching were among the worst in the country, as exemplified by the performance of the D before Koenig took over and by the special teams, where Zook was directly responsible.  His clock management was a laughing-stock.  It would be impossible for Beckman to be worse than that.


Personally, I like what I've seen from Beckman's staff so far in terms of enthuiasm, recruiting effort and getting guys on campus, holding players accountable, and building a spirit of competitiveness.  Of course, the true test will be given on the field starting Sept. 1st, but in a few years we may be very glad that Sumlin turned us down.


Illiniwek66 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Time to step back from the ledge.  The post-Ron Guenther era hasn't even passed the one year milestone yet.

Not sure how Smart's decision to stay at VCU makes it harder to attract quality candidates.  Is he badmouthing the university or Thomas?

You have no reason to believe that Beckman or the new basketball coach will be better than their predecessors.  You really can't have any reason to believe that they won't be any better either.  And Zook won ONE bowl game at Illinois, in Texas.  He was not the head coach for the Mac and Cheese bowl this past season.

If you plan for failure, it will probably follow.  I plan to see us finishing in the top for the next 15 years.

Go Illini!

tunacommander wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

A daring hire would be Reggie Theus but you have to remember Thomas would not call Mike Leach so it's highly likely that the greenhorn AD will hire another unknown flunkie

helping wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

Well the last basketball coach that this "greenhorn AD" hired is coaching tonight in the Sweet 16.  That's something Guenther hasn't been able to say since 2005.

dhendricks71 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Not very likely in BB.  Sorry its just not going to happen.  There's enough talent in BB next year to compete. Ill bet their in the upper division in BB next year.

jules61 wrote on March 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I would like to know the stats on colleges getting their first choices in hiring coaches.  I believe that Illinois had a great program and will have one again, but i am not sure every college is fortunate enough to get their first choice as far as coaching hires.  If that were the case, every year coach K would have people beating down his door and would be coaching at a different college every year.

reno808 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

lets all remember he said no to NC State and where are they this year? the right coach will say YES and we'll be back!!

DoubleR13 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

What a friggin disaster this has turned into.  Just a PR nightmare.  Thomas is very publicly 0-2 on top candidates.

You get the feeling Illinois is poised to be at the bottom of the big ten for a long time.  Wish I could be more optimistic but retreads like Lorenzo Romar aren't the answer.

magsr213 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Hey Illini fans, I have a solution to your dilemma!

Mike Davis has been fired from UAB.

1. He will satisfy your trustees requirement

2. He has been to a Final Four (championship game 2002)

3. He probably doesn't like Indiana very much anymore

What else could you ask for :-)

Salt Life wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm
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No Thank you. There's a reason he has been fired twice. Good reasons.

Buzz Williams, Leonard Hamilton, Anthony Grant or John Groce hopefully.

griff507 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Why not give it to Jarrence Howard?  He bleeds orange and blue, he can recruit, the players all love him, whats not to like?  He can always hire someone to help with the x's and o's. Reward him for all he has done for the UI. Maybe he can get Deon Thomas to help coach, and hire Dee Brown to help recruit players. Thay makes as much sense to me as the coaches that are left to pick from. The only really good choice left that I see is John Groce, other than him, Go Jarrence!

RPeterE wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I agree, Williams, Groce, Grant and Hamilton are the next best candidates in order.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Anthony Grant has already said he isnt interested. Its been reported.

Buzz Williams would not be hired if we are truly committed to a clean, ethical program.

Hamilton is a good choice but he is old, hard to see him building a program long-term.

ptevonian wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

This is no more of a disaster than recruiting the hottest players in the country and having them go elsewhere.  If you don't ask, you have no chance.  Shaka holds all the cards here, and it's his choice.  It's widely reported that the one thing Illinois can offer -- money -- is not likely to be a motivator for Coach Smart.  It's not a reflection on Illinois as much as it is on Coach Smart and VCU and his priorities.

As for Thomas, I'm happy he is at least trying for guys like Sumlin in football or Smart in basketball. That we were turned down is hardly Thomas' fault.  That's like you being hired to clean up a mess at your new company, and then being blamed for the mess!  

People have said they have no reason to believe that Thomas will be any better than Guenther.  Well they have no reason to believe he'll be worse, either, because his coaches have coached a total of ZERO games at Illinois and have a total of 2 recruits committed.  Why not give them at least, AT LEAST, a full season before you begin judging them, or him.  If you fell the pressing urge to judge Thomas, why not look at his past coaching hires, and see how they've done.  Brian Kelly, Mick Cronin -- those guys have done alright.

Patience, people!

IlliniLous wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

As for Thomas, I'm happy he is at least trying for guys like Sumlin in football or Smart in basketball. That we were turned down is hardly Thomas' fault.  That's like you being hired to clean up a mess at your new company, and then being blamed for the mess!

Thomas could have easily pursued Sumlin and Smart without it being a huge national story that we had offered both millions to both and both turned us down.

Thomas is not being blamed because UofI athletics was a mess when he took over.  He is being blamed because the actions he has taken so far (football hire, undermining Weber in middle of season, Shaka Smart pursuit) have all completely and totally failed.  Thomas' job isn't to offer coaching positions to talented people, it is to make sure that quality people are actually hired

I think Thomas is out of his league at Illinois.  Just like Weber was a great coach for SIU, but stunk at Illinois.  Thomas was a good AD for Cincinnati, but it looks like he can't cut it at a land grant state school like the UofI.

But what else would you expect from the AD hand selected by Hogan.

RPeterE wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Well said ptevonian! It's not Thomas's fault Illinois football and basketball programs have been unsuccessful and become undesirable to the best coaches in the game. It will take time to build up those two programs and for Illinois to eventually become a premium destination. At least Thomas first offered the most widely considered and most popular head coaches in football and basketball respectively.  Because of the mess Illinois program was in due to incompetent past athletic director Guenther and coaches Zook, Weber and Law, Thomas is facing an uphill battle. Consequently Illinois may not get the best coaches this time around but Thomas and his new coaches will hopefully revive the Illinois major sport  programs, enjoy success and elevate Illinois to a more premium status and respectability for the future.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I thought the only thing that mattered was success? When an AD cant get his first choice, or 2nd choice, or even 3rd choice, since when does he get credit for a good try? LOL. he either gets his guy or he doesnt. You guys say Weber didnt achieve success consistent with a top 15 program. Fair enough. But now when the new AD cant attract a candidate consistent with a top 15 program, thats OK?? Why?? Either its a top 15 program or it isnt. If it isnt, then dont hold Weber to that standard. If it is, then hold Thomas to that standard. But you cant have it both ways: it is when you want to fire Weber but not when you hire the new guy. LOL, please.

Anyway, Thomas is making us look like a joke. Pathetic.

RPeterE wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Thomas can't force another coach to say yes to Illinois if he doesn't want to come here. All Thomas can do is go down the list of best coaches available and at least offer them a level of pay, facilities and support to make it extremely hard for them to say no. So far Thomas has been doing just that. If Thomas was the AD at more successful and appealing schools his job would be much easier. The prior AD and coaches he hired are responsible for current mediocre state of our major sports programs not Thomas. So far Thomas is doing as well as anyone could reasonably expect given the deterioration of Illinois football and basketball allowed under the previous regime. It's the previous regime's neglect and  ruination of our programs which is now giving candidates pause and leading them to say no. That and the fact that not everyone will say yes to Illinois regardless. Heck, some won't say yes even to OSU! Enough with your misplaced Weber adoration Houston! Why don't you and Bruce get a room.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

so much for salesmanship, huh?

I dont mind Thomas gauging Shaka's interest, thats a good call. What isnt a good call is making it so public, because then the rejection becomes public. Doing it this way in hoops after the football fiasco is humiliating for the school.

read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

You mean like how Illinois was ruined after Coach K turned down the chance to replace Henson?


houstonillini84 wrote on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

Uh, Smart isnt exaclly coach K, now is he? Unless you think VCU = Duke, and several NCs and FFs = one FF, and one of the winningest coaches in college hoops history is the same as a 35 year old from a low major. Other than that, they are exactly the same, LOL.

read the DI wrote on March 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Uh, it doesnt matter now, does it. It made Lon Kruger the second choice. According to you, that is a sign of a bad program.

OKOMIS wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

no what really matters is the trend... if your getting better and better good... if you are declining, that's bad..

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

No, Weber and Zook and Guenther made us look like a joke. Thomas has the role of coming on and trying to turn the audience after all the warmup comics have bombed.


houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

it was far FAR worse than this when we hired Lou Henson and Mike White. It can be done, we just need an AD who can do it. Talk is cheap, we need an AD who can walk the talk. When we talk about coaches its all Ws and Ls, fair enough, then shouldnt the AD be judged the same? Either he gets his guy or he doesnt. Did you give Weber an attaboy for recruits he barely missed? No? Then why so eager to give one to Thomas? And its one thing to miss on your coach, but quite another for it to be so public that it reflects on the school.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Well, Mr. Ron Guether wasn't the AD when UofI hired Henson or White. And for that matter neither was Mike Thomas. I see no harm in extending an offer and getting turned down. Guenther got bounced on Coach K and that wasn't the end of the world now, was it?

These problems are not of Thomas' making. Weber had to go. Zook had to go. Law had to, well, who cares about women's basketball ... she could have stayed for 10 more years I guess. But those other two clowns were long past their expiration date.

So you remain in need of a point, minus the one atop your noggin.



houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm

You see no harm in repeatedly making offers that are turned down, publicly? You dont think that makes us look bad? And again with the coach K thing, there is a difference between being told he isnt interested, versus headlines that say 'Smart rejects Illinois offer'.

Saying that Weber had to go or Zook had to go has nothing to do with it. They are gone. Its history. The point now is how we go about hiring a new coach that doesnt make us look pathetic, or have coaches publicly play our AD like a violin the way Sumlin did.

read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

How many players from the 2005 team made the NBA again?


You've repeatedly demonstrated an inability to understand anything. It's time to go home.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

One became a star that everyone who follows the NBA has heard of. One guy was a backup who most recruits never heard about in the NBA, pretty much the only ones who know his name are Rockets fans and Illini fans. And the other guys never really stuck with a team. Sound accurate?


read the DI wrote on March 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

well now, that' s more than the one your pea previously recalled. Well Googled.

jules61 wrote on March 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

why is it Thomases fault that he could not get Smart and Grant.  You cannot MAKE someone come and be your coach!!!  This is not soviet russia....they like where they are at. Crimany what you said makes absolutely no sense. You could offer to 100 people and you still only hire one person. It is not a failure that you only hired one.  Let them have their teams, build their futures, families. Virginia is beautiful and I myself would not leave to come to illinois. too cold here.  as for the chicago connection, it is somewhat important.  There are some darn good players there that just need a chance.  That ordinarily would not get a scholarship in anything else.  Or maybe they would.  You all act like all chicago is is ghetto, crime drugs etc.. there are people that are trying to get out of there and if they are smart and driven and good at basketball, obviously we need them. who cares if they are from mars!! Jerrance does not have enough experience to be a head coach. we all like him and he has knowledge of the game and that is a good start.  We need a good coach, a driven coach who will make Jerrance a good coach down the road whether it is for us or someone else. Well, i am giving MT a chance to watch his coaching hires before I make a judgement.  I for one am willing to admit I know nothing about him. 

JimOATSfan wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Who didn't see that one coming???  Smart has no Chicago ties or recruiting experience there.

This is not rocket science. Hire:

A- Chris Collins from Duke and pair him with Jerrance for Chicago & suburbs recruiting. Have Chris get Duke alum Christian Laetner to tutor Illini bigman Leonard Meyers for his junior season to get him ready for the pro's.  In addition, Chris has got his dad's and Coach K's network of contacts | explayers to help coach the Illini team.  We would be PTP (prime-time-player baby!)


B- Coach Smith from Simeon High School. Again pair him with Jerrance Howard for Chicago & Illinois recruiting.  Who has the best shot for landing Jabari & Kendrick for college than Coach Smith???  Keep Wayne McClain too, have Coach Smith bring in 1 or 2 of his coaches and let the good times roll.

It takes more from an AD then running around telling everyone we will win league and national championships, then hiring coaches you knew when they were younger. Gotta think outside the box, inside the box and every which way.  Go Illini!



read the DI wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

The Chicago PS coaches are notoriously bad. And Howard certainly didn't learn anything about game management from Weber, except maybe what not to do. Not much reason to go that direction.

helping wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I'll puke if they hire either of those guys!  Collins is a butt-kissing weasel and coaching h.s. ball in Chicago is NOT adequate training to run a BCS program.


tunacommander wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Doug Collins the former scoring machine from Illinois State has expressed interest. Another good guy might be Derek Fisher. The AD needs to think about offering these guys before he fires the coach. He could have kept Zook for another season rather than hiring a greenhorn from the MAC. Weber lost control of the ship but is a decent family man and would have stayed another year.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

You mean Chris Collins, don't you? Doug Collins is head coach of the first place Philadelphia Sixers. He has never shown interest in college coaching.


Derek Fisher plays for the Thunder. (Or do you mean Steve Fisher, ex Michigan coach?)

jules61 wrote on March 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

I am with you.   A high school coach??? are you on something???? I like the idea of Dee coming back if we could get him in some position.  Deon Thomas?? I don't get why he is so great....

OKOMIS wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

When you wait for a program to get to this point before making a change, this is what happens… it’s not Thomas’s fault Weber was kept 3 years too long. Or Zook for that matter. We were at the bottom of the B1G this year.. that doesn’t add to our appeal… Guenther got a guy from SIU at our peak… it will take time for Thomas to unwind the Guenther mess…..

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

when RG hired Lon Kruger we were about the same as we are now. And RG didnt get publicly humiliated and turned down by multiple coaches, he picked his guy and hired him.

You dont seem willing to want to hold Thomas to the same standard as you hold the coaches. you say the coaches need to succeed, period. OK, fair enough. Then shouldnt the AD be held to that standard for HIS job? His job is to hire and administer coaches, not get turned down publicly and used as a bargaining chip (Sumlin) or turned down by a rising coach from a tier 3 school (Shaka). So far. Thomas is either bad at selling UI, or he is bad at choosing coaches who will actually accept if offered. He should know through back channels if the guy is willing to take the job, and know the answer will be yes before he offers the job. That is why the initial contact is often made through lawyers or agents or boosters. Instead, Thomas has taken it upon himself to make his interest public which then makes the rejection public too. Which means anyone who takes the job will have the whole world know that he was the 3rd or 4th choice. Jeesh.

OKOMIS wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

and the standards are wins and losses in games.. if his teams do as bad, i say don't waite for him to retire... fire him... so far his guys haven't won or lost a game.. i believe on giving someone the chance to see what they can do

JohnUI82 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

When and where did Thomas announce that Smart was his top candidate? All I saw was "according to sources." It doesn't take a genius to put 2 and 2 together--Illinois has the highest-profile vacancy, and Smart is the hottest candidate right now. That Thomas would go after Smart first was obvious.

Comparing the present situation to the Kruger hiring is ridiculous. There was no Twitter then; speculation was nowhere near as rampant.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

well the headlines on both ESPN and The St Louis Post Dispatch are: 'Shaka Smart rejects Illinois', (ESPN specifically says 'Smart turns down Illinois' offer'), so it was a lot more than 2+2=4.

And no its not ridiculous to compare Kruger's hiring to now. I agree about Twitter but when it is reported and running in newspapers and the media, its not just Twitter conjecture or fan speculation, its being reported as hard news. Thats a big difference.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

Comparing the situation to Kruger also is ridiculous because, unlike then, Lon wasn't coming into a situation where the state had cut its contribution to its flagship school to the bone, the administration wasn't unstable, the AD wasn't brand-spanking new, and -- most important -- the basketball program wasn't in disarray.


Thank you, Bruce Weber and Ron Guenther!

houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

The basketball program is no worse now than it was in the mid 90s under Lou. Come on, we hadnt won an NCAA game in years under Lou.

And are you even capable of making a post without the word 'Weber'? Jeeze, the guy is gone, let it go. You guys wanted him gone and said that was all that was standing in the way to winning and consistent top 25s and sweet 16s. Now that he is gone, suddenly its 'oh my the program is a mess, its understandable coaches dont want to come here'. Funny that wasnt mentioned before Bruce was fired. Now its just excuses excuses and more excuses.

read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am


read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Wrong again. Guenther was turned down very publicly by Coach K in much the same manner Smart turned down Thomas.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Really, were there 'Coach K turns down Illinois offer' headlines in the newspapers? Because I dont remember anything like that. I was under the impression that RG was told privately that Coach K wasnt interested, BEFORE there was an offer. The article you linked doesnt say otherwise.

In any event, getting turned down by Coach K from Duke is hardly the same as getting turned down by Smart from VCU.

read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

You don't remember well, do you, Bruce?


Guenther approached K, who is from Chicago. Rumors ran rampant. K was forced to address it all publicly. Read the link. Where there's smoke, there's fire. I don't see Buzz Williams announcing he's staying where he is. That's because no one has talked to him.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

show me a hard news media headline that says 'Coach K rejects Illinois offer'. If you can, they are the same. If not, they are not. Internet rumors and second or third hand rumors arent the same. Especially back in the mid/late 90s when the internet was barely started and relatively few people were using it.

And coach K is hardly the same as Smart. Smart is a young nobody compared to coach K who is the most famous and winningest coach in college hoops. Getting told a hoops giant from a top 5 program isnt interested is hardly the same as getting turned down by a 35 year old from a low major. Maybe in your mind they are, which says a lot about you.

read the DI wrote on March 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm

That low major is a far superior basketball program than ours, thanks to Guenther and Weber.

helping wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Go Illini

loulonron wrote on March 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Remember, you guys asked for this! As much as I thought it was time for Weber to go, I still thought it might be wise to wait a year to see what Beckman did. How quickly some of you seemed to forget how much you hated Thomas' last hire. Then three weeks ago, you were so eager for him to do it again without first seeing if he was any good at hiring new coaches at Illinois.

Have fun!!

IllinoisTradition1980 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

What Illiniois needs is an Illinois man.  Surely in the last 20 or 30 years we have produced someone capable of leading this team and selling the program effectively.  If there's not anyone with experience, I'm all for giving it to Snacks, with firm assistants.  If this is not palatable, then the next name to be considered should be Pastner.  He is sharp, vibrant, recruits effectively and has already tried to lure JH away once, so they must have a pretty good relationship.

mahillinois wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

This is not the end of the world......Shaka is the best available but there are other options out there that will be a good fit for Illinois and can bring us back in to the upper crust of Big 10 Basketball. There is something to be said about loyalty to a school in this day and age and Shaka is smart (no pun intended) to stay put until he is ready to go.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

yes there is something about loyalty. But loyalty is a two way street. Some coaches feel that Weber was undermined during the season by the new AD, and that could influence how the job is perceived. Although frankly I think that is a minor issue compared to convicing a clean coach to come in and successfully recruit Chicago. People always say that UI should be able to do that, but except for a brief time under Lou and Jimmy, we never did. Maybe there is a reason why, and the people who blame the coaches for not recruiting better in Chicago have their heads stuck in the sand. It may be that hiring a clean coach and a coach who can recruit Chicago are to some extent mutually exclusive.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

Seems to me Henson/Collins and then Kruger/McClain and Self/McClain successfully recruited Chicago without issues, the Deon Thomas setup notwithstanding.

Or perhaps you want to argue that whole Bruce Pearl thing again. And history has shown was a lying liar he is.


The tipping point came when Weber couldn't land a player coached by his own brother. The wheels completely came off after that, and Weber was reduced to offering scholarship to kids in diapers. What a pathetic joke he is.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

wow, this post shows how little you know about Illinois and college hoops. We recruited Chicago well under Kruger? Really???? We didnt recruit Chicago well AT ALL, in fact Kruger was blackballed by the Chicago coaches because Jimmy Collins wasnt hired.

Self wasnt here long enough to say he recruited anywhere well. He had one year of recruits, the first year was mainly Lon's, and the last year he left.

We havent recruited Chicago well since the Lou/Collins era and that ended with the sanctions, which is probably the biggest reason Lou lost his job, we werent bringing in the top talent anymore.

You need to read up on this stuff and not sound so ignorant.

read the DI wrote on March 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

You are a silly little man, aren't you? Still think DW3 was the only player from the 2005 team to make it in the NBA?

The Collins/Henson problems had nothing to do with the sanctions and everything to do with the summer bridge program that the players like Jamie Brandon didn't want to do.

Kruger got the guys he wanted -- every Tom, Dick and Harry wanted the Peoria players. Kruger got them all. Recruiting wasn't an issue for him at all. McClain, Williams and Brian Cook -- three Mr. Basketballs in a row.

Self got Dee Brown and then as soon as he left for Kansas Julian Wright. Chicago wasn't a problem for him, either.

Maybe you need a bridge program.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm

LOL, you said Kruger recruited CHICAGO. Last time I checked Peoria isnt Chicago. Listing the Kruger recruits from other parts of the state just makes you look like an idiot.

Did Julian Wright come to Illinois when Self was here? If not, what does that have to do with anything?? Obviously Self has recruited very well at KU, and had one very good year at UI, but it wasnt like he established a Chicago-UI pipeline, was it?

And if you dont think that the Henson/Collins problems had anything to do with the sanctions, you are delusional. Before the sanctions, great recruiting success. After the sanctions, mediocre recruiting and the program stagnated. You do the math.


read the DI wrote on March 23, 2012 at 6:03 am

Is Maywood Chicago?


Math major, eh.

houstonillini84 wrote on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

Please list all the recruits that Lon got from Chicago that showed Lon recruited Chicago well (??!!).Otherwise admit you made a ridiculous statement.