It’s official: As reported by ESPN, the Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team has fired head coach Bruce Weber after a horribly disappointing finish to a 17-15 season.
His six NCAA tournament appearances in nine seasons couldn’t save him from this train wreck.
Now, the Illini are faced with the tough task of finding a new head coach.
But, with so many fantastic coaches at the mid-major level, finding the right guy shouldn’t be too difficult.
If the Illini hire one of these five guys, they should be just fine.
Alford has Big Ten experience, coaching Iowa from 1999-2007.
Most recently, he’s been doing quite well as the head coach of New Mexico. He’s amassed a 122-45 record in his five years with the Lobos.
His Big Ten experience with the Hawkeyes could lead to success at Illinois.
He’s made the tournament five times in his coaching career and will probably be in it for a sixth time this March.
This might be a hard deal to pull off.
That’s because McDermott’s son, Doug, is a sophomore for the Blue Jays and is one of the best players in the country right now.
Leaving Creighton and his son would be a lot to ask of McDermott.
But, if he could convince his son to transfer to Illinois?
Well, that would just be splendid.
This will be the first year the Shockers have made it to the NCAA tournament under Marshall, but he’s been successful since taking over as head coach in 2007.
He’s amassed a 109-59 record, and his team won the NIT last year.
He also led the Winthrop Eagles to the NCAA tournament seven times in nine years prior to coaching Wichita State.
He’s a winner wherever he goes.
It might be possible to lure Stevens away from Butler this season after the Bulldogs suffered through a mediocre year.
After two straight NCAA runner-up finishes, it’s understandable why Stevens wanted to stay at Butler.
But now, his Midwestern recruiting powers might be best served at a bigger school—like Illinois.
Imagine what his name recognition could do for the Illini in the Chicago and Indianapolis areas.
Smart is another coach that didn’t want to leave after a Final Four run.
But barring another deep tourney run this season, he might be more open to leaving this offseason.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas and Smart have worked together before, so convincing Smart to come to Champaign is not out of the question.
He’ll need to recruit different players for his “havoc” defense to work, but he’d be a great coach for a long time in Illinois.