It’s getting ugly in Illinois. But at least one Big Ten coach isn’t happy about it.
The Illini (16-11, 5-9 in Big Ten) have dropped five straight and eight of their last nine, including a 23-point loss Saturday at Nebraska. Following the odd post-game press conference coach Bruce Weber held after Wednesday’s loss to Purdue and it seems as though the buzzards are circling in Champaign, especially after athletic director Mike Thomas hinted Weber’s tenure is almost over .
Weber, now in his ninth season at Illinois, has been to a Final Four. He’s won a Big Ten title and been to six NCAA tournaments. However, this’ll be the sixth straight season in which Illinois has at least 10 losses, which is hardly what one would expect given the talent Weber has on the roster.
But any thought of firing Weber just isn’t justified, says Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
“I think he is a phenomenal coach,” Izzo said. “Look at his record, look at what he has done there over the years compared to anyone else who’s been there, and they’d have to agree. They had a tough year, like I did last year.”
“I’ve been disappointed. I love Illinois. I think the fan base, they’ve always been great, but you get a new AD in there,” Izzo said. “A week ago, talk about not giving him a very good (sic)… if you are going to get rid of a guy, do it at the end of the year. I think that hurt him Saturday, you could tell by his players. But knowing Bruce like I know him, I know it will be hard, but he’ll find a way to bounce back. He’s not a good coach, he’s a great coach. He really is, he’s proven that.
“I’m not an AD, but I mean put it this way, when an AD does what happened it affects your team and recruiting.”
So what’s Weber think? He’s done with the downer press conferences. He just wants to focus on Ohio State Tuesday night, then Iowa on home on Saturday.
“I can’t have my own pity party,” Weber told ESPNChicago. “They can’t have it. There’s no sympathy from anyone. Obviously, you guys know it. It’s out there. If we keep feeling sorry for ourselves, we’re going to let the season slip by. We have to man up. Tough times stop; tough people don’t.
“I told all the guys I don’t want any more tears until the end of the season. We just got to play.”
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