End Of An Era: Bruce Weber Fired As Fighting Illini Head Coach
Mike Thomas does not mess around. 24 hours ago, Bruce Weber was getting his players ready for the Big Ten Tournament and Iowa, today he is looking for a new job.
According to multiple reports, Athletic Director Mike Thomas has decided to buy out Bruce Weber's contract and end his tenure at the school.
Bruce coached at Illinois for nine seasons, with a record of 210-101, and six trips to the NCAA tournament. He guided the Illini to two outright Big Ten titles in 2004 and 2005, and took that 2005 team to the Final Four, the first since 1989, and finished as the national runner up.
Since 2005 though, things have gotten rockier and rockier. The Illini only had two victories in the NCAA tournament since then, failed to even make the tournament three times.
The incident with Jamar Smith and Brian Carlwell was a black mark that formally ended the honeymoon period in Champaign, and for the first time put Weber on the defensive.
Beyond that though, the disappointments on the recruiting trail and hardwood alike were what brought Weber down the most.
Missing on players like Evan Turner, Robbie Hummel, and Lewis Jackson hurt Weber, and not getting the players like Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose left the coach with sever recruiting gaps, which eventually showed true on the floor.
On the floor, Illinois has slid from perennial Big Ten contender, to conference also ran, to bubble team, and saw coaches like Thad Matta, Matt Painter and Jon Beilien take their programs ahead of Illinois.
And while this season began so optimistically, the cliff that the team fell off a month ago suggested that things were broken for the program, and Bruce probably wasn't able to fix it.
So, a tenure that began with so much optimism and success today ends after bitter disappointment.
You can't take 2005 away from Bruce, and his firing wont change any of the awesome memories that he was so key to creating. The toughest thing about this, is that for so long all Illinois fans wanted was a coach who would believe in their school and not constantly look for greener pastures, and we had that in Bruce, who for his first several years turned down many job offers, including probably at his old home of Purdue, because he wanted to be the next Lou Henson.
And now we are all ready to send him on his way. But like Bruce said just yesterday, probably with his job in mind "Life isn't fair, and basketball isn't fair."
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