After striking out on Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas has reportedly turned to Ohio Bobcats head coach John Groce as a leading man to replace Bruce Weber as the head coach of Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball. The rumors haven't exactly impressed the Illini fanbase, and although Groce knows the Big Ten from his time as an assistant with the Ohio St. Buckeyes from 2004-2008, he only managed a 34-30 conference record at Ohio and has never finished higher than third place in the MAC.
How are people taking the news of Groce potentially becoming the next head coach? Kavid Kaplan of CSN-Chicago send out a tweet that it might not be a hit with Chicago-area high school coaches:
Wow. I have spoken with some of the most influential HS basketball people in Chgo. today. Major backlash if Groce gets the job. Uh oh.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) March 27, 2012
Joe Kutsunis of SB Nation's Illini blog, Hail to the Orange, carefully breaks down exactly why the potential hiring of Groce has Illini fans disappointed:
John Groce isn't what is getting people upset, it is the fact that seven years removed from a Final Four, we are hiring an unproven commodity. After hiring well known coaches with successful track records we are hiring a MAC coach that has not finished higher than third in his league...
No Illinois fan should be happy with the knowledge that their program has deteriorated to such a degree in less than a decade, nor should they be satisfied that we ended up firing Bruce Weber for someone who is an even greater unknown.
...Illinois fans aren't upset because they think Groce is a bad coach or because they couldn't get their first choice or the anything like that. They are upset because taking a chance like this, without any clear strategy, is a sign of program taking a step back, and in doing so, it would seem that all of the progress that was made since the mid 1990's will have evaporated. And why should Illinois fans be thankful for that?
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