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2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois Assistant Coaches Frustrated With 'Unprofessional' Handling Of Contracts

While the Illinois Fighting Illini and the UCLA Bruins players are locked into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday afternoon, Illini assistant coaches will be distracted by their tenuous contract situation and thinking about finding their next coaching job in college football. After the program fired Ron Zook and hired Vic Koenning as his replacement, some of the coaching staff stayed on with the team for the bowl game, but most have not been offered contract extensions by the school. Therefore, bowl preparation time has been cut down as coaches have been searching for new jobs in the game. Here is exactly why some of the coaches are up in arms right now:

Illinois assistants say they were assured a two-year rollover contract when Zook and former athletic director Ron Guenther hired them; however, when their termination letters arrived a few weeks ago, many were surprised to learn they'd only be paid through Feb. 28. Knowingly or unknowingly, many signed finalized contracts in the summer of 2010 that shortened the school's commitment to them in exchange for other concessions.

via Stewart Mandel of SI.com. This has left more than a few coaches with a bad taste in their mouth.

Quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm

Coaches have families, and you've got to try to find work. That's what time of year it is. At the same time, we care about the kids, and we want to give them all the help we can to succeed [in the game].

Running backs coach DeAndre Smith

It's awkward. We've still worked, we still have a game plan, we're going to go out and execute it, but the human side of it is extremely frustrating.

Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert

In 25 years [of coaching], this is one of the most difficult things I've been involved with. The transition between the administration and us has not been very good. Very unprofessional.

All quotes via Stewart Mandel of SI.com

For more, keep tabs on SB Nation Chicago and SB Nation's NCAA football page. For more on the Fighting Illini, check out Hail to the Orange, SB Nation's Illinois Fighting Illini blog. For more on UCLA, head over to Bruins Nation.