Yesterday the new athletic director at Illinois (Mike Thomas who came over from Cincinnati a few months ago), announced that Ron Zook would not return as head coach.
Just a couple of quick thoughts on this job. First, Illinois has the assets and the support within the university to win. The University has consistently invested in facilities (new weight room, good enough indoor practice facility, etc...). They have all of the standard amenities one would expect at a Big Ten program.
No doubt that the next head coach will need to have great recruiting capabilities in order to win consistently; but that shouldn't be a problem at Illinois.
In short, this should be considered a great job and we have no doubt (see our incoming texts) that a there will be significant interest in the job.
In his presser yesterday, athletic director Mike Thomas said he largely would lead the search and that he didn't anticipate relying on an outside firm. Thomas stated at the presser that he plans to use the Greg Byrne approach (i.e. "you won't hear from me again about this search until I announce the new coach").
It's early; but names being talked about by guys we believe are informed include Brent Venables, Butch Jones, Mark Stoops, Paul Chryst and plenty of others. We'll keep you posted.
In Tommy West's last season at Memphis, the Tigers went just 2-10. Larry Porter was brought in to improve the talent level starting with the local athletes. Porter was credited with bringing in some talent; however two seasons later, Larry Porter was released Sunday after winning just 3 games in 2 seasons.
Porter inherited a difficult situation without much depth or talent. In both of his seasons, Porter started true freshman quarterbacks.
The Memphis job is currently a difficult one. Tennessee historically has dominated the state in terms of recruiting. Vanderbilt is clearly on the rise. Ole Miss, just an hour away, will soon have a new coach, who undoubtedly will recruit the Memphis area hard. Even Arkansas State is now taking some players from the city. We understand the athletic director plans to step down within the year as well. At a school who's basketball team has done quite well, the commitment to the football program has not been so clear. Local financial support (i.e. Fedex) isn't as strong as it could be and is something the new staff and administration will need to shore up.
Couple all of that with the fact that inner-city Memphis is seeing increases in crime and poverty as well as education issues and this won't be an easy place to win.
Attendance was very, very low this season and it's going to take some new found excitement to begin to fill the Liberty Bowl again. Hate to use the term; but this really sounds like a rebuilding job.
Monday night football...the dome's going to be loud.
All times are eastern.
NY Giants at New Orleans - 8:30 - ESPN
Video: Zook's statement
Always a very difficult day for any coach. Ron Zook handled it with class.
In making the announcement, Illinois' AD was extremely complimentary of Zook as a person (called him an A+ person) and a leader (just felt the football team needed someone new at the helm).
46 teams still have games to play
A lot of coaching moves today and there will be plenty more this week...and 46 teams still have games to play.
Here's a look at what's left to go.
Thursday December 1, 2011
West Virginia at South Florida - 8pm - ESPN
Friday December 2, 2011
MAC championship game: Ohio vs. Northern Illinois - 7pm - ESPN2
Pac-12 championship game: UCLA vs. Oregon - 8pm - Fox
Saturday December 3, 2011
Syracuse at Pittsburgh - 12 - ESPN2
Conference USA title game: Southern Miss at Houston - 12 - ABC
Connecticut at Cincinnati - 12 - ESPN
Iowa State at Kansas State - 12:30
Wyoming at Colorado State - 2
UNLV at TCU - 2:30 - Versus
Utah State at New Mexico State - 3:30
Texas at Baylor - 3:30 - ABC
LA - Monroe at Florida Atlantic - 4
SEC Championship game: Georgia at LSU - 4 - CBS
Middle Tennessee at North Texas - 4
Idaho at Nevada - 4:05
Troy at Arkansas State - 4:30
New Mexico at Boise State - 6
BYU at Hawaii - 7:30 - ESPN2
Fresno State at San Diego State - 8
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State - 8 - ABC
ACC Championship game: Virginia Tech vs. Clemson - 8 - ESPN
Big Ten Championship game: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State - 8:17 - FOX
Saturday December 10, 2011
Army at Navy - 2:30 - CBS
Steve Spurrier with the quote of the night
From last night, after South Carolina beat Clemson 34-13, head ball coach offered this one up to keep the fans from Clemson livid all off-season...
"We aren't LSU and we aren't Alabama. But we sure ain't Clemson."
Steve Spurrier ladies and gentlemen.
While you were sleeping
USC embarrassed UCLA. Early in the 4th quarter, it's 50-0. UCLA AD Guerrero had been building the case for keeping Rick Neuheisel for another season; but after this it's hard to imagine that being an option.
San Diego State, after a slow start, is putting UNLV away easily. Big changes coming for UNLV's staff.
The Scoop is going to be active the next few days. Keep both eyes on it!
James Franklin taking Vandy bowlin (for real)
James Franklin guided his team to their 6th win today and yes, Vandy is going to a bowl game (not bowling like he took the team in August)
It's hard to find the words to explain what Franklin has achieved in his first season as head coach. In short, it's remarkable. It's not the 6 wins and it's not going to a bowl game. It's the way that he has completely overhauled the program. Recruits now want to speak with Vandy because they are seeing Coach Franklin on ESPN, on the internet, on local TV. He's a tireless recruiter for his program.
In August we spent an afternoon with the Vandy staff. Believe it or not, that day, there actually were not any cameras following James Franklin around; but it seems that every other day Franklin or some facet of Vanderbilt football is showing up on the net. Hard to argue with the results.
We expect more and more programs will begin utilizing video to tell the story the way Franklin has over the course of this year; and that's a good thing.
Congratulations to Coach Franklin and the entire staff at Vanderbilt.
Video below was from mid-August when Franklin surprised the team by taking them bowling.