Zook Gets The Hook; Hello D-Rose (and T.O. Too?)

Well, we were hoping the unthinkable wouldn’t happen but it did. The Illinois Fighting Illini football program completed one of it’s worst seasons in school history. They started the season 6-0 with high hopes and a lot of promise. But they finished the season 0-6, their worst losing streak since the 2006 season when they lost 7 in a row. After Illinois lost their first 4 games, rumors about Ron Zook’s job security started buzzing.

But the Fighting Illini lost the final 2 games of the season, the last game was on Saturday a 27-7 loss to Minnesota. Minnesota was the 2nd worst team in the Big Ten this year, beating Illinois was only their 3rd victory of the season. And after this disaster of a season, Ron Zook was fired from his head coaching job on Sunday morning. His dismissal ends a 7 year reign in which he compiled 34 wins, 50 losses, no conference championships, finished 5th the Big Ten Leaders division this year, and only 1 bowl victory.

His recruiting ability has been called into question because while he had a winning season every year while coaching at the University Of Florida, he only had 3 winning seasons at Illinois. His success at Florida was mainly because he had some of Steve Spurrier’s leftover recruits. While at Illinois he used mostly his own recruits and was mostly unsuccessful. Ron Zook will eventually land on his feet. I predict that he will either coach a smaller university, or he will be hired as an assistant coach.

But now Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas has to find a new coach for the U of I’s football team. Should Illinois get into a bowl game this year, Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning will be the Interim Head Coach for that game. But eventually a new coach and a new staff will be brought in for the 2012 season. As for candidates to replace Ron Zook are concerned, the coaches on everyone’s Christmas wish list have already been claimed.

Urban Meyer was hired this week by conference rival Ohio State, and former Michigan and West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was named the new coach at Arizona. So who’s left? Well the name on the Illini faithful’s wish list is former Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach. Leach who was fired after the 2009 season for a controversial run-in with a Texas Tech player has not coached since then. And according to reports Mike Thomas has already received a flood of e-mails and phone calls demanding that Leach be hired as the new coach.

Leach is the man who invented the “Air Raid Offense” which was adapted as a spread offense which is now used by several college and high school teams. Leach who coached Texas Tech from 2000-2009, posted an overall record of 84-43, and posted a bowl game record of 5-4. He never won a Big 12 Conference title, but he did win the Big 12’s South Division in 2008 which was his best season at Texas Tech.

Before coaching the Red Raiders, Leach was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma during the 1999 season where he worked with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Josh Heupel. Before that he ran the offense at Kentucky for the 1997 and 1998 seasons where we worked with the number one draft pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Tim Couch. Leach has a reputation of breeding record breaking quarterbacks. Aside from Tim Couch and Josh Heupel, Leach has also made prospects out of Graham Harrell, Kliff Klingsbury, and B.J. Symons. But Thomas has said that he will “take an appropriate course of action in finding a new football coach”. Another possible candidate could be recently fired UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. Although his overall head coaching record stand at 87 wins and 58 losses, 3 of his 4 seasons at UCLA were losing seasons. This year the Bruins went 6-6 this year, and won the Pac-12 South Division by default because of USC’s football team being on probation. But it wasn’t a pretty season at all.

But Neuheisel is quite the offensive mind himself, he is a big proponet of the West Coast Offense. He is also a man with his own line of quarterbacks such as Kordell Stewart, Koy Detmer, Marques Tuiasosopo, and Cody Pickett. But only time will tell to see who will be Illinois’ next coach. But after the misfortunes with both Ron Zook and Ron Turner, I am sure the University Of Illinois will make the right decision this time around.

NBA Lockout Ends

On a couple of side notes unrelated to this matter, the NBA will open it’s practice facilities to players today. Players can workout, and strength/conditioning coaches along with medical personnel will be allowed to monitor workouts. However coaches and executives will not be allowed to attend workouts. But on the plus side, teams can speak with player agents. But no official deals can be made until the new labor agreement {Which came to light early Saturday morning} is officially ratified by both the players and owners.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said that he hopes that teams can start making transactions on December 9th.

T.O. Touchdown?

As for the latest on free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens, there are rumors buzzing about that Owens could end up with the New England Patriots before the season is out. Owens’ agent Drew Rosenhaus has been spotted on the sidelines at Patriots games and has been seen visiting Patriots practices.

Even though Patriots Receiver Chad Johnson (No, “Ochocinco”) is also client of Rosenhaus, he normally doesn’t frequent teams sidelines as often as he has been with New England as of late. Could the addition of Owens push Johnson to become more effective on offense? Or would such an addition crash and burn like it did in Cincinnati? I guess we have to wait and see….

By Q101.com Blogga Gabe “The Animal” Salgado

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