About five minutes after Bruce Weber was shown the door in Champagne we heard the most hyperbolic statement ever. “Illinois Fighting Illini is a top ten job.” That statement of idiocy came from the usually reasonable and prudent mind of CBS and Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis. Sadly, he said that one live television too.
It has become so common place in college athletics, a big job opens and it’s immediately considered a top ten position. Illinois is without a doubt a great job. Top ten? Not even close. Let’s not mistake the two. Top ten jobs are at places like Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina. They’re jobs that very few coaches around the country could say no to. They’re places where recruits flock to because of the name they’d wear on their chest. Top ten jobs by their very definition are schools that carry the face of the sport.
We saw it in football this past fall. Penn State. Great job. Not top ten (even before the Sandusky scandal). Ohio State? That coaxed one of college football’s best coaches to come out of retirement earlier than he expected. (No one expected the Ohio State gig to open when Urb stepped down in Gainesville).
On it’s face I completely disagreed with the idea of Illinois being included in such grouping. The process has only further proven that. Everyone assumed Shaka Smart was a done then. Then Shaka Smart said no. Brad Evans said no. It left Illinois with their hands in their pockets and no coach to speak of. Who knows, they might love their jobs, their players, and understand they can build a power where they’re at. By the same token, they might be waiting for a legitimate top ten gig. Does Shaka Smart say no to Kentucky? Probably not, but even if he did and they followed up with Brad Evans, it would be hard to believe both those guys would say no to job like that.
Let us not mistake a great job as a top ten job. A top ten job is without a doubt a great job. A great job is NOT necessarily a top ten job. I guess Illinois fans learned that the hard way.