The Illinois Fighting Illini have finally found their man, and they are bringing some MACtion to B1G basketball. John Groce, who has coached Ohio University the last 4 seasons, is expected to be officially announced at a press conference later today as the new head coach of Illinois basketball.
Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports originally tweeted the news late last night, after days of what is being called a “complicated negotiation process”. That is code for: Illinois didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing after Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart told them no.
Groce was being paid roughly $300k a year while at Ohio, and is expected to receive nearly a $1 million raise per year to take the Illini job. I’d say that is a win for him. Not sure it is for Illinois. I mean, yes, Groce got a lot out of Ohio, and pushed an injury riddled North Carolina to the limit in the Sweet 16, but now it is time to play big boy basketball all year. Is he ready for that? Is he ready to battle for recruits with Ohio State, MSU and Indiana? I’d say no. His name doesn’t have the cache that Stevens and Smart did, so those Chicago area studs aren’t going to be rushing to Champaign.
Groce and his two NCAA appearances, replace Bruce Weber and his two B1G Titles and 200 wins, including a trip to the National Title game in 2005.
H/T Chicago Tribune