Illini Fire Ron Zook; Athletic Director Mike Thomas Addresses Media

Illini Fire Ron Zook; Athletic Director Mike Thomas Addresses Media

You look at the pic above and think “what does a celebration from the Illinois Fighting Illini  college basketball team have to do with this?” The long overdue firing of the school’s college football coach Ron Zook.

Well, it's much easier to find pics of “Illini celebration” in hoops. (which says something about why the Zooker is being jettisoned. And, I needed an orange and blue celebration pic for a news like this.

“I assessed the entire program and felt that it was time for a change in leadership,” Illini A.D. Mike Thomas said. “It is imperative that our program shows some consistency and competes for championships, and I think a change in coaches can help us get there sooner. I wasn’t here seven years ago when Ron Zook took over as coach, but it’s clear the program is in better shape than what he inherited. I believe we need new leadership to take the program to the level to compete for championships on a consistent basis. This is an extremely competitive conference, and we are determined to go head-to-head with the very best.”

Zook was named head coach at Illinois in December, 2004, and compiled a record of 34-51, including 18-38 in Big Ten play during his Illini stint. After starting the 2011 season with six-consecutive victories and earning a Top 20 ranking, the Illini suffered through a six-game losing streak to end the regular season. In 2007, Illinois surprised many with a 9-4 record, including a 6-2 mark in Big Ten play to finish in second place. The Fighting Illini posted a memorable 28-21 victory over top-ranked Ohio State at Columbus that season to propel them into a Rose Bowl invitation. Following the 2007 season, Zook was named the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning takes over in the interim, and his press conferences will be fun! Since he is a great interview! More on the coordinators here, and more on why they kicked Zook to the curb here.

I think the song/video below encompasses what a lot of Illini Nation is thinking/feeling today

“can u feel a brand new day…everybody be glad cuz the sun is shining just for us…and thank you world, we always knew we’d be free somehow.”

Brand New Day from Nic Ruley on Vimeo.


Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.


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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington, NBC and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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