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A final ride on the coaching carousel via ESPN

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Old May 15, 2012, 02:02 PM   #1
CharlesLawrence
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A final ride on the coaching carousel

Make no mistake: This coaching search was not pretty. Illinois AD Mike Thomas was dead set on VCUs Shaka Smart until Smart made clear the interest was far from mutual. Thomas, urged on by two board of trustees members concerned about the school's historic lack of an African-American head coach in either football or men's basketball, reached out to a handful of African-American candidates (Washington's Lorenzo Romar and Alabama's Anthony Grant, among others) who proved just as uninterested as Smart. When Thomas eventually abandoned that plan -- as well as a moon-shot hope of luring Butler coach Brad Stevens -- he snared Ohio coach John Groce, fresh off leading his 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats to the Sweet 16.

Some Illinois fans looked at the search and Groce's three-year record at Ohio (which included a 34-30 mark in the MAC) as proof their program wasn't nearly as sought after as they once believed. But despite the follies of the journey, the Illini arrived at an entirely acceptable destination. Groce hails from the well-respected Xavier and Ohio State coaching tree -- former OSU national player of the year Evan Turner tweeted his approval almost immediately -- and the Bobcats' key player in last season's Ohio run was D.J. Cooper, a Chicago native. If Groce can extend that familiarity with the tricky Chicago recruiting scene into something resembling a pipeline, Illinois will have no shortage of talent with which to establish itself as a yearly force in the Big Ten.

Last edited by Dan; May 15, 2012 at 02:18 PM. Reason: moved post to new thread
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Old May 15, 2012, 02:15 PM   #2
illinibob
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A final ride on the coaching carousel

Make no mistake: This coaching search was not pretty. Illinois AD Mike Thomas was dead set on VCUs Shaka Smart until Smart made clear the interest was far from mutual. Thomas, urged on by two board of trustees members concerned about the school's historic lack of an African-American head coach in either football or men's basketball, reached out to a handful of African-American candidates (Washington's Lorenzo Romar and Alabama's Anthony Grant, among others) who proved just as uninterested as Smart. When Thomas eventually abandoned that plan -- as well as a moon-shot hope of luring Butler coach Brad Stevens -- he snared Ohio coach John Groce, fresh off leading his 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats to the Sweet 16.

Some Illinois fans looked at the search and Groce's three-year record at Ohio (which included a 34-30 mark in the MAC) as proof their program wasn't nearly as sought after as they once believed. But despite the follies of the journey, the Illini arrived at an entirely acceptable destination. Groce hails from the well-respected Xavier and Ohio State coaching tree -- former OSU national player of the year Evan Turner tweeted his approval almost immediately -- and the Bobcats' key player in last season's Ohio run was D.J. Cooper, a Chicago native. If Groce can extend that familiarity with the tricky Chicago recruiting scene into something resembling a pipeline, Illinois will have no shortage of talent with which to establish itself as a yearly force in the Big Ten.
Who's the source for this I wonder? This is a regurgitation of the conventional unsourced Shannon Ryan/David Kaplan/Herb Gould narrative of course, but Thomas has denied that this is the way it went down, and the locals such as Klee, Tate, Supinie (not that they're oracles God knows, just saying) have never bought into this account. Love to know the whole story, but I'm skeptical that this is it.
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Old May 15, 2012, 02:25 PM   #3
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Who's the source for this I wonder? This is a regurgitation of the conventional unsourced Shannon Ryan/David Kaplan/Herb Gould narrative of course, but Thomas has denied that this is the way it went down, and the locals such as Klee, Tate, Supinie (not that they're oracles God knows, just saying) have never bought into this account. Love to know the whole story, but I'm skeptical that this is it.
If there was a political component to this because of the board members that objected initially, it may be a long time before we hear the full story.
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Old May 15, 2012, 02:28 PM   #4
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Who's the source for this I wonder? This is a regurgitation of the conventional unsourced Shannon Ryan/David Kaplan/Herb Gould narrative of course, but Thomas has denied that this is the way it went down, and the locals such as Klee, Tate, Supinie (not that they're oracles God knows, just saying) have never bought into this account. Love to know the whole story, but I'm skeptical that this is it.
I'm equally skeptical. The talk about Romar, frankly, always has struck me as lot of rubbish. If there was any reaching out to him, it was completely on the QT and nobody ever breathed a word of it. There was not the slightest question raised in the press out here, and no one seemed concerned that UW's popular, successful, highly respected, Pac-12 COY, was considering anything but how to fill the holes left by the departures of sure-fire NBA prospect Terrance Ross, and freshman phenom and probable first rounder, Tony Wroten.

At this point, the fabrications and guesses about the process mean nothing in light of the John Groce hiring. He has already shown to be well informed and strategically connected, savvy, considerate, positive, relational, his own man, and thankful for the opportunity. As noted, he is a branch from one of the most prolific, respected college coaching trees in the country, and a guy with solid, life-long Midwest roots.

Shaka would have been terrific, I think, and great eye candy. He was the sexy, current, high-voltage hire, and more power to him. I agree he's most impressive, and his early success is unmatched. We would have been very lucky to land him, but he almost certainly would have been just passing through. To me, John Groce is the better long-term hire, the more stable, and the more likely to be here for the long pull. I view that as a major positive, and I hope I'm right in that assessment.

As for the re-hash of trumped up and unsubstantiated claims about "what really went down", they are so much cannon fodder, and irrelevant, even if they contain some grains of truth.
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Old May 15, 2012, 03:34 PM   #5
james81
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Was race a topic of discussion--yes. Was it a factor in the hiring process--no.

Quote:
[UI Board of Trustees Chairman] Kennedy sent a lengthy email to Thomas on March 14, as the basketball search was getting under way. In the letter, he said any trustee who voted for or against a potential employee based simply on race or ethnicity would violate several laws and "their duty of loyalty to the university."

"I do not believe that the Trustees who voted against the [football] coach did so simply because of the coach's race or ethnicity," Kennedy wrote.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/edu...hs-hiring.html
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Old May 15, 2012, 03:53 PM   #6
illinibob
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I'm equally skeptical. The talk about Romar, frankly, always has struck me as lot of rubbish. If there was any reaching out to him, it was completely on the QT and nobody ever breathed a word of it. There was not the slightest question raised in the press out here, and no one seemed concerned that UW's popular, successful, highly respected, Pac-12 COY, was considering anything but how to fill the holes left by the departures of sure-fire NBA prospect Terrance Ross, and freshman phenom and probable first rounder, Tony Wroten.

At this point, the fabrications and guesses about the process mean nothing in light of the John Groce hiring. He has already shown to be well informed and strategically connected, savvy, considerate, positive, relational, his own man, and thankful for the opportunity. As noted, he is a branch from one of the most prolific, respected college coaching trees in the country, and a guy with solid, life-long Midwest roots.

Shaka would have been terrific, I think, and great eye candy. He was the sexy, current, high-voltage hire, and more power to him. I agree he's most impressive, and his early success is unmatched. We would have been very lucky to land him, but he almost certainly would have been just passing through. To me, John Groce is the better long-term hire, the more stable, and the more likely to be here for the long pull. I view that as a major positive, and I hope I'm right in that assessment.

As for the re-hash of trumped up and unsubstantiated claims about "what really went down", they are so much cannon fodder, and irrelevant, even if they contain some grains of truth.
I suppose it doesn't matter in the long run, it's just that seeing false and unflattering media narratives become accepted as true through mindless repetition by other reporters is one of my pet peeves, and this feels like another example of that.
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Old May 15, 2012, 07:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by CharlesLawrence View Post
A final ride on the coaching carousel

Make no mistake: This coaching search was not pretty. Illinois AD Mike Thomas was dead set on VCUs Shaka Smart until Smart made clear the interest was far from mutual. Thomas, urged on by two board of trustees members concerned about the school's historic lack of an African-American head coach in either football or men's basketball, reached out to a handful of African-American candidates (Washington's Lorenzo Romar and Alabama's Anthony Grant, among others) who proved just as uninterested as Smart. When Thomas eventually abandoned that plan -- as well as a moon-shot hope of luring Butler coach Brad Stevens -- he snared Ohio coach John Groce, fresh off leading his 13th-seeded Ohio Bobcats to the Sweet 16.

Some Illinois fans looked at the search and Groce's three-year record at Ohio (which included a 34-30 mark in the MAC) as proof their program wasn't nearly as sought after as they once believed. But despite the follies of the journey, the Illini arrived at an entirely acceptable destination. Groce hails from the well-respected Xavier and Ohio State coaching tree -- former OSU national player of the year Evan Turner tweeted his approval almost immediately -- and the Bobcats' key player in last season's Ohio run was D.J. Cooper, a Chicago native. If Groce can extend that familiarity with the tricky Chicago recruiting scene into something resembling a pipeline, Illinois will have no shortage of talent with which to establish itself as a yearly force in the Big Ten.
I am pretty certain that this is not how it went down exactly. But that is the way it seemed on the surface.

Regardless, I am happy with Groce and am willing to give him a few seasons to get his system installed. I can't wait to see the improvement (if any) from next years team, especially the 6 man freshman class from last year. The most improvement is typically made from year 1 to year 2.
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Old May 15, 2012, 08:22 PM   #8
256ILLINI
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It probably went down that way, but professionalism in sports journalism is dead now because of social media so now everybody has to rush to be the first to tweet something like a shopper on black friday.
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Old May 15, 2012, 08:28 PM   #9
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Wow. Not much truth or accuracy in that article. Delete.
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Old May 15, 2012, 08:50 PM   #10
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I'm not a sports journalist or anything, but isn't ISU's new coach named Dan? Or does he just prefer to be called Bill?
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by illinibob View Post
I suppose it doesn't matter in the long run, it's just that seeing false and unflattering media narratives become accepted as true through mindless repetition by other reporters is one of my pet peeves, and this feels like another example of that.
I share your perspective on that. Media reports get picked up and repeated and after awhile they assume an air of authenticity. It's even more prevalent now with the Internet. A story can sweep the globe a few times in the course of a day, and in a matter of weeks it can become "history", as if it actually happened. It's annoying, and it's also an abuse when "professional" journalists participate, passing off borrowed and unscreened material as if it's actually true.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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I share your perspective on that. Media reports get picked up and repeated and after awhile they assume an air of authenticity. It's even more prevalent now with the Internet. A story can sweep the globe a few times in the course of a day, and in a matter of weeks it can become "history", as if it actually happened. It's annoying, and it's also an abuse when "professional" journalists participate, passing off borrowed and unscreened material as if it's actually true.
By the same token, though, we won't ever know how it *actually* happened. This narrative, while not exactly complimentary to Illinois, seems at least somewhat plausible.
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Old May 16, 2012, 09:59 AM   #13
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I'm equally skeptical. The talk about Romar, frankly, always has struck me as lot of rubbish. If there was any reaching out to him, it was completely on the QT and nobody ever breathed a word of it. There was not the slightest question raised in the press out here, and no one seemed concerned that UW's popular, successful, highly respected, Pac-12 COY, was considering anything but how to fill the holes left by the departures of sure-fire NBA prospect Terrance Ross, and freshman phenom and probable first rounder, Tony Wroten.

At this point, the fabrications and guesses about the process mean nothing in light of the John Groce hiring. He has already shown to be well informed and strategically connected, savvy, considerate, positive, relational, his own man, and thankful for the opportunity. As noted, he is a branch from one of the most prolific, respected college coaching trees in the country, and a guy with solid, life-long Midwest roots.

Shaka would have been terrific, I think, and great eye candy. He was the sexy, current, high-voltage hire, and more power to him. I agree he's most impressive, and his early success is unmatched. We would have been very lucky to land him, but he almost certainly would have been just passing through. To me, John Groce is the better long-term hire, the more stable, and the more likely to be here for the long pull. I view that as a major positive, and I hope I'm right in that assessment.

As for the re-hash of trumped up and unsubstantiated claims about "what really went down", they are so much cannon fodder, and irrelevant, even if they contain some grains of truth.
I like/respect your posting in general, but you may want to wipe up your slobber after this one.
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Old May 16, 2012, 06:24 PM   #14
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Take Two: Best coaching hires?

Dana O'Neil: Illinois' John Groce

He wasn't the first choice. He might not have been the fifth choice (I frankly lost count) and maybe he still isn’t the popular choice.

That's fine. I still believe John Groce is the right and best choice for Illinois.

Here's the thing, Illinois fans: I hate to be harsh but your perception of the job and the reality of it are not exactly in the same city limits. Right now, Illinois is not an easy gig, so it would be a calculable -- and probably foolish -- risk for a Shaka Smart or a Brad Stevens to take the leap. I get that you have to ask. In fact, you, like every other BCS school, might be contractually obligated to at least float the offer by college basketball's two It men.

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebaske...coaching-hires
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:28 PM   #15
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I like/respect your posting in general, but you may want to wipe up your slobber after this one.
The bolded language is the perspective of Husky fans, which I would thought was obvious from the context. If you lived here, you'd know that. I should have clarified, but thought most would understand my point. He is immensely popular and well-liked here. He has the keys to the City. He wins awards. He is visible and active in the community. There was no negative talk about him after the team flamed out in the post-season tournament in the woeful Pac-12. There wasn't the slightest whisper he ever was approached by Illinois. I think it's a bunch of hoorah. I can't imagine he would have been remotely interested. Illinois is a difficult spot with a lot of pressure and unrealistic fan expectations. He has security and notoriety at UW and he's a West Coast guy.

Connect the dots.
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:40 PM   #16
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The bolded language is the perspective of Husky fans, which I would thought was obvious from the context. If you lived here, you'd know that. I should have clarified, but thought most would understand my point. He is immensely popular and well-liked here. He has the keys to the City. He wins awards. He is visible and active in the community. There was no negative talk about him after the team flamed out in the post-season tournament in the woeful Pac-12. There wasn't the slightest whisper he ever was approached by Illinois. I think it's a bunch of hoorah. I can't imagine he would have been remotely interested. Illinois is a difficult spot with a lot of pressure and unrealistic fan expectations. He has security and notoriety at UW and he's a West Coast guy.

Connect the dots.
OF, I know you and I have had our differences regarding BW. I'm curious though what you think of Romar's coaching acumen. It seems from someone who is far away from the situation that he consistently under-performs with the amount of talent he gets.
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Old May 17, 2012, 12:44 PM   #17
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OF, I know you and I have had our differences regarding BW. I'm curious though what you think of Romar's coaching acumen. It seems from someone who is far away from the situation that he consistently under-performs with the amount of talent he gets.
IMO it shows the difference in expectations for basketball at the two programs. Romar and Weber have had very similar overall results (accounting for UW playing in a much weaker conference) over the past 8-9 seasons, yet Weber was heavily criticized and eventually fired while Romar is apparently not even on the hot seat?
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Old May 17, 2012, 01:01 PM   #18
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IMO it shows the difference in expectations for basketball at the two programs. Romar and Weber have had very similar overall results (accounting for UW playing in a much weaker conference) over the past 8-9 seasons, yet Weber was heavily criticized and eventually fired while Romar is apparently not even on the hot seat?
BINGO!
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Old May 17, 2012, 01:38 PM   #19
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OF, I know you and I have had our differences regarding BW. I'm curious though what you think of Romar's coaching acumen. It seems from someone who is far away from the situation that he consistently under-performs with the amount of talent he gets.
I think highly of Romar the man, the husband, the father, the mentor. He's as genuine and devoted as they come. But I agree he's has underachieved at UW. He gets great talent, and his kids love him, but his teams seem to lack discipline to match and to temper the athleticism. This year he had two potential lottery picks on his roster but they couldn't beat anybody outside the Pace-12, and were embarrased in the conference tournament and missed the Dance. But nobody expressed dissatisfaction with him here. He's beloved and nearly an icon already. And, as noted, he's a fine person.
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Old May 17, 2012, 01:50 PM   #20
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IMO it shows the difference in expectations for basketball at the two programs. Romar and Weber have had very similar overall results (accounting for UW playing in a much weaker conference) over the past 8-9 seasons, yet Weber was heavily criticized and eventually fired while Romar is apparently not even on the hot seat?
Your comparison is over simplified and off target in many ways, but the final statement is true--Lo Romar's seat is not the least bit warm. Some of that is due to the innate quality and likability of the man. Also, when he came, the program was down and he built it back, the exact opposite of Weber's Illinois tenure.
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Old May 17, 2012, 01:57 PM   #21
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Your comparison is over simplified and off target in many ways, but the final statement is true--Lo Romar's seat is not the least bit warm. Some of that is due to the innate quality and likability of the man. Also, when he came, the program was down and he built it back, the exact opposite of Weber's Illinois tenure.
No, in fact they're actually extremely similar and the statement was not oversimplified. Bruce is also known as a good man who has ex-players that love him. (Another in Chester Frazier just followed him to K-State) He also has an eerily similar 9 year record.

The only difference is the UW fanbase is not nearly as passionate and demanding as ours.
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Old May 17, 2012, 02:22 PM   #22
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Your comparison is over simplified and off target in many ways, but the final statement is true--Lo Romar's seat is not the least bit warm. Some of that is due to the innate quality and likability of the man. Also, when he came, the program was down and he built it back, the exact opposite of Weber's Illinois tenure.
Yes, it is overly simplified, as you can't really make an accurate comparison of two coaches or programs. But I think my point is accurate regarding expectations, there's no way Romar wouldn't be under fire at a program with the history and fans we have at Illinois.
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Old May 17, 2012, 03:03 PM   #23
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No, in fact they're actually extremely similar and the statement was not oversimplified. Bruce is also known as a good man who has ex-players that love him. (Another in Chester Frazier just followed him to K-State) He also has an eerily similar 9 year record.

The only difference is the UW fanbase is not nearly as passionate and demanding as ours.
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Yes, it is overly simplified, as you can't really make an accurate comparison of two coaches or programs. But I think my point is accurate regarding expectations, there's no way Romar wouldn't be under fire at a program with the history and fans we have at Illinois.
I think the key word is history. We're not a blueblood, but particularly in the 80s and from 2000-2006 we have had a good enough history, especially reaching two NC games, that 9 years of largely underachieving would have led to LR's ouster as it did BW. Demanding fans weren't BW's undoing; his underachieving at UI did him in.
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Old May 17, 2012, 03:18 PM   #24
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Yes, it is overly simplified, as you can't really make an accurate comparison of two coaches or programs. But I think my point is accurate regarding expectations, there's no way Romar wouldn't be under fire at a program with the history and fans we have at Illinois.
Not necessarily. Reverse the sequence, let him come in inheriting a loser rather than a national title contender and build a sorry program to a strong one, and you have a different result. Illinois fans are smug about the "exepectations". UW is a storied program, also, and has substantial expectations. However, the University sits in the middle of a world class city and a major tourist destination, unlike the UI, which, in C-U, is basically the only show in town. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the UW fans and alums have better balance, not lower expectations. Expectations for football at UW, by comparison, are substantially higher than those at Illinois, in part because UW has a stronger history and more recent success, though the program is re-building now.

As some commentators have noted, Illini fans have an inflated sense of the program and its attractiveness than the rest of the world. Some of that is reflected in the unsubstantiated comments about lesser expectations at other schools. That's a very biased perspective, and, in this case, I would say, inaccurate. This from someone who spent the first 23 years of his life immersed in UI athletics, and has spent the last 34+ immersed in UW athletics, and has directly observed them both in depth.

But don't take my word for it. Speculate all you want . . .
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Old May 17, 2012, 03:27 PM   #25
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I think the key word is history. We're not a blueblood, but particularly in the 80s and from 2000-2006 we have had a good enough history, especially reaching two NC games, that 9 years of largely underachieving would have led to LR's ouster as it did BW. Demanding fans weren't BW's undoing; his underachieving at UI did him in.
Good points. In the years before BW arrived and in his first two seasons, we got a sustained taste of success and growth. The program seemed more "on the map" than perhaps ever in its history. As you say, two NC appearances in 16 years plus an Elite 8 that should have been another Final Four, and many strong teams in between, as well as high visibility, marquee players like Battle, Anderson, Gill, Williams, Dee, and Deron.

The program was poised, then fell back. You're right that this is what did BW in. The fans' expectations were part of it--fueled and informed (also inflamed) by success, then disappointed, repeatedly. Add to that various mistakes, oversights, and poor decisions, and the need for a change was apparent.

Conditions at UW were and are entirely different, but expectations are not so disparate. May I also say, had Romar been in Bruce's shoes, I do not for a second believe we'd be where we are today. I think's it's highly possible we would have landed Collins, Sheyer, Gordon, and possibly even Derrick Rose. When it comes to recruiting, Romar is the real deal, and it's not just a case of him having the Midas touch. He has the ability to communicate with and relate to recruits and their families in a way few others do, and that is what sets him apart.
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