I feel bad for the University of Illinois in a way. They have a problem and as long as they admit it, the healing can begin. They yanked Tim Beckman away from Toledo to replace Ron Zook as Illinois coach. The gateway hire was Mike Thomas, their athletic director, who was overseeing the Cincinnati program at the time, but had previously been Akron's AD for five years.
Now it's being reported that possibly Illinois is looking at John Groce, the OHIO architect. This is my shocked face.
Dude, the guy's going to go somewhere. We know it won't be Nebraska (they hired someone) and the only other major upgrade jobs available are SMU, Mississippi State and South Carolina — and I'm not sure if any of them are fits. Marginal upgrades include Tulsa, UAB and Southern Illinois.
Previously UI was trying to pull Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens away from VCU and Butler respectively, but it doesn't seem like either of those gambits are happening. With two wins in the tournament Groce is suddenly a commodity, but this really shouldn't surprise anyone.
OHIO brings everyone back barring transfers, so Groce has a team intact for another run. And as a MAC man I'd be privy to say his better chance to win is right there in Athens. Perhaps as a fan of a specific MAC team that is not named OHIO, we're all okay with saying "No, go ahead and leave! We'll have a better chance of— I mean you'll have a great chance of winning a championship there!"
And I don't think many of us would be that displeased if Groce left. Because we're used to this. We just want to hear Illinois admit that they have a MACohol problem and they're going to seek help at the Geno Ford Clinic.