Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber said there was no real story after the Norman (Okla.) Transcript reported Oklahoma targeted Weber for its vacancy.
CHAMPAIGN -- Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber said there was no real story after the Norman (Okla.) Transcript reported Oklahoma targeted Weber for its vacancy.
While the Norman newspaper said Weber had emerged as a viable candidate and there was "mutal interest'' between the parties, Weber called reports from various media outlets "lots of rumors'' in a text to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"Received interest calls from a few schools the last couple weeks,'' Weber wrote in the text. "Other than that no real story or stories! Sorry!''
Over the last couple years, Weber handled several calls from schools showing interest. He said the Oklahoma call was nothing more than an interest call.
Oklahoma fired Jeff Capel after the season. Oklahoma had earlier coveted Marquette coach Buzz Williams, but he locked up a new contract there. Memphis coach Josh Pastner, UNLV's Lon Kruger and BYU's Dave Rose also are out of the picture, the Norman paper reported.
There are two things to consider concerning Weber and Oklahoma:
- While the Oklahoma job isn't considered a better one than Illinois, it might be a practicable option for Weber considering the uncertainty of Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther, whose contract expires on June 30. Without Guenther, Weber would not only answer to a new boss but perhaps also more heat to win.
Weber has a talented recruiting class coming to campus in June, and the prospects for the future look bright. Nevertheless, he might feel the need for a fresh start.
Illinois finished a disappointing season with a 20-14 record after getting its first NCAA tournament win since 2006.
- If Weber would leave, Guenther's status could make it difficult to land a respected coach. It would be hard to get someone interested in the job with a lame duck athletic director, if Guenther's run would be ending in June, unless Illinois president Michael Hogan takes over the hiring process.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.