Illini decision to extend Bill Cubit is pragmatic, but uninspiring



“The French have a saying, it’s the fate of glass to break.”

That’s how M says goodbye to his MI6 cohorts upon telling them that the 00 program has been extinguished. Given the glass like fragility of University of Illinois athletics, perhaps the path of least resistance makes sense. It went official this morning- UI gave interim head football coach Bill Cubit a two year contract extension.

It’s a stable, pragmatic and understandable decision. It’s also underwhelming and uninspiring.

Don’t expect many fans to be excited about this either. Take a look at the results of My Twitter poll

Illinois interim athletic director Paul Kowalczyk spoke to the media after the announcement and before the kickoff of the Illini game versus Northwestern at Soldier Field. What he said only further conveyed that the Illinois Athletic Department seems to be phoning it in a little bit regarding their football program:

“It’s not ideal but for now, I don’t think it’ll put a dagger in the heart of the program.”

Wow. Talk about lowering the bar there by Kowalczyk. Still, this decision is actually above his pay grade. He’s only the public face on a situation that’s much more chaotic than we can imagine.

“You’re just a kite in a hurricane, Mr. Bond.” That’s what the Pale King tells James Bond in “Spectre,” and it adequately describes the Illini Athletic Department.


(related: pros and cons of retaining Bill Cubit part 1)

(related: pros and cons of retaining Bill Cubit part 2)

From both a business and logistical perspective, this decision isn’t the worst thing in the world. Hiring Beckman was actually the worst thing in the world. No wait, hiring Mike Thomas was actually the worst thing in the world.

Thomas and Beckman and were such awful decisions that the guy succeeding Beckman was bound to be a less than flashy hire. Probably likewise with Thomas. Illini fans need to get excited about the guy after the guy after Beckman. Sounds depressing to Illini fans, but it’s true. There are 13 open jobs in FBS this season; nine in the power five. So it’s a seller’s market for coaches this carousel.

In terms of the A.D. search, well, we saw a report earlier this week in which the University admitted that they hadn’t even started it, 16 days after they fired Mike Thomas.


So really if you’re that passive about your A.D. search, what would you expect with your coaching situation? The Bill Cubit hire isn’t all bad, considering. Like Teddy Roosevelt said “do what you can with what you have where you are.”

The players themselves wholeheartedly support it (and least publicly). Cubit is a man of the people and he has far better media and political skills than his predecessor; or John Groce for that matter. A lot of media people are in favor of this decision to retain Cubit because he is good to the media, and he does seem to be a genuinely nice guy. Let’s give him credit for being authentic and having people skills.

Unfortunately, Cubit’s actual ground game lags behind his political ground game. The rushing attack’s exciting explosion at Purdue was an aberrant anomaly. Illinois came into that game dead last in the Big Ten is rushing, and they averaged just 0.8 yards per carry versus Ohio State, “accumulating” just 20 yards. That’s not acceptable for someone who specializes in offense. Cubit’s 2014 offensive output was worse than 2013, his first season leading the Illini attack.


The biggest question of all is “can Bill Cubit sell his program to recruits despite his having just two years on his deal?” Well, it will be interesting to hear Cubit answer that, and we’ll have two years to see if the results back up the belief that he can.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and sometimes writes The Sports, which is partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. The website is also featured on News Now.

Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous television and radio talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram


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