After swinging and missing on Shaka Smart, the University of Illinois has gone full throttle after Butler head coach Brad Stevens. Multiple sources confirm that there has been contact between Stevens and the University. There is confirmed interest on Illinois’ part, but no confirmed interest on Stevens’ part- yet.
So everyone settle down! I’m talking to you message board people.
Yes, negotiations between the two parties have begun, and there’s even tweets/rumors about private jets being flown from Champaign to Indianapolis, but no deal is close to being signed yet. So everyone chill out.
But we can look at why this deal would or would not make sense for Stevens and Illinois.
What Stevens brings to the table:
In five seasons leading Butler, he missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the 2011-12 season. During his tenure as head coach, he’s amassed a 179-139 record (.777. win-loss percentage) and earned AP rankings ranging from No. 16 to No. 8 with Butler.
In the 2009-2010 season, Stevens led his team to the third most wins in school history, leading the team to a 33-5 record en route to a National Final loss. Just a couple more inches on that Gordon Hayward half court shot, and David might have toppled Goliath. The very next year Stevens led Butler right back to the national championship game, upsetting high-majors along the way before losing ugly and badly to UConn in the most unwatchable NC game in history.
Still, Stevens is as hot a coaching commodity as there is. If Shaka Smart is 1A, than Stevens is 1B.
Why this could work:
Stevens can get some of that big paper, and long-term security package that Shaka turned down. The $20 some million for about 8 years or so, plus the promise to upgrade facilities, and the chance to jump from mid to high-major should excite Stevens. Also, this truly is about as high as Stevens’ stock is going to get. What are the odds he makes back-t0-back national title game runs again at Butler? Very little. Sell high!
Also, last year that Indiana Hoosiers job Stevens probably wants looked like it was going to open up soon. Not so much anymore. After Anthony Grant and Leonard Hamilton declined interest in the Illini program, it means they tried but failed to land their top three minority candidates. Now it’s more open to all candidates in the pool.
Why this won’t happen:
Stevens has a nice, long cushy deal at Butler, and Indianapolis is home to him. He’s declined big program offers already, and seems rather entrenched. If he shows interest in Illinois, I doubt it’s a leverage type of power play with Butler, because he has that situation settled already. Stevens isn’t the guy to navigate the muddy waters and utter corruption of recruiting the Chicago Public League- not by a long shot. So Thomas might have to concede that point. Or high Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy has an assistant. Dildy is probably looking for a way out of that gig, and he could do the dirty work for Stevens. and you could have the best of both worlds.
But that’s a whole ‘nother column entirely
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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