Next Illini Head Coach: Houston’s Kevin Sumlin?

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Word is Illini Athletic Director Mike Thomas could introduce the new Illinois Head football coach any day now. He said he would move fast; and he seems to be doing it.

Most of what we’ve being hearing in the media involves guys saying they haven’t been contacted by the University of Illinois. That includes Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who seems very interested in the gig- and a perfect fit.

But Monken claims they haven’t been in touch. If the job is his, he would become the fifth OSU OC among the last 6 to later get a head job.

Monken’s Wheaton connections aside, he doesn’t look to be the guy. What about Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst? He’s always in the talks for open head coaching positions every year. But it doesn’t ever happen, and it doesn’t look like it will occur here either.

No, the guy, most sources say, is Houston’s Kevin Sumlin. Collapse in the C-USA Title game aside, he’s a very hot commodity, comparable to what Urban Meyer was considered in the world of college football the last time the Illini were looking for a head coach. That was 2004, when Illinois hired Ron Zook and Urban Meyer left Utah for Florida.

Sumlin is a great offensive mind, and quarterback Case Keenum is exhibit A- he’s broken every passing record known to man, in leading the UH Cougars to a fantastic season. Plus an offensive guru hire like Sumlin would go a long way towards keeping current Illini defensive coordinator and interim head coach Vic Koenning in Champaign. Vic has been extremely impressive with the defense during his two years with the Illini, and it would be a nice boost to retain him.

As for offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, he came in with a lot of luster, but the pathetic showing of the O in the final 6 games of 2011 means he might not be missed if he’s gone.

Also, a Sumlin hire means the first black coach in the program’s history. Actually, the hoops program has never had a minority leading the program either. The same is true at Purdue, where no minority has ever lead either revenue producing program. Everyone else in the Big Ten has broken this barrier- the Illini may finally follow suit this week.

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

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too

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