Bernstein: Weber To Oklahoma Would Make Sense

By Dan Bernstein

Yesterday’s whipsawing stories about Matt Painter were typical of this time of year, when coaching vacancies in college basketball are opening and closing, and candidates are forced to tell half-truths and damn lies, even if only trying to extort an extra dollar or two to stay put.

That appears to be what happened with the Purdue coach, who did little to quell mounting certainty – including one done-deal report from St. Louis – that he was bolting for the Missouri job. If it was a bluff the whole time, it sure worked.

Painter got his money bumped and, presumably, other demands met. He seemed to play it just right, and is still able to talk about his happiness at Purdue with some degree of apparent sincerity, to the extent that we can ever believe anything from anyone in this silly business.

As I write this, today’s story involves whether Bruce Weber is going to leave Illinois for Oklahoma.

“Received interest calls from a few schools the last couple weeks,” Weber texted the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “Other than that, no real story or stories! Sorry!”

OK! Fine! Exclamation point!

But that’s not “I’m not going anywhere – I’m staying at Illinois.”

Late last night, the Norman (OK) Transcript reported “mutual interest” between Weber and OU, and today’s early smattering of Twitter posts provides little further news. By afternoon, there should be some clarity, one way or the other.

It would be easy to look at this like we did Painter’s dalliance with Mizzou, but the situations are vastly different. Weber has grown less comfortable in Champaign after his eighth season, and AD Ron Guenther’s contract expires this summer.

The arrow of the program is pointing sideways at best, now, with middling conference success, regional recruiting a tougher battle than ever, and the future of star freshman Jereme Richmond in question after a season of bad behavior, bad grades and bad blood. Restless natives are sounding more willing with each passing day to help Weber look around, and observers with close ties to the program are floating trial balloons (both publicly and privately) about where he could go.

What’s important to keep in mind is that a jump to Oklahoma could be the 54-year-old Weber’s last chance at a big-money contract. Increasingly, schools are looking to energetic youngsters to revitalize programs — VCU’s Shaka Smart and Butler’s Brad Stevens will be next to cash in on the trend, either staying or fleeing.

The Sooners tried the wunderkind thing with Jeff Capel, and it’s over. Weber would be a clear departure from that, bringing the appearance of stability and experience, along with his six NCAA appearances while at Illinois.

He’d gain stability for himself, too. Without an extension in the works for Guenther, it looks like a new boss is coming, with his or her own ideas and preferences. It’s not getting any easier for him, on the court or in the office.

The grace periods afforded for major-program rebuilds are shorter than ever, but they still exist. The chance for one more lucrative challenge may be tempting.

Weber has never seemed to be the kind of slick, politicking coach always looking for the next big score. He’s no carpetbagger. It’s hard to envision him making such a bold move as is reported to be possible in the next day or two.

Still, no one could begrudge Weber for leaving for a new challenge at what could be just the right time for all involved.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    As Bruce Weber says, “Who cares?”

    • bronzo

      I ‘ll second that…”Who Effen Cares”

      Coaches can go wherever they want but if a scholarship athelete wants to transfer he sits out a year….Go figure

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        Just a wild guess here, but I bet Illinois fans care.

        I don’t know how the arrow for Illinois is “pointing sideways at best.” Next year Bruce will have his third consecutive top 15 recruiting class to work with ( the best potential talent he has had since the took over Self’s team.

        Wasn’t Dan the guy who said not to take a Basketball coaching job at a football powerhouse? I’m pretty sure OU fits that description.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Good analysis Mr. Pouty Pants (and let’s add to that bts’ points below).
        I think that inertia is a powerful force, and Bruce ain’t exactly Larry Brown.

      • Denver Deadite

        Who cares about Illinois fans? ;)

      • illinifan#1

        your hurtin illinois recruiting!!!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Perhaps someone can find the link, but there is a guy named FroDog who posts a blog at FireDustyBaker2 (now renamed Fire Jerry Angelo/Fire Jim Hendry) who was the guy who held up the “Larry Horse Wants A Title Shot” placard on Monday night……gotta give that guy huge props for that!!!!!

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Sorry, don’t know why you can’t just click on link above, but it’s short enough, type away…

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Whoops… Lemme try this….

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Thanks M U-L.

  • bigtime sucker

    actually bernstein, i live here, i think it’s the opposite, i think weber is too comfortable here, it’s champaign that is uncomfortable with weber, the school has done nothing but back him up and make him feel comfortable, because they can’t afford to give a new coach a big payday, they need to keep that coaches salary right where it is. they could probably monatarily do it, pay a coach, but it would be so imprudent at this moment to do so. The profs would walk out or strike or whatever, because they are being forced to take furlough days and to cut staff, and the school is crying poor at every turn so from a pr and staff morale issue, they ain’t paying big bucks for a sport

    • bronzo

      Yes BTS and Puty Pants I’m sure Illinois fans do care… but there just is not a real Illini buzz here in Chicago the day before opening day and with the Bulls and Hawks jockeying for playoff position.

      Ans yes i know the Final Four is this weekend.

      • bigtime sucker

        dude i didn’t write the article i just commented on it, and btw i never claimed to be an illini fan but when you live down here as i do, it’s hard to not be aware of the subject and to not be well versed on the subject is the equilivant of social suicide, as in, no networking, as in if i disclosed my real feelings that i am primarily a chicago pro sports fan, my customers would be turned off etc. etc. so knowing u of i sports is a survival technique, not a display of passion. not to mention, i have customers who are professors and employees at the school so i kinda have a perspective on their feelings as well, so it’s of value to the blog posting itself. i don’t post on u of i sports when they aren’t the topic and am well versed on bulls, cubs sox etc… so don’t pigeonhole me

  • bigtime sucker

    i said it tuesday so i will repeat it today, when boozer gets early touches and early opportunites, it pays off in the rest of the game. he was interested and involved the whole game last night. his production made d roses 23-10 come off as no sweat

  • Jack Swarbrick

    Very clever, with your Tournament of Bad Winner, very clever. Ha Ha.

    • Jim Tressell

      I once had a player killed

  • chitownduck

    ….soooo anyways opening day is today

  • LSDBlizzardDriver

    Is it talent with BruceAlmighty? Or is it development? The man can coach defense, but he can’t seem to get guys tenacious on the offensive end. Mike Davis should have been a beast, but he never developed the upper body or the mindset. So many outside shots this year. Looked like a YMCA game with everyone chucking it up. Live and die by the outside shot. The other small complaint is that BAM is the anti Zen master. Phil rolls out the ball and lets the game develop. BAM has instructions to shout on EVERY possession. Do they really need that micromanagement? All their close losses were when the offense was in the 50s. Call it Big Ten basketball if you must, but that’s some ugly offense.

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      Really? You’re comparing Bruce with Phil? If you watch other college games and even some pro teams, there are a lot of coaches that are always calling out instructions.

      I really think some of the physical player development issues are in the weight room. The two Mikes should have gained a lot more muscle mass over the last 4 years. I really hope they don’t waste Meyers Leonard’s potential the same way. He’s almost the same size as Tisdale but with a more aggressive post game where Tisdale wants to shoot jumpers and Leonard wants to dunk.

      Mental development is another story. I think this was just a group of seniors with fragile (must be Italian) minds. Bruce really coached up guys like Chester Frasier and Trent Mecham. Hopefully with the seniors leaving he will be able to do the same with a far more talented team.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    my predictions for the 2011 baseball season…

    AL East:
    1. Red Sox
    2. Yankees
    3. Rays
    4. Orioles
    5. Blue Jays

    AL Central:
    1. White Sox
    2. Twins
    3. Tigers
    4. Indians
    5. Royals

    AL West:
    1. Rangers
    2. Angels
    3. Athletics
    4. Mariners

    NL East:
    1. Phillies
    2. Braves
    3. Marlins
    4. Mets
    5. Nationals

    NL Central:
    1. Reds
    2. Brewers
    3. Cardinals
    4. Cubs
    5. Pirates
    6. Astros

    NL West:
    1. Giants
    2. Rockies
    3. Dodgers
    4. Padres
    5. Diamondbacks

    World Series:
    Red Sox Defeat Phillies In 6 Games

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      I like it for the most part… Phillies injuries are starting to worry me, but all that is going to do is allow some of the rest of the East to “hang in there” for a little longer than they should have. NL West is up for grabs in my opinion; hold me down and make me pick — I’ll give you Giants, but that’s gonna be a hulluva race. I’m not one to drink kool-aid, so let’s not paint that picture, but the lowly cubs could make more noise than most think. As with the NL West, AL Central is tough, but again, make me pick and ChiSox is the pick.

      Where are your wildcards Jon? Should come out of the East in the AL (surprise, surprise), let’s say the Bombers (I know, really going out on a limb there.) NL is very interesting, let’s go to the Centreal. Brewers or Cubs, one of them will take advantage of the lowly Pirates and Astros for what Bud will love, many teams in the playoff hunt well into September.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        for my wildcards, obviously, the yankees for the AL, and i think it’s gonna be the brewers for the NL

  • Larry Horse's water trough

    This is off subject, but I have to ask.

    Regarding the Tournament of Bad: How in the hell does Brett Favres wang lose to Hopping on Lake Shore Drive in the Middle of a Blizzard? How does Glenn Beck lose to Carol Moseley Braun? Did any of you people actually think this through?

    • chitownduck

      Yea, I am really surprised Brett Favre’s wang didn’t make to the Vile Four. My personal favorite was Antonio Cromartie’s birth control, but was in a very tough region.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      ‘hopping on lake shore drive in the middle of a blizzard’ is going to win the tournament.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        I’ve been on the LDS bandwagon since I saw it. My second favorite pick was CMB, too bad they came from the same region.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Also on the LSD bandwagon ;-)

    • Denver Deadite

      I said it at the beginning: from what I could recall, results were often rather Chicago-centric.

      Which is why things like Hopping and ND student safety do so well each year.

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      GB and CMB are both really, really stupid people, but CMB’s stupidity counts more since she was actually in a position to make policy.


    For those hoping to see Bruce Weber leave Champaign, even though Bernsy mentioned the possibility of a new Athletic Director at Illinois, it’s not happening anytime soon. Fans can cry foul about the inconsistent men’s basketball program since the Illini went to the National Championship game in 2005, but it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. If Weber were to leave, I’m not so sure they’d find a suitable replacement for a program that is the best of a lousy lot in this state.

    Now, Major League Baseball starts the 2011 regular season this afternoon with 6 games, and the White Sox & Cubs starting tomorrow, of course. Speaking of wishful thinking, I wish MLB “Commissioner” Allan H. Selig would use the brains God gave him and scheduled a handful of these games not in cold weather cities such as New York, Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, DC to name a few, but in warmer weather venues such as in Arizona, California, Texas & Florida. There could be one more bad winter storm that could pummel the East Coast this weekend. Winter is not over with just yet…

  • meesohawnee

    Bruce Weber would be best if he went back to Southern Illinois .. at least his honest down home act worked there. Hes not cut out of the corrupt sleazy big school mentality

  • Too Drinky

    Thanks Jon for letting me know what ESPN is predicting for the upcoming MLB season. Disappointed that Brett Favre’s Wang didn’t make it. It also sucked that AC’s birth control and Mel Gibson’s phone etiquette had to face off in the 1st round. That was a great matchup.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      ESPN is a joke. those are my predictions.


    It didn’t take Ozzie Guillen long to blow his top. Check out the following link and what a few of his White Sox players, including starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, noticed when they tried to workout at (Not So) Progressive Field in Cleveland this afternoon:,0,2540769.story?track=rss

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      I heard that Robbie Gould was up in a arms about the Sox having to play outdoors in March.


    I watched that St. Louis drubbing of Detroit last night.

    If Detroit wasn’t interested in winning, that sure reflected in their level of play.
    I’m hoping that that team is starting to age on the ice.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live