By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) “Everything’s fine here. All good. Great things are going on in the Illinois basketball program, we take all these serious allegations against our players seriously with great seriousness. John Groce is the coach, and he’s doing a fine job, even with a third of his roster under arrest and a dwindling number of wins each year.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Rain Tapers Saturday Night, But More Scattered Showers Sunday
Thursday’s public appearance by Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman alongside Groce was a failed attempt to shore up confidence in recruiting targets reluctant to commit to the Illini because they think that there could soon be a coaching change. That’s what Groce is hearing from them directly, and he told that to Whitman.
And the problem with all of it is that the recruits were correct to think that and still are, despite the effort to send a message of stability.
An increasing number of influential boosters and trustees want Groce gone, sources tell 670 The Score, as they’re fed up with the combination of bad basketball and embarrassing headlines. Whitman has quietly been pursuing alternatives but won’t fire Groce without a replacement committed and secured beforehand.READ MORE: At Least 16 People Shot, 1 Killed In Gun Violence In Chicago This Weekend
That explains the temporary damage control, trying to shore up what he can for one recruiting class.
It’s doomed to fail, because insiders understand that Groce is actually in the same precarious position now that he was before the two met the media. You can bet that rivals on the trail have already made sure that any players Groce is wooing are as aware of that as the rest of us.
If they choose to attend Illinois, the best bet is that they will have a different coach soon enough.MORE NEWS: At Bond Hearing For Man Authorities Say Was With Him, Prosecutors Say 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Had Gun In Hand When He Was Fatally Shot By Police