Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Wonk is traveling and will return Saturday
Meantime, enjoy some emails from the always-alert readers....

Weberian sociology and the high school graduate
Wonk received more than one email in response to a cbs.sportsline article by Gregg Doyel, which calls into question Bruce Weber's recruiting prowess....


You opened a can of worms by linking to a hatchet job on Weber's recruiting without commenting on it yourself.

First off, some of Doyel's "facts" are plain wrong (e.g., Weber and Illinois chose not to recruit Bobby Frasor).

Second, recruiting is more than just signing McDonald's All Americans. Ask Duke how much benefit they got last year from signing Shaun Livingston, who never intended to play college ball. Or ask Tubby Smith at Kentucky who was his best signee (Patrick Sparks, a transfer from Western Kentucky) or even Dan Monson who was his best signee (Vincent Grier from juco ball). Or you could even talk to Tom Izzo about how disappointing his current senior class has been.

Finally, give Weber credit for identifying and recruiting players such as Darren Brooks and Rolan Roberts to Southern Illinois. He took a down-in-the-dumps mid-major to perennial Top-25 status, with multiple conference titles and NCAA tourney bids. Do you think he did that with walk-ons? Neither do I.

Keep up the good work. And, in the future, please use some editorial license in your links. No need to perpetuate mainstream media urban myths like 'Weber can't recruit."

Hugh G.

Thanks, Hugh! And if Wonk truly "opened a can of worms," this blogger couldn't be happier--open worm cans mean more traffic! (Mmm, traffic.)

Latest update from longtime alert reader and die-hard Illini fan Jason
More on the article by Doyel! Peering fearlessly into the future, faithful emailer Jason anticipates a decorously phrased contrary position may perhaps be elucidated in serene dispassion by the historically shy and diffident posters on the Illiniboard ("IB")....


Today's hint: avoid the IB.

Doyel's article will cause a Chernobyl equivalent meltdown. Possibly Chernobyl combined with Three Mile Island level meltdown. We're talking about something large, noxious, and ill-humored.

As for myself, I won't throw Weber under the recruiting bus yet. In 2004, he got a late start due to his April hiring. In 2005, yes, he missed on Wright. It was painful, if only because it appeared the workings were in place to impress any recruit.

But now he does have the bonus of a number one ranking from nearly wire-to-wire and a team that should go very deep into March. The program should see a nice dividend for a few years from that success, and then we'll see how he recruits. There's the rub: if this season can beget good recruiting classes, than Weber's coaching ought to keep Illinois in the spotlight, which will beget good see where I'm going, right?

A successful coach doesn't need to be both a fantastic recruiter and a teacher. He can build an upper-echelon program by doing one very well and the other well. I believe Weber can do that.

And, as Illinois fans, haven't we generally held the feeling that Weber can coach very well, both in the practice gym and on game day? When Self was at UI, and especially after he left, he was often criticized for poor game-day coaching decisions and adjustments (Notre Dame's "It's Raining Treys" comes to mind). But he could recruit like mad and, building off the success Kruger re-established, he won games and raised the level of the program.

In the end, Doyel's argument is premature. Oddly, he alluded to that, but then ripped off his thesis anyway (he'd get booted from the academy for that, or at least told to rewrite the thesis fully cognizant of reality this time around). This is a part of Weber's ability that, frankly, I don't think can be determined until the 2007 class puts pen to paper. Then a body of evidence, built from various scenarios, can be dissected.

Here's to 29-0 and 15-0 and one sweet Sunday in Columbus,

Jason H.

Thanks, Jason!

A Jayhawk enlists in the Hoosiers' protest
Discussion continues of Wisconsin's 62-60 victory over Indiana Tuesday night and the bold experimental attitude that seemed to be adopted toward officiating in the latter stages of that game. IU fans have, for better or worse, singled out referee Ed Hightower for much of their displeasure. Here, a Kansas fan says: amen to that....


I just read the reader email you published mentioning that Ed Hightower has been involved with both of the games in which Indiana got jobbed by the officials.

That immediately struck a chord with me, a lifelong Kansas fan. One particular official has seemed to always be involved whenever Kansas gets the short end of the reffing stick: the immortal Ed Hightower.

The biggest call of the season in the eyes of most 'Hawk fans was the traveling call on Aaron Miles in the second OT of the loss to Texas Tech (the play on which Tech gave Miles a black eye while trying to foul in order to stop the clock).

At any rate, I just thought I would write in to let Indiana fans know that other people share their views.

David H.

Thanks, David!


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