So we all female dogged and moaned over Northwestern's retention of Bill Carmody for an indefinite time. After a frustrating end to the season, people called for Carmody's head, and that bloodlust was not quenched as Northwestern decided to bring the coach back for a 13th season.
But the events transpiring amongst our good friends down in Champaign should make us realize that as unsavory as keeping Carmody might have seemed, the alternative might have been worse. After Illinois' season collapsed and the Illini missed out on the NCAA Tournament and NIT, the school, as you mighta heard, axed Bruce Weber. First, Illinois pursued Shaka Smart, who turned down the extra cash to stay at VCU. Illinois' second choice was Brad Stevens, who also chose to stay put at Butler rather than take a raise to go to Illinois. The Illini were also linked to Kansas State's Frank Martin, who yesterday chose to go to South Carolina instead. As of now, the Illini are reportedly chasing Ohio's John Groce, fresh off of winning two NCAA Tournament games and nearly knocking out UNC.
I'm not saying Illinois should have kept Bruce Weber. But firing a coach means you have to, you know, find another coach. And as Illinois is finding out, sometimes you end up getting a less-than-ideal replacement.
We'll never know for sure whether the rumor that Chris Collins from Duke would have taken Northwestern's head coaching job if given the chance. We'll also never know whether given the job, Collins would have been an improvement on the work of Bill Carmody. But in keeping Carmody, we have a known entity rather than going angling for potential new head coaching candidates. Sure, Northwestern could have caught a big fish in Collins, but there's just as good a chance we could have ended up with a discarded shoe caught on a hook. You laugh, but if Groce turns down Illinois, there's a distinct chance Coach Discarded Shoe on a Hook will be pacing the sidelines in Chambana.
Illinois fans seem pretty displeased right now. They were displeased by Weber, but now are going through the double whammy of peering at a potential coaching downgrade while having their program be deemed unattractive by lots of dudes holding clipboards. You may not love Carmody, but at least NU avoided some mess.