Wow. Just wow.
The New York Times has the mother of all articles on the Zooker and this year’s Illinois recruiting class. This puppy is nasty.
Start with a few choice quotes about the Illini’s success this year:
John L. Smith, who was recently dismissed as the head coach at Michigan State, expressed a view shared privately by many rival coaches and recruiters: “If they had a winning program and all of that, it would be a different deal. If they had the greatest facilities in the world, then maybe they could sell them. But what are they selling?”
He added, “Where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire.”
Tom Lemming, a longtime recruiting expert now with CSTV, said a recruiting class this good at a university like Illinois, with little recent tradition, was virtually unprecedented. “I’ve never seen anything like it in 28 years,” he said.
“If something is going on, they’ll get theirs,” said the Wisconsin assistant coach Randall McCray, who recruits in Chicago for the Badgers. “But if nothing is going on, it’s just jealous people that are getting beat in recruiting. I don’t know.”
“I don’t know”? Heh – I bet you’ve got a sneaking suspicion, my man.
And it’s good to know that the Zooker’s AD has his back:
In a telephone interview Monday, Guenther said the university hired an outside law firm to investigate anonymous tips and complaints about suspected recruiting improprieties, and to determine the source of rumors about the program. He said the investigation had cost the university thousands of dollars.
Guenther also said he and Illinois coaches were convinced that another university’s coaching staff had leaked unflattering personal information about recruits to a Web site. He would not name the Web site or the university, other than to say it was not a Big Ten program.
“I take this stuff so seriously,” he said. “I have an interest in the coach’s and the program’s reputation. It’s defamation of character, and it’s got to be challenged.”
Wonder who the mystery program is? I don’t know for sure, but perhaps Tom Lemming’s questioning quote might give a discerning fan a hint.
The article goes on to take a series of shots at the Zooker, and then, best of all, eight recruits are flat out asked if something dirty is going on at Illinois. At least there’s a denial:
None of the eight recruits interviewed for this article said they had been offered anything illegal by Illinois coaches or staff members.
And for those of you who have kids at Illinois in fraternities, don’t say you haven’t been warned when it goes down:
Kevin Johns, an assistant coach at Northwestern, said: “We’re recruiting two different types of character, two different types of kids. They can get in almost any kid that they want. We have to go through academic admissions.”
Make sure to read the article in its entirety. There’s more going on between the lines than is printed.