ALERT: How do coach openings affect Illini?

Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner discusses how changes at Southern Cal, South Carolina and Maryland affect the Illini coaching search -- and other college football experts weigh in

Tom Dienhart, senior writer

"I am not sure the openings at South Carolina and USC will impact what direction Illinois goes. They are jobs on different levels than the Illinois position. I think they will be competing for different types of head coaches. I think (Southern Cal) will want to make a big splash and hire a big name for a lot of money. Probably someone with no ties to the school. Carolina could go with a young candidate, I think. I also think the resources at those schools are more vast than Illinois.

"I do think the Illinois job is a good one. There is potential with a good recruiting base. And the place has academic heft. Plus, the Big Ten West is winnable most years. There are no 10,000-pound gorillas. The East is stacked with top programs, which makes winning big on a consistent basis at Maryland tough. But I do think Maryland is a sleeping giant of sorts. It has a great recruiting base and the bank roll of Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, who would like to make Maryland the 'Oregon of the East.'"

Brian Bennett, Big Ten reporter

"Anytime you have multiple openings, especially at major programs like USC (and the other USC), there’s always going to be a domino effect. That’s because those schools may hire coaches from other schools, who then need to replace their own coach. We saw it last year with Mike Riley leaving Oregon State for Nebraska, prompting Gary Andersen to leave Wisconsin for Oregon State and Paul Chryst leaving Pitt for Wisconsin. Once the dominoes start, it’s hard to predict how they might land. That’s one reason why getting an early jump on the process can sometimes be beneficial.

"Illinois and Maryland are interesting programs to compare. Illinois has more tradition. But Maryland may be a slightly better job simply because of location — there’s a big reason why the Big Ten wanted to get into the D.C/Baltimore/Virginia area, and that’s recruiting. Even though Randy Edsall didn’t do a whole lot as a coach, he was putting together a pretty good recruiting class this year from local prospects. It’s much harder to recruit at Illinois. Both teams still have to prove they’re more than basketball schools and that fans care about football. Maryland may also have an edge because of the Under Armour support, which some have said could make them the Oregon of the East. But they also play in a much, much tougher division that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the Big Ten championship game most years. There’s also a decent chance that Rutgers and Purdue both open up this year, which would leave several Big Ten programs potentially going after many of the same types of candidate."

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