As I sit here and watch ESPN waiting to see the awesome highlights from yesterday's big game, 15 minutes go by and then it's 25 minutes, and college hoops are about done for this segment of SportsCenter. No Illini highlights at all. You can bet that if MSU or Wisconsin had won the title today they would have made SportsCenter.
The Illini basketball team won its first outright title since 1952 and not a peep from my favorite TV show. Why? Because Illini fans, Weber is not yet what you call a household name.
When they talk Big Ten hoops and they mention its coaches, you will hear about Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, Purdue's Gene Keady and sometimes Michigan's Tommy Amaker. A couple weeks ago I heard one ESPN analyst say if the Wolverines beat Michigan St. that night maybe Amaker should get coach of the year. You know why? It is because Amacker is a former Duke player and everyone knows who he is.
Illini fans, if you want your program to continue to keep up with the "big boys" Weber needs that coach of the year award. Then when they talk about the "best" coaches in the league his name has to appear.
Weber has done a great job with this group. Other media members can say the Big Ten is down so it doesn't matter who wins the title this year. Wrong. You never apologize for wins and this team deserves it.
This award will also let recruits know that here's a new guy that came in and broke all kinds of records his first year at Illinois and his team gets up and down the court. He's clearly made Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Heard, Nick Smith and Roger Powell better players.
Once Weber is selected for this award maybe he will no longer be considered the "guy who just so happened to fall into this job because no one else wanted it". When you watch College Hoops Tonight this week, you will never hear the Illini mentioned with "teams you don't want to play" in the NCAA Tournament. You can bet the team they play in the first round will tell you why the Illini are a dangerous team.
My last reason why this man needs this award is because I know how much time he's put into this team. Weber will never admit it, but in the back of his mind he knows he may have put the former coach's success to rest. There's no problem with me telling you how worried I was when the players had to encounter a new coach, but after what I have witnessed this season I know why Athletic Director Ron Guenther hired Weber.
Look at the new AP poll today, look where the Illini are ranked and then look where Wisconsin is ranked. Illinois is a team that won 10 games in a row and won the title. Now you tell me why that is?