Oklahoma State fans know by now that Brad Underwood is an outstanding coach and he knows how to win over a fan base. He had Oklahoma State fans so sucked in and attached to him that some figuratively spoke of being ill over the one-year basketball coach's departure on Saturday.
The time table on how this all came apart is more know now. The Oklahoma's Berry Tramel, who we believe had Underwood's agent as a source, had a story that coincides very close to what sources with intimate knowledge of the negotiations with some slight twists to some of Holder's quotes. In a fair respect, we can say that both sides through out comments that cut, cut deep into each other. That happens in negotiations. That meeting that caused each side to bleed some was on Monday, March 13.
Today, Underwood was officially introduced to the media at the University of Illinois on Monday, March 20. He fired some zingers, somewhat under toned, but still zingers. The biggest came in his desire to work for an athletic director that he saw eye to eye with on aspirations for the basketball program.
"I’ve felt this is an elite program. As Josh and I visited, that resonated with me," Underwood said in his introductory news conference. "I dream big. It’s a cliché that, obviously, I didn’t come up with. But I do, I dream, and I dream bigger. Winning a national championship is something that can happen here, and I want to be a part of that, and I want to help lead this program to that. When your director of athletics has that same vision, that was important for me."
The time table that Illinois and Underwood present for how the departure materialized seems to fit with the Monday meeting that went poorly.
"Last Wednesday, for the first time, we picked up the phone and we called Brad’s representative and had a discussion with him, and we were thrilled to learn that the University of Illinois has long been a destination location for coach Underwood. …" said Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman. "I never had any direct conversations with Brad by text, by phone, in person until Saturday, and that was the first time that he and I ever had a chance to visit with each other, and needless to say, we hit it off."
“I have a policy that I don’t talk to anybody until our season’s over, and that’s in fairness to our players, the institution that I’m at," Underwood said when he was asked about it. "Never thought I would leave Oklahoma State. … (Bret Just, his agent,) mentions the University of Illinois and a couple other school had reached out and had been pursuing. For me, it was no decision (to come to Illinois). It was something that meant a great deal to me."
Here is the key statement from Underwood that was really hard to digest. especially when you think of the things he said in his time at Oklahoma State.
"My son, who will be making his transfer to the University of Illinois, Tyler. Tyler was a red-shirt freshman with us at Oklahoma State and will be making the transfer as well. …," Underwood explained. "My wife told my son he would always go to school here."
He did say something nice to, Underwood has some political correctness to him.
"I would be remiss if I did not thank a great group of people at Oklahoma State University," he said. "It’s a wonderful institution. I leave there with my head held high. They’re going to get a terrific basketball coach there. That program is going to continue to move forward, and I thoroughly enjoyed my year there and wish them nothing but continued success, which that program will continue to have."
Underwood finished his news conference with one of the best Freudian slips of the year so far. He was finished and he stood at the podium and said, "Go Illini" while giving the signal of pistols firing. That will live on the internet and around with Oklahoma State fans for sometime.