To say that things surrounding and involving the Illinois Fighting Illini basketball program are currently less than ideal would qualify as an egregious understatement. The team currently has a 10-10 record and is on the precipice of missing the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row for the first time in almost 40 years. This understandably has John Groce on the hot seat.
While it's too early to say Illinois will officially be hunting for a new coach this spring, that hasn't stopped people from suggesting candidates. We've seen quite a bit of "Illinois should hire Jerrance Howard" and "Illinois should get Dee Brown", two ideas with questionable logic behind them. But until this afternoon, I had not seen anything completely insane suggested this year.
And then Steve tweeted the following
probably don't hire Sergio McClain https://t.co/U8GsFY9FM2— Steve (@BigTwen) January 24, 2016
That link takes you to an interesting and sad article from this morning's News Gazette asking former Illini players and current mega donors what they think should be the main priority for the new athletic director (assuming we ever actually hire one). There's a good amount of "Illinois needs a former Illini", but I've already written about that. There are some legitimately good points and observations about the attitude surrounding Illini athletics right now and how that needs to be addressed. And there is of course a boneheaded and hamfisted "BRING BACK THE CHIEF" moment.
But the true piece de resistance comes about when Sergio McClain is asked his opinion.
Hahahahaha ... what? This might be the silliest thing I've ever read. It's easily worse than suggesting Howard of Brown. It's worse than offering up Deon Thomas or Robert Smith. I enjoy mocking the people who suggest John Holecek should be the next football coach as much as anyone, but at least they have his successful high school coaching career to lean on in their argument.
I don't know who should be the next head coach for Illinois basketball, but I know damn well it should not be Sergio McClain.
Sergio was quick to deflect any concerns people could bring up about his inexperience, but let's take a second to actually look at his experience. His first coaching job was just down the road at Parkland College during the 2008-09 season. His Cobras went 14-15 and he resigned after the season ended, stating that "Parkland wasn't the right situation." Fair enough. He then worked with a few semi-pro teams before joining his dad's staff at Champaign Central and becoming the new head coach their after his father passed away in 2014. His Maroons went 15-13 and he was replaced by Jeff Finke. Scroll back up and you can read his feelings about why that happened.
Sergio McClain has shown nothing resembling a resume worthy of landing a D-I head coaching job anywhere, much less at a Power 5 school, even one currently as down as Illinois is. He's been a head coach twice with nothing to show but excuses as to why it's not his fault things didn't work out at either location.
And then there's his ransom demands. The second and fourth paragraphs of his quote read like he's trying to be Hans Gruber or Dr. Evil. He holds the keys to the pipelines? It is his time whether we're ready or not? Pass on hiring him at our own peril? He is aware that this all makes him sound like a crazy person, right?
Sergio, your's and -- more accurately -- your father's names do carry considerable levels of respect in the Illinois high school and college basketball world. But being unable to accept any responsibility for past failures and threatening to somehow hold all in-state recruiting hostage (despite no longer actually being a coach anywhere) says something far different about your character and respect isn't the word anyone would use to describe it.