If ever there was an indication of just how cutthroat the world of college athletics has gotten, this weekend proved that at the University of Illinois.
After new athletic director Josh Whitman assumed the role he was hired for, he made the biggest decision possible — the fate of the football coach at a “Power 5” school. According to reports, Whitman has let former interim/permanent head coach Bill Cubit go.
To say this was a surprising move would be an understatement, as Cubit went from interim to a two-year deal as head coach this past season. However, Whitman clearly felt the program needed a clean break from the old Tim Beckman coaching staff.
“I appreciate the leadership that Bill Cubit provided our football program during what has been, unquestionably, a very tumultuous time. He accepted the challenge on an interim basis under incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances, and he has continued to work diligently for the betterment of our student-athletes. Through his efforts, he has kept the program moving forward. Bill is a good man and a good football coach. All of us in the Illini Nation owe him a debt of gratitude for his work leading our team these last months. At this juncture, however, I think it is most important that we position our program for long-term success by creating a more stable environment for the coaches, players, and prospective student-athletes.”
Cubit went 5-7 in his lone season in Champaign, but considering all that was against him, it was a minor miracle that he finished with that record for the Illini.
To say the timing is curious would be an understatement, but it is also apparent that Whitman has a clear idea of what he wants out of his head coaches and isn’t afraid to make the tough decision.
Still, as the Illini enter spring football, there is another sense of upheaval happening around this program. Clearly, this is an athletic department in full transition-mode under Whitman.