Illinois Snags Underwood from Okie State

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    I share this because I find it to be a truly fascinating hire in light of our struggles hiring coaches. Evidently, some schools have the stones and funds to go get the coach they want.

    Illinois has found its next coach, hiring Oklahoma State’s Brad Underwood after just one year with the Cowboys.

    A source told ESPN that Underwood agreed to a six-year deal worth more than $3 million per season. He earned a little more than $1 million per season at Oklahoma State and had four years remaining on his contract.

    Fighting Illini athletic director Josh Whitman welcomed Underwood to the program in a tweet Saturday afternoon.

    “In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois Basketball,” Whitman said in a statement. “Brad’s teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness.”

    The Cowboys hired Underwood a year ago, and he took the program to the NCAA tournament this season, losing to Michigan in the first round Friday. Previously, he had spent three seasons at Stephen F. Austin, with trips to the NCAA tournament all three years and two first-round wins.

    “Coaching basketball at the University of Illinois is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Underwood said in a statement. “The players, fans and administration at Oklahoma State have been absolutely incredible, and I want to thank them for the support they’ve given me and my family over the last year. However, during my time at Western Illinois, I always saw the Illinois coaching job as one of the truly best in the nation. I want to thank Josh Whitman for the opportunity to join the Fighting Illini family and look forward to working with him to build a championship program.”

    Underwood was as an assistant coach at Western Illinois for 11 seasons and spent one season as the associate head coach at both Kansas State and South Carolina before landing at Stephen F. Austin. The 53-year-old has a 109-27 record as a head coach.

    He returned to Stillwater with the Cowboys on Friday night following the loss to the Wolverines, an Oklahoma State official told ESPN’s Andy Katz. The official was stunned to learn via Twitter that Underwood was going to Illinois, saying there was no indication he was leaving Oklahoma State.

    Underwood finished second to Kansas’ Bill Self in Big 12 Coach of the Year voting.

    Self, whose first Power 5 head-coaching job was at Illinois, described the news of Underwood’s departure as a shock.

    “You see a lot of coaching changes across America, but very rarely do you see one after just one year,” Self said. “Granted, Brad is a really good guy and did a great job. But from the outside looking in, it looked to me like OSU and Brad fit very, very well.”


    More color on the Underwood poaching. Must read for any AD interested in keeping a hot coach.


    When I read about this move, it looked like OSU had low balled Underwood with $1M/yr and had drug their feet on reworking his deal this season so he went for the $$$$. They have rich alumni. No reason to go cheap.




    look at the guys they are looking at, Crean, Hurley, Wade, Manning, and several lesser know guys that would have created an uproar if been hired here. Keatts would have been at the top of OKS’s list had we not snagged him first.


    Keatts would have been at the top of OKS’s list had we not snagged him first.

    Maybe. I really have no idea. The point here is that Okie State got caught with their pants down. Pay an NCAA tourney caliber coach below market, drag your feet on an extension, and wham – see you later. I know this is a unique circumstance but people are taking notice.

    It would be interesting to compare who an Okie State would be able to hire with a month’s time to
    Make the hire. I really have no idea, either.


    So is Underwood a defensive guru?


    Underwood’s style is very similar to Keatts – up tempo, high octane offense.

    I wonder if we considered Underwood. Keatts probably is a better fit here given his deep recruiting ties in this region.


    Sounds like three things:
    1) OSU mishandled a valuable asset
    2) Illinois quickly and aggressively showed him the money. Good for them, but he may do the same to them.
    3) He was an up and comer at lower levels in Illinois. It is a good combo of hot name and the right region.


    Heck I’d leave my job for triple the money! Even if it only worked for a couple years….

    I’m not sure we had that kind of jack to throw around, then again if approached at the right time it may not have taken that much money to get him. Heard them talking about it on the NIT game last night.


    NC State low-balled a good coach once. He had just won a national championship. Wonder why he went to UF?

    It may not be about the money per se but you can’t eff with a man’s self-esteem by low-balling him.

    I hear Underwood is from Illinois. Probably had more to do with his leaving OSU than the money. If he had really wanted to stay, something could have been worked out IMO. You guys who keep talking about the cash may just be showing your own financial security levels.

    Debbie struck again before anybody could beat her to the punch. Too bad she’s at retirement age. Good job, girl.


    And that “low ball” brought Valvano to State. Not disagreeing with Grey but actions have reactions. As such the actions by some against V did put us on the track we have been on for decades. Maybe we are finally beginning to shovel our way out. I think Gott helped in that although he was not our Moses. There is no doubt the job is not a toxic as it was the last 2 coaching searches.


    There is no doubt the job is not a toxic as it was the last 2 coaching searches.

    I’ve been thinking about this but with little/no data haven’t reached any conclusions. Is the job less toxic or did State just aim lower this time? Either explanation works.

    If you want to know how State’s job is viewed, it would be interesting to see who contacted the search firm looking for a step up. That list would go a long way in answering how State’s job is viewed by mid-major coaches.


    I agree in general but I do think (totally from the outside) it is less toxic now. Time will tell if I am right or wrong.

    Maybe the difference between an engineer and a chemist 🙂


    There is no doubt the job is not a toxic as it was the last 2 coaching searches.

    I’m not convinced the job was ever as toxic as we sometimes think.

    Fowler just didn’t know what he was doing nor did he IMO have the Rolodex for the search nor did he have the search firm to do his hands off contacting. Either he didn’t have the where-with-all or wasn’t wise enough to know he needed one. Not spending the money was the most costly “savings” we’ve had at NC State. IOW if the job was toxic, Fowler wasn’t the screw up. If the job wasn’t toxic, Fowler was the screw up. I tend to think it was Fowler, not the job.

    In Debbie/Gottfried case, timing could have been the big cause of the hiring fiasco. I wanted to take Mary Sue to the Senior Prom but she already had a date when I asked her so I went to plan B. Betty Sue heard I had asked Mary Sue and declined to be second choice. And so on. Going to the Prom with me wasn’t toxic as I found out much too late to help but my timing sucked.

    It’s popular on this site and others for us to put ourselves down. I don’t believe it. We aren’t toxic and we are going to find this out in a few “long, drawn-out years”. It will seem like forever in basketball but I believe football is mid-turn right now. No facts to back that up but a sh!t-pot full of signs we are.


    I follow you in this but I think for whatever reason that job was toxic the last two times around. I think we are in a better place even if not fully healed. We have decades of misery to show the job became toxic – not impossible but toxic. Maybe we are digging out from that muck.

    Joe Cool

    ^I agree, I don’t think the school, athletic dept or the basketball program are toxic. The prior two searches were not handled well and the local media do not help, maybe this time there were some sympathizers, but few and far between, the national media is clueless unless it is Dook or the Cheats. The local media has sold out to the Dook Cheats rivalry and we could challenge that under the right circumstances, aka winning regularly, being ranked etc. The NC Media have been dying for a Michigan/OSU or Auburn/ALA rivalry and now have it. Anecdotal as it may be, Our local sports stations here in Greensboro/HP/W-S basically give us no air time when we win, but someone sneezes at DU or Chapstick Hill and boy oh boy we get 5 minutes of the sports broadcast reporting it….I hope Coach can turn this around……


    but I think for whatever reason that job was toxic the last two times around.

    Damn. Stretching the same conversation into so many threads makes it difficult to find the message you want to respond to if you wait a little while. Ending mini-rant and moving on….

    In an e-mail string, Jeff pointed out that you can track the toxic atmosphere back to some of the nonsense that came out of Fowler’s mouth. Hard conference, hard to compete against the blues, etc. Throw in the crap written by the Troll Trio (Parrish, Doyel, Goodman) and you get a lot of bad press. Since the average “journalist” is lazy, it becomes too easy to pick up someone else’s thoughts and rearrange/embellish them.

    There is also DY’s claim that Gary Williams actively worked to slander her. I don’t have any info one way or the other, but there is no reason to think that he would give DY a good reference.

    Did some realize that all of that was BS?…absolutely.
    Did the BS convince some that State was a toxic, career threatening job?….probably.
    Do some still have that opinion?…probably.
    How many?….no clue. But anyone that has a look at who contacted the search committee with interest in State and the specific responses from any coach that State contacted and those people should have a pretty good idea of what mid-major coaches think of State’s job.


    These articles imply that Keatts was indeed on Illinois’ list, as was Martin (supposedly a front runner), Marshall and A. Miller among others. Note that Underwood is not on either list, which leads me to believe that Underwood instigated the contact, especially since he’d only been with the Cowboys for 1 season.

    Illini coaching candidates

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