Illinois Football: Butch Jones and 3 Potential Replacements for Ron Zook

Ron Zook was recently fired by the University of Illinois after a very disappointing 6-6 season.

After an exciting 6-0 start, Illini fans had hopes of playing in the first Big Ten Championship game. But, after several putrid offensive efforts, the Illini lost the final six games for a meager 6-6 team.

Zook finished his seven-year Illinois career with a 34-50 record (18-37 in the Big Ten). And, more importantly, the Illini only made it to two bowl games (soon to be three) during the Zook era: a blowout loss to USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl and a blowout win in the 2010 Texas Bowl against Baylor.

A 27-7 loss at Minnesota in the final week of the regular season was the final straw for Zook, who was fired on Sunday. Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will take over as the interim head coach for whatever bowl game the Illini are selected to play in, but he’s not the long term answer as head coach.

So, who should athletic director Mike Thomas hire as the next Illinois head football coach? Let’s take a look at three potential candidates:

1. Butch Jones – Jones is currently the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats and doesn’t really have any ties to the University of Illinois. But, he does have a major tie to Thomas. Thomas was the athletic director who hired Jones at Cincy. Clearly, Thomas likes Jones. And, Jones’s Bearcats play a similar style to Illinois: they rely heavily on a good rushing attack and a good defense. Jones would be a good coach for current Illinois quarterback Nate Scheelhaase.

2. Paul Chryst – Chryst is all business. He doesn’t have a lot of charisma, but he knows how to coach. And, he’s the mind behind the current Wisconsin offense, an offensive scheme that works very well in the Big Ten. He’ll demand the most from his offense and won’t tolerate a performance like the Illini had the past six games.

3. Larry Fedora – Fedora is the current head coach at Southern Mississippi. He has the Golden Eagles at No. 24 in the most recent BCS rankings, an impressive feat considering his team has two losses and plays in Conference USA. By the end of bowl season, he’ll have led his team to bowl games in each of his four years as head coach. He gets the most of his small school players and would probably get the most of the superior athletes at Illinois as well.


2 Responses to Illinois Football: Butch Jones and 3 Potential Replacements for Ron Zook

  1. Murph says:

    zooky was fired on Sunday, not Monday. just trying to keep up the integrity of your blog…

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