New Illini Coach Impresses At Press Conference

Paola Ditto
Marzo 21, 2017

With some good reporting and a conversation with Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder, Tramel answers those questions. More than Walker, though, recruits should love playing for an offensive coach like Underwood, and it's fairly remarkable Josh Whitman was able to scoop him up. In his one year in Stillwater, Underwood improved the Cowboys from 98th to 23rd in the ratings, and earned an NCAA Tournament berth, which culminated in a one-point loss to MI. "I want to be a part of that and lead this program to that".

IL has its new coach: It's Brad Underwood from Oklahoma State.

Then, 362 days later, many in the Stillwater and OSU communities were left stunned that Underwood will never walk those steps with that title again.

Since Underwood has made the NCAA Tournament every year as head coach, the expectation is that he will be able to continue that at IL.

Underwood appeared to be the ideal fit.

OSU negotiated with Ford for a $3.9 million lump settlement, saving $600,000 in salary for the rest of that fiscal year.

Some in the basketball office already were questioning Holder's commitment to the sport, saying he wanted a Big 12 caliber program on a Missouri Valley Conference budget.

Whitman knew it. So he reached out to a man who viewed IL basketball in a light that had darkened to many in recent years.

"The we will win, that's what I'm about", Underwood said.

After making $1 million in his first year with OSU, Underwood will triple that salary at IL, signing a six-year deal for more than $3 million per year, according to ESPN.

"Coaching basketball at the University of IL is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity", Underwood said in a statement. "I was surprised. Perhaps I didn't have as good a relationship with him as I thought". His wife, Susan Underwood, pointed out that their family has lived longer in IL than anywhere else. He went to Columbia with Martin after serving on his bench for five seasons as an assistant at Kansas State, with his final season elevated to associate head coach.

Details of Underwood's contract were released on Monday.

Flash back to March 23, 2016, when Underwood was also in orange, but in Gallagher-Iba Arena: "We can't do this without you".

In his one season in the Big 12, Underwood experienced how hard it is to climb the ladder.

Will it be easier in the Big Ten Conference? And winning a national championship is something that can happen here.

Yes, the champagne has gone flat in Champaign over the last decade.

Last spring saw Oklahoma State basketball knock out its coaching search out of the park when they hired Brad Underwood from Stephen F. Austin. Before he took the mic, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Witman spoke about how they landed the snake now former Cowboys coach. It was Whitman making another aggressive move one year after bringing in Lovie Smith in a bid to turn around the moribund football program.

Underwood has had two head coaching stints in the junior college ranks, compiling a 70-24 record at Daytona Beach (2003-06) and a 62-60 mark at Dodge City (1988-92). I'll be disappointed any year we're not in the NCAA Tournament. While mercurial sophomore point guard Jawun Evans isn't moving with Underwood, the coach obviously preaches an un-tempo style that fans will enjoy until the victories start stacking up. A Kansas native, he said he enjoyed his run at Oklahoma State.

Whitman said he relied on colleagues such as IL alumni Jerry Colangelo and Mannie Jackson and Internet research to vet candidates.

Interim coach Jamall Walker has repeatedly said the Illini's success at this point of the season will be driven by the veteran players.

Click the video above for Gordon Voit's report from Underwood's press conference at the State Farm Center.

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