Illinois's Bruce Weber Showing Howland a Graceful Exit from UCLA

In his post on Valentine's Day, gbruin showed how an AD is supposed to set the tone for his department. Illinois has had success in football and basketball, but nowhere near what UCLA has achieved. Yet here was Illinois AD Mike Thomas, responding to fans and calling for high standards, while Chianti Dan straps on a fanny pack for a tour of Italy.

Well, it seems that Mike Thomas is not the only one who gets it. After getting essentially a public vote of no-confidence from his AD, Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber knows that his days in Champaign-Urbana are numbered. Following a loss to Purdue, instead of regurgitating cliches and things that went wrong in the game, Weber essentially provided a synopsis of what has gone wrong in his program and the regrets he has over not dealing with certain things the way he should have.

His mea culpa, detailed by Jeff Eisenberg in Yahoo Sports, has some eerie resemblance to the woes in Westwood (emphasis mine):

Under fire from fans dissatisfied that the program has slipped from the top of the Big Ten to the middle of the pecking order, Weber said he erred by coaching to save his job the past three years rather trying to make players better for the future. In particular, he noted that he regretted keeping sophomore center Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup all year rather than disciplining him for lackluster effort and "horrible body language."

"The sad thing about the whole thing, and I guess it's my fault, is instead of creating toughness and developing a team, I coached not to lose all year," Weber said.

"Instead of developing people, I'm worried about winning. Maybe sit Meyers down three weeks ago or a month ago or two months ago. And Brandon (Paul). But that's my fault. You've got to develop a culture and I think the last three years all I did was worry about winning instead of developing a culture and a toughness. And that's my fault."

Sound familiar? It should...after the jump.

This isn't just Weber saying he should have played so and so more during a game, like Howland likes to do after nearly every game. This is a man who knows that he has not performed up to his program's standards and is taking responsibility for it, gracefully and without pointing fingers.

If you don't think this applies to UCLA, just think about how it would be if Ben Howland made this quote. It would look something like this:

Under fire from fans dissatisfied that the program has slipped from the top of the Pac Twelve to the middle of the pecking order, Howland said he erred by coaching to save his job the past three years rather trying to make players better for the future. In particular, he noted that he regretted keeping sophomore forward Reeves Nelson in the starting lineup all year rather than disciplining him for lackluster effort and "horrible body language."

"The sad thing about the whole thing, and I guess it's my fault, is instead of creating toughness and developing a team, I coached not to lose all year," Howland said.

"Instead of developing people, I'm worried about winning. Maybe sit Nelson down three months ago or a year ago. And Dragovic (Nicola). But that's my fault. You've got to develop a culture and I think the last three years all I did was worry about winning instead of developing a culture and a toughness. And that's my fault."

Obviously Howland never made that statement. But how scary is it that he easily could have? Something is rotten in South Centr...uh, Westwood. You would have to be blind to not notice when the storied basketball program in the country is floundering.

And for those of you who try to shift the blame onto the players, for not being in shape, for not having the talent, for not getting the system, I offer you once again, Bruce Weber:

"Sooner or later, (Illinois' players) have got to take accountability and do things that they practiced," Weber said. "It still comes down to myself and the staff. If they're not doing it, I guess we're not instructing them well enough."

Finally, if for nothing than for adding to the whole surreal feel of these statements, Jeff Eisenberg adds...

The last time any coach sounded as defeated Weber did by mid-February, it was Steve Lavin suffering through a dreadful 19-loss season in the final year of his tenure at UCLA.

I leave it to you to discuss. And remind you just for kicks that Ben Howland is 10-10 against U$C in his time at UCLA. Chew on that.

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