Josh Whitman made right move on Cubit

By Kevin McCarthy

Illinois’ campus was hungover Saturday morning following the Unoffical St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

The football team has had allegations of player mistreatment hanging over its head since May.

The team’s future was foggy. Fans’ heads were pounding. At times, the Illini weren’t even worth getting out of bed to watch on Saturday mornings.

New Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman popped back a couple of feel-good pills and some red Gatorade in his first day of office — metaphorically, of course — and decided It’s time to end the hangover.

“The goal for us is a championship standard,” Whitman said in his presser on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. “Today, we took a big step in that direction.”

Josh Whitman made the right decision.

Before he could even get settled into his new office, he took the first step towards returning Illini football to prominence.

Former interim AD Paul Kowalczyk made the wrong decision when handing Cubit a two-year deal. It made no sense at the time and it looks even sillier now.

Anyone with half a brain can recognize the difficulties a two-year contract poses in the recruiting process. The University should have waited to hire its athletic director — leaving Cubit as the interim — and let him or her make the choice.  

Now, the University has to buy out Cubit’s contract. That’s a heck of a lot more expensive than buying their time would have been.

The University has to pay him $985,000 to not coach. Tack on the extra $361,000 owed his son, Ryan, who was released as the team’s offensive coordinator. That’s a lot of dough. 

This program was in desperate need of stability. It has provided nothing to its fans except a perpetual, pounding headache for the last 11 months.

The program took one step closer to stability on Saturday morning.

Fans need to take a look at the big picture. Recruiting would have suffered for two straight years under Cubit. He wouldn’t have been able to cast a vision for the program because he couldn’t even promise he’d be there to lead the troops.

Not to mention, having Bill Cubit at the helm left former head football coach Tim Beckman’s fingerprints on the program. Cubit was brought in by Beckman as the offensive coordinator. He was there when the alleged mistreatment happened — though he was cleared of all wrongdoing.

Whitman downplayed this at the presser — but, I’d urge you not to overlook it. If Illinois wants to turn the page on a new chapter, they needed to leave anything to do with Beckman in the rearview mirror.

“This was the last move that we expect to pose this kind of short-term challenge,” Whitman said. “Our hope is that by doing this, and doing it now, we’re able to put all of those things behind us and really start to gain momentum moving forward.”

Cubit had to go.

Whitman wasn’t able to release any potential coaching candidates’ names for obvious reasons. But, it would be foolish to believe that he doesn’t have something up his sleeve. He has someone in mind.

He mentioned, on a number of occasions, that he plans to move as fast as the process will let him to get this done.

He most definitely has a pretty good idea. He must have a short list.

In his introductory press conference two weeks ago, Whitman said, “We will win.”

This gets him closer to that goal. Give him some time.

The headache is almost over.

Kevin is a sophomore in Media.

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@KevOMcCarthy