OK, Ron Zook didn’t come right out and say exactly that.
But, in a talk with the Chicago Sun-Times, the Illinois head coach blamed the negativity surrounding the football program — from fans to boosters to the media — for his school’s dismal showing last season.
(For the sake of argument, we’re assuming that, much like last year’s abysmal 3-9 mark, the Negative Nancy’s prancing around Champaign are to blame for the 5-7 season in 2008 as well.)
“Sometimes I think as a university and as a group of fans, we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Zook told the Sun-Times. “The negative recruiting, it all stems from us, from our own people. Rather than getting behind the program, they want to start lambasting it.
“The negative recruiting was the worst I’ve ever seen it this year. But a lot of that is our own people. There’s not enough people that believe this program can be where it can be. You’re changing attitudes. You’re changing beliefs. ‘There they go again. They can’t sustain it.’ When you go back and look at what’s happened the last 25 years, it’s going to take a tough son of a [gun] to get through that.”
Zook also went on to say that he instructs his players on the evils of the media and Internet, so presumably they’re encouraged to stay away from web pages such as THIS ONE.
You know you’re coaching seat is red hot when you have to assume the “la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” tack in handling critics.
Anyway, enjoy The Zookster Farewell Tour. It should be fun.