Mediocrity Pays For Illinois' Ron Zook

How is Ron Zook rewarded for turning in a 7-6 season and a Texas Bowl victory over Baylor…a $250,000.00 raise. Zook, who has been under the helm at Illinois since 2005 has compiled a paltry 28-45 overall record. In return, the University of Illinois wants to thank him by bumping his compensation package, upon board approval, in excess of $1.75 million dollars.

After a 3-9 campaign in 2009, the Illini nation was sure Zook would be replaced. Instead, the entire assistant coaching staff was fired and Zook brought in OC Paul Petrino and DC Vic Koenning to reform an anemic squad. Much to Zook’s delight, there was significant improvement in offence and defence from the 2009 to the 2010 teams. This turnaround certainly led to his salary adjustment.

Though Zook’s salary increase doesn’t put him in the same category as college football’s $5 million dollar men in Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas’ Mack Brown, it’s certainly enough to turn some sceptical heads. Despite a 16-32 conference record and finishing no better than 8th place in conference play in four out of six seasons, Illinois AD Ron Guenther clearly has confidence in beleagured coaches (see Bruce Weber) who can bring in top talent but just can’t translate it into significant wins. If Zook finishes with another sub-par season come 2011, there is no doubt the Illinois fans will be calling for his head.

This post originally appeared at TheMatadorSports.

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