Bruce Weber will begin search for next job soon
By MICHAEL MAROT
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Bruce Weber might not be out of work long.
Less than 24 hours after being fired at Illinois, Weber told The Associated Press on Saturday that interested schools had been contacting him for the past month and that he intends to take a short break before deciding what to do next.
He did not identify which schools had called though there has been speculation that he could return to Southern Illinois where he coached from 1998 to 2003.
"I want to coach. I love coaching and I love working with kids. We just have to see what situation comes up for us," Weber said. "For the last month I've had people feeling around. But there's not jobs open. There's a few. I have to take a breath right now and exhale a little bit and relax and help my wife and my daughters fight through this."
Weber came to Indianapolis on Saturday at the invitation of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, one of Weber's longtime friends.
He watched the Spartans defeat No. 14 Wisconsin 65-52 from the Spartans cheering section about 10 rows behind the Michigan State bench in the same venue where Izzo passionately defended his colleague and criticized Illinois officials for Friday's decision.
Weber said he appreciated Izzo's comments and was at peace with the announcement because he expected what was coming before Iowa beat Illinois 64-61 on Thursday.
"A little bit of relief from the whole thing. You knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time," Weber said. "I still wanted to coach our kids in the NIT, if we got that opportunity. That didn't come through. At the same time, I woke up this morning to reality that I don't have a job and you have to leave a place that you love. So that makes it tough."
Weber went 210-101 at Illinois, including the 37-win season and national runner-up finish he had in 2005 -- his second year in Champaign. Illinois lost to North Carolina in the title game that year.
But his record in conference play over the past six seasons was just 55-66. This year, after a 10-0 start, Illinois finished 17-15, losing 12 of its last 14 games, and some criticized him for not recruiting the best players out of Chicago.
Izzo told reporters Friday that Weber not only won but won the right way at a program where it's not easy to do.
"I appreciate that he had my back. I have a tendency to be too honest sometimes so I always have to be careful of what I say and he was my voice yesterday," Weber said. "He told me a couple of weeks ago, he said, `if I get a platform, I'm going to say some things,' so I kind of knew it. ... He was one of the first, after my family, he was one of the first people that I called and when he said that he had tears, he did, he cried on the phone with me. It was emotional, there's no doubt. I was happy that he won and that he had a chance to say some things."
The only hint Weber dropped about his future was that he'd like to stay in the Midwest and that he plans to keep coaching.
He's just not sure where or when all that will be determined.
"I'll get a job, I'll be fine," he said "It's just difficult to deal with some of this."
Updated March 10, 2012
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