Illinois fires Ron Zook after collapse

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Illinois coach Ron Zook was fired Sunday after the Illini followed a 6-0 start to this season with a six-game losing streak.

Coach Ron Zook was fired by Illinois after his team started 6-0 only to finish the regular season on a six-game losing streak.  ROBERT K. O'DANIELL/ 
THE NEWS-GAZETTE
ROBERT K. O'DANIELL/ THE NEWS-GAZETTE
Coach Ron Zook was fired by Illinois after his team started 6-0 only to finish the regular season on a six-game losing streak.

Zook and the Illini finished off their collapse with a 27-7 defeat at Minnesota on Saturday.

“I believe we need new leadership to take the program to the level to compete for championships on a consistent basis,” Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas said in a statement released by the university. “This is an extremely competitive conference, and we are determined to go head-to-head with the very best.”

Thomas said the defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will take over as interim head coach while a search begins for Zook’s successor.

“I think our program is very close; I really do,” Zook said. “We just didn’t finish a few games here and there.”

Zook, 57, finished 34-51 at Illinois. He took the 2007 team to the Rose Bowl and lost to Southern Cal. Last season’s squad beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl.

With six wins the Illini could still go to a bowl game. It would be their first back-to-back bowl appearances since 1991 and ’92.

Zook came to Illinois in 2005 after being fired in his third season at Florida.

ARIZONA STATE: Dennis Erickson is out as Sun Devils coach, a university official told The Associated Press, after another season in which the results didn’t meet the expectations.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity on Sunday because details of Erickson’s departure have not been finalized.

Erickson will meet with Athletic Director Lisa Love as early as today and, at 64, could be allowed to retire rather than be fired. Erickson could still coach in whatever bowl game the Sun Devils play in.

KANSAS: Fired coach Turner Gill after two losing seasons and with three years remaining on a contract that still owes him about $6 million.

The school announced the move in a news release Sunday, the day after the Jayhawks lost 24-10 to rival Missouri and finished the season 2-10.

Gill was 5-19 at Kansas. He was hired by Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger’s predecessor, Lew Perkins, and given a five-year, $10 million contract.

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM: Neil Callaway resigned as coach at UAB after failing to post a winning record in five seasons.

The Blazers finished 3-9 with a 38-35 loss to previously winless Florida Atlantic on Saturday. In Callaway’s five seasons as coach, the Blazers went 18-42.


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