The Illinois Fighting Illini fired seven-year head coach Ron Zook Sunday after an 0-6 conclusion to a promising 2011 season. The former Florida Gators coach went 34-50 in Champaign. In a brief message to media members after being fired, Zook thanked athletic department personnel before becoming emotional while thanking his players.
He declined to take any questions, out of respect for his now former players.
I want to thank coach Ron Guenther, former athletic director who gave us a chance and stood behind us during difficult times. To our current athletic director Mike Thomas and to president Hogan, I understand you have a job to do and that requires difficult decisions, and I respect that.
I think our program is very close, I really do. We just didn't quite finish a few games here and there, but I'm proud of how close we are.
Finally, I want to thank our players. They know how I feel about them. I think you all know how I feel about them. They've come here, they've worked so hard, they tried hard to do what we've asked of them. I have a great appreciation for our players and the relationships we've shared. This is a family, it truly is.
For more on the Fighting Illini, visit Illinois blog Hail to the Orange.