Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Remember Me? Former Illini Assistant Collins on the Other Side Tonight

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Remember Me? Former Illini Assistant Collins on the Other Side Tonight

Article excerpt

For the record, Jimmy Collins would not sell his soul, give up his first-born, cut off his right arm or sprint naked down Michigan Avenue to win tonight's basketball game.

Beyond those limitations, though . . .

Collins let loose with a deep, hearty laugh when asked to consider how much he'd enjoy beating Illinois in his first game as coach at Illinois-Chicago, then said: "Would I really like to win this game? Well, I'd really like to win all our games." Collins acknowledges that he harbored expectations of making his head-coaching debut on the home team's sideline at Assembly Hall in Champaign. When Lou Henson retired after last season, Collins was a popular choice to replace him. Collins, who will turn 49 Monday, had spent 13 seasons as Henson's trusted aide. He was a recruiter par excellence, particularly effective in the talent-rich Chicago inner city, where he was revered. But after Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther chose Florida's Lon Kruger as Henson's successor, Collins concluded that he never was a serious candidate. "I was told that I was in the mix," he said this week. "I was led to believe that I had an opportunity. But because of some of the things that were said after the head coach was selected, after I read what the criteria were - a coach who had gone to the Final Four, a person with head-coaching experience, a person from the Midwest . . . "You look at all those things and then you start looking at your own resume, you realize that in actuality, you were never in it." Any bitterness suffered by Collins - who blurted at the time, "I know I should be head coach right now" - was the residue, by his estimation, of not being dealt with fairly. "I could have taken, `hey, you don't have the experience to do it' or `you're not exactly what we're looking for,' " said Collins, who testified that he believed "loyalty meant something. But I know now that (college basketball) is big business and that it means nothing. Loyalty is a one-way street." All of which Collins now considers part of the learning process in his profession. "That's all behind me," he said. …

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