Brad Underwood Introduced as Head Coach at Illinois

Illinois introduced Brad Underwood as its next head coach on Monday afternoon, and it felt like deja vu listening to him rave about the culture, tradition and expectations at his new gig in Champaign like he did a year ago in Stillwater.

Athletic director Josh Whitham introduced Underwood, while also offering some interesting insight behind the recruitment process of OSU’s former coach. Here’s some notes and quotes from the presser.

• Whitham says his first contact with Underwood took place on Saturday morning, although Whitham made contact with his agent on Wednesday (two days before OSU’s first round game against Michigan). “We were thrilled to learn that Illinois has long been a destination location for Coach Underwood,” Whitham said of his intial contact with Underwood’s agent on Wednesday.

• He added: “Needless to say, we hit it off,” when speaking on his first contact with Underwood himself on Saturday. Said he initially thought they would have no chance of pulling Underwood away from OSU.

• Tyler Underwood, Brad’s son (and walk-on at OSU) is transferring to Illinois to join his father.

• “This is a very special moment in my life,” said Underwood. “One that I was never sure would come to fruition.”

• “I would be remiss if I did not thank a great group of people at Oklahoma State. It’s a wonderful institution. I leave there with my head held high. They’re going to get a terrific basketball coach there. That program is going to continue to move forward, and I thoroughly enjoyed my year there and wish them nothing but continued success, which that program will continue to have.”

• Underwood reiterated that he “never thought” he would leave Oklahoma State. “For me, it was no decision. It was something that meant a great deal to me. I spent 10 years in this state.” Says that sometimes the unexpected happens.

• Throwing shade? Said Underwood: “When your director of athletics has the same vision (of winning a national championship), that was important to me.”

• “When this arena is full, it’s one of the best home courts ever … We’re going to work hard to be every day guys.”

• Underwood: “The tradition and culture of this program is why I stand here today.”

Here is the full press conference.


  • Clint

    Ok – kind of a jerk…
    Holder’s not off the hook by any means; but, kind of a jerk still…

    • Stepdaddy

      I don’t see why anyone thinks Underwood is a jerk. He was clear that he thought OSU could be a final four/ national champ caliber program again. When Holder indicated that he did not think that was possible. I think Underwood realized he was at the wrong program. I really feel like it was miscommunication on both sides. By referencing ISU, KSU and Texas Tech I think Holder was simply pointing out that until OSU starts winning consistently, OSU has budget limitations. OSU does not have the basketball budget of KU. I think Underwood was of the opinion invest now and reap the rewards later. I think underwood completely misunderstood Holder and Holder completely misunderstood how his comments would be received by Underwood. Bringing up Travis Ford was a huge mistake by Holder. Travis Ford should not have ever been mentioned. Holder did a great job finding Underwood. I hope he does a thorough search and does not just settle for Doug. He has been on a hiring streak. I hope he can bring in another good coach.

      • StillOriginal

        I agree completely. I’d like to add, if you don’t mind, Holder didn’t have the same vision of the future for the program as Underwood did.

  • OKsailor

    I don’t think tradition and culture had anything to do with it. Maybe when he first came to OSU but then he left tradition and culture for more money and less tradition.

    • Clint

      Maybe the tradition and culture of “Show me the money”!!!!

    • Stepdaddy

      I think the perception by Underwood that OSU was not committed to big-time college basketball had everything to do with it.

  • Matthew Haffner

    That shade of orange…. it’s just…. off

    • zombie willham

      Illinois – America’s brightest grapefruit.

  • Michael Mitchell

    Talk about recycled narrative. He can’t even come up with different lines. Word for word what he said about OSU. This guy doesn’t care about the tradition (which Illinois has very little) or culture, but about money.

    • Frank Carey

      Illinois is just a better Job!

  • swaggypaw

    It would’ve been awesome if they could’ve gotten Tom Cruise to sit next to Underwood during the press conference. Or Doug from “House Of Cards”.

  • Chris Saxon

    “Head held high”??? Odd he felt he needed to say that.

  • T-Bone

    This really ticks me. Underwood instilled a lot of confidence he could get the job done. I was actually surprised that he couldn’t get that first round win. He reminded me of a b-ball mastermind. Someone who can take the talent he has and coach them up and develop good game plans. Leaving like this just takes my breath away. It is a direct sucker punch in the gut when I wasn’t looking. I look at some of these great coaches in the tournament and was happy to say we now have one.

    This really hurts and I was hoping Juwaun would stay another year once he saw that. while he is a very good player, he is not at the level of some of the other point guards in the tourney. Another year with a good coach would position him nicely. Now what?

    • StillOriginal

      You think Holder was taking the players into consideration when all this transpired? I don’t.

  • Saucy Takes

    I genuinely believe he didnt want to leave, Ive been places I didnt want to leave, but when you report to a guy like that it takes a toll on you

    • DataAddict

      I genuinely WANT to believe you’re joking. What, you’re suggesting that Underwood was emotionally worn down by Holder?

      And THAT is why he left?

      Really?

    • Temo Ibarra

      At the end of the day, Holder is one of us. Imagine Holder giving Undies $3M, and then having a pissed off Gundy on his hands. Gundy has proved himself and has earned a bigger raise, Undies still needed to prove himself and expected the same. It’s like the Jenks football HC asking for Nick Saban money.

      Undies saw the $3M per year and bounced. “Cash rules everything around me”.

      Holder is one of us. Gundy is one of us. Smith is one of us. Holloway is one of us. Undies isn’t. Bring home one of ours that will walk the walk and not just talk it. Loyal and True

  • Jawbreaker

    Was his speech from last year still in his coat pocket? (Like when I go to a wedding or funeral and find the handout from the last funeral or wedding I was at in my suit coat pocket.)

  • Tyler

    You have just said “MONEY! MONEY! MONEY!”

  • David Einstein

    Phony with low character. Peace out.

  • Daflyonthewall

    Heh someone needs to make a youtube video of his speech here compared to his speech there, link it around on twitter and social media, give these people just an idea of what to expect from a guy who sells himself by recycling the same speeches word for word.