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Illinois Fires Coach Ron Zook

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Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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updated 11/27/11 1:30pm

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Illinois coach Ron Zook was fired Sunday after the Illini followed a 6-0 start to this season with 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.

Zook finished 34-51 at Illinois. He took the 2007 team to the Rose Bowl and lost to USC. 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. He replaced Ron Turner.

The 2007 season was Zook’s high point at Illinois. The Illini were Big Ten runners-up and upset an undefeated Ohio State team in Columbus that was shooting for a perfect season and a national title.

But only two of Zook’s Illinois teams finished with winning records, 2007’s 9-4 squad and last year’s 7-6 Texas Bowl team.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

our earlier story:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)- A University of Illinois official tells The Associated Press that coach Ron Zook has been fired after seven seasons.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity Sunday because an official announcement was set for later in the day.

Ilinois opened this season 6-0 then finished it with six straight losses, including a 27-7 defeat at Minnesota on Saturday.

Zook is 34-51 at Illinois. He took the 2007 team to the Rose Bowl and lost to USC. Last season’s squad beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl.

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

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)

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