The search for a new head coach is on in Manhattan, Kansas and the Wildcat faithful haven’t been bashful about who they would like to see at the podium next season.
Illinois coach Brad Underwood is a former K-State player and assistant coach and is who pretty much everyone in the state of Kansas, outside of those pesky Jayhawks, wants to be the next head coach at Kansas State.
The speculation for him being “the guy” has run wild after Bruce Weber was given the boot last week and the rumors started to swirl, so much so, that Underwood was asked how he handles the rumors with his Fighting Illini a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament and set to face Chattanooga.
“I don’t,” Underwood told reporters at a press conference. “One, I would never discuss anything professionally with you guys like that. But, man, I love Illinois. We’ve got the best fans, I’ve got a great boss, we’ve got a top 10 program and we’re winning Big Ten championships. I’m very singular, as you guys know. I can’t control what people say and what people think. I’m not worried about that.”
While he didn’t rule out a return to Manhattan, Underwood’s reunion with the Wildcats might be nothing more than a pipe dream. Underwood has guided the Illini to back-to-back regular-season Big Ten championships and is set to make $4.1 million next season. That makes him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in the country after a contract extension with Illinois to keep him in Champaign until 2027.
If Kansas State wants Underwood to be their guy, it will need to pay a hefty buyout of $7 million and find a way to compensate him the way that Illinois has. Either way, Underwood’s name will be tied to K-State until he comes out and says “no,” or until the Wildcats land with someone else.