And anyway, Keady may yet go to the Final Four this season. With Illinois. After all, much of Weber's coaching philosophy with the Illini is WWKD: What Would Keady Do? "When we had problems here last year, I sat back and asked myself, How would he deal with it?" says Weber. "I've also learned from him what not to do, like don't talk back to hecklers."
"Yeah," says Keady with a sigh. "Sometimes I'll act like an ass and answer 'em back."
A former football player who was briefly a Pittsburgh Steeler, Keady--at 68--still looks as if he could snap you in half. More to the point, he looks as if he'd enjoy doing so. Strangers are often cowed upon meeting him, which reminds the coach of a story he likes to tell on the speaking circuit. And that is? "I'm not telling you," he says after a pause. "I'd have to charge you $20,000." After a still longer pause he says, "Actually I could tell you. But I'd have to kill you. And I really don't want to do that."
Of course, Keady isn't serious. Or is he? "He does have a sense of humor," says Weber. "It's just that when he tells a joke, people are afraid to laugh." ?
? For a collection of Steve Rushin's columns, go to si.com/writers.