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Weber’s outpouring earned him some sympathy from a fan base that’s been eagerly calling for his head, despite him taking the Illini to the national title game in 2005. Many have refused to give him credit for that, saying he led a roster that had been recruited by Self.

Athletic director Mike Thomas, who has already fired football coach Ron Zook in his first year on the job, was at the game but not at the press conference afterward. He was not taking calls Thursday as he traveled to Florida to meet with alumni, sports information director Kent Brown said.

“He just doesn’t feel like he can comment after every (loss),” Brown said.

Thomas has already said his standard isn’t just reaching the NCAA tournament, but getting a high seed and, as he put it in a recent radio interview, to “make some noise.”

The Illini has five regular-season games left _ including stops at Ohio State and Wisconsin and a home date with Michigan _ plus the conference tournament to undo the damage of seven losses in the eight games they’ve played since upsetting Ohio State on Jan. 10.

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Follow David Mercer on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DavidMercerAP