Flanked by his wife, daughters and several members of the Illinois basketball team, Bruce Weber said goodbye.

CHAMPAIGN -- Flanked by his wife, daughters and several members of the Illinois basketball team, Bruce Weber said goodbye.

Fired Friday morning, Weber spoke for 15 minutes in the Memorial Stadium football press box late this afternoon while reading from a script and fighting back tears after living the dream as a college coach in the Big Ten.

"I can tell you truly that my staff and I have given our heart and soul for this program,'' said Weber, who compiled a 210-101 record with the Illini. "It's been a tough day. I will always remember April 30, 2003. My first press conference when I proudly became the coach here

"I will also remember March 9, 2012. My last day here.''

And then he headed off to a local ice cream shop.

"Thank you for being a special part of our lives,'' Weber said.

Before heading out the door, he hugged a handful of players, consoled an emotional D.J. Richardson, said farewell to every manager by his first name and reminded everyone he was more like the guy next door living a dream rather than a million-dollar coach.

"I will always be rooting for them and want them to have success,'' Weber said of his Illini. "Most importantly, I want them to know I will always be there for the rest of our lives.''

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.