Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Final Illini Football Blog?

I said last week would be it for the Chief after what had to be one of our worst defeats in football history at the hands of Ohio State on that cold and rainy fall afternoon in Columbus (30-0). No, I haven't forgotten. I just can't go out on a negative note.

To start out, the problem with Illinois football in its current state is a committment to winning; and I don't necessarily mean just by the coaching staff and players. Defend your house. Become bowl eligible. Win your conference, and compete for a national championship. At this level, competitive football is about executing the little things well on a consistent basis. Sure, that means running, tackling, catching, and getting into postion.

It also means a true committment to building a winning program by the President, Chancellor, Board of Directors, AD, and the general administration. While there are few Universities in this great nation equal to the academic excellence of the University of Illinois, I question the institution's committment to excelling in amateur athletics. When was the last time Illinois really lived up to its true potential much less closed the deal by securing a major national title? To cut to the chase, I find it utterly amazing as an alumnus that with all of the resources at our disposal (monetary, recruting hot-beds, and mind-power), we can't furnish a more competitive product year over year.

There's no reason why we're not ranked in the TOP-25 each and every year in both basketball and football, for example. But that shouldn't be our ideal state. No, major college athetics are about winning championships. To do that even every now and then, you have to construct programs by establishing milestones and meeting them regularly. When we fall short, an after-action review is in order to determine possible reasons why - not to punish, but to continuously improve by making the little changes over time that add up to victory, on and off the field. Instead, I see satisfaction with the status quo. A perilous position to take in today's highly competitive landscape where you're either moving forward or falling back.

As for the rest of this year, I know we still went to Pasadena in 2008 after losing two league games and one non-conference game in 2007, but losing like this in 2009 really pains me. Afterall, there was a time not too long ago (58 years ago plus or minus), when Illinois football meant something in the BIG-10 and on the national scene. Much in the same way dinosaurs once roamed the earth, the BIG-10 and the Illinois beat-up on the opposition regularly, especially from the PAC-10 (current self-proclaimed conference of champions). To go along with five national football titles (yes, I'm counting all of them pre-dating WWII), we have sixteen conference championships or co-championships (latest being 2007).

Sure, our bowl record isn't great (6-9 overall in fifteen appearances), but we own a winning record in the Grand-Daddy (3-2) with unforgettable Rose-Bowl victories over UCLA in 1946 (45-14), Stanford in 1951 (40-7), and Washington in 1963 (17-7). That 1951 squad was something special. Yes, there was a time when men were men, we drank our coffee black, only dated women, and Illinois football meant something. Oh, how I urn for a return to those glory days. Caution, video content at this link has been known to evoke a salty tear or two, with just a tint of orange & blue. Until next time, travel safely my friends (and foes), take care, and Oskee Wa Wa Illinois!

web site counters
ISP unique hits since Aug. 2k6

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?