Illini Football Fever!

…Catch it, and feel good!  Who here remembers that marketing slogan from the 80s and the Mike White era?  I know Illini fans of a certain age couldn’t forget it if they tried.  After all, that period gave us the infamous logo we all continue to pine for, it gave us Illini Beer, it gave us NFL-caliber quarterbacks and a fearsome passing attack, and most improbably a good football team.  Yes, Illinois was a winning program that went to a string of bowl games – and that was before there were a hundred bowls.

Fast-forward to the present, and fans are more sanguine about the various weight-gains and lineup connotations of the basketball team.  Any buzz around the football team is subdued, reserved.  After all, we were all told the Orange & Blue would be good last year, with returning talent, etc., etc.  Yeah…  3-9.  Underachieving yet again. As a matter of record, if you take out the overachieving seasons of 2001 and 2007, the aughts have been the worst decade of Illini football since the 1930s.

So maybe we just need to adopt a simple goal:  achieve something.  Yes, do something other than disappoint.  Of course expectations differ greatly, but for Beemsville achieving something would mean about 5-7 and steady improvement as the season progresses.  Getting to .500 or above  and a bowl game would have to count as exceeding expectations.

The venerable one provides seeds of optimism, and he makes some good points.  After all, nearly everyone on defense is back.  Yeah, says I, but that defense really sucked last year and key tackle Josh Brent lost his eligibility and ended up being picked up in the supplemental draft by Dallas.  But Football Fever! says, we have a new coordinator who brings a new more aggressive approach and hopefully some tactical acumen, and we still have good athletes at key positions.  On offense, says I, we have freshmen as our #1 and #2 quarterbacks, and touchstones Juice Williams and Rejus Benn and the criminally underused Michael Hoo-man are gone.  Plus we’re instituting a new offense.  Illini Fever says, yeah, but Juice and his tunnel vision are gone, Scheelhaase has moxie and accuracy, and we return one of the better big running backs in the conference in Mikel Leshoure.  Plus we have Paul Petrino and his new huddle-up feed-the-studs offense!

So it doesn’t look as bleak as the end of the Ron Turner years – there’s still talent on the field, and AD Ronnie Guenther did all he could short of sacking the Zooker to bring about change in the program.  Petrino and Vic Koenning are two of the most expensive coordinators in the country – they have two years to help Zook right the ship, and they’re both highly regarded.  Unlike Zook’s initial staff, which always left me wondering (especially after watching The Journey on Big 10 Network) if they had a smart guy in the whole crew.  But if you look at the schedule, it’s hard to get to the winning record, even though Wisconsin and Iowa (the two programs we should be able to emulate) aren’t there this year.

Mizzou?  They’re down supposedly, but we can’ seem to beat them.  You think NIU and SIU won’t be fired up to play the Illini?  Then you have three in a row against Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State, which could derail the entire season.  The Big 10 is a tougher conference than ESPN would have you believe, and I just don’t see a single pencil-it-in W there.  Not the way we’ve played the last couple of years.  Then we close it out with the Northwestern game at Wrigley and a pit-trap of a trip to Fresno State.

But I hold out hope.  I’m a fan and I’ll be there for at least three games and otherwise watching on the tube.  I will get excited if we pull off an upset or start to look better than adverstised.  Just achieve something, Illini Football.  We’d all like a bit of the old fever.


One thought on “Illini Football Fever!

  1. While The Rube shares some of your setiment, there are a few things Mr. Beemsville either over-looked or left our on purpose to keep the quippy smart-assedness of the post alive. While I would agree for the most part that there aren’t any “pencil in W’s” on the schedule, there are several winnable games. Pick up your Orange Kool-Aid and follow me here.

    Missou is down this year, gone are their NFL caliber TE’s and WR’s. That mixed with our experience at DB and that position in particular supposedly our most atheltic there is hope there assuming our new QB can complete some mid range passes the first series or two to keep Missou from stuffing 8-9 men in the box, still though, L.

    SIU sucks, W.

    NIU, finished 2nd in the MAAC. They beat Purdue last year and have been to consecutive bowl games the last two years (something Illinois hasn’t done since Findlay won the state Championship in basketball~ PROPS!). Plus if there was ever a name for a coach or player NIU’s Coach KILL is it. That said their QB is a walking wounded who put off knee surgery last year and their best Defensive player elected not to play this year. Chalk this one up too, W!

    Only tOSU and PSU are “for sure losses” in the Big Ten.

    MSU is hit and miss just like us, although they have a good QB returning so we’ll chalk that up to an L.

    Next is where we make or break our Illini. The next 4 games shouldn’t be penciled in, but maybe we could use some chalk?

    Indiana is to football what Duke is to….well football, W!

    Purdue got beat by Northern and we’ll be hungery for a more than 1 game winning streak like we started the season with, plus its at home, W!

    We seem to do well in Whore central (Anne Arbor! ;^) and their coach may nt even be there by then, W!

    Minnesota’s coming next to Champaign, and their coach is a former Illini who really does want his Alma Mater to do well, he’ll throw the game to give the Illini ther first 4 game winning streak since Zooker got here (minus the now fluke looking 2007 capmaign).

    Then we get our butts handed to us by our brainy Northwestern buddy’s in the first college football game to take place in Wrigley field the worlds largest Beer Garden since 1938! Other notable things that happend in 1938, the Breathalizer was invented, called the “Drunkometer” in Indiana (figures), Leopold III visited the Netherlands and the 3 DiMaggio brothers played together for the first time. L!

    Finally the most despised game since next years Western Michigan Basketabll game, vs. Fresno State. Same as NIU’s coach….only spelled different its HILL instead of KILL (I can’t believe nobody in the KILL family ever thought to change that!) Last year if you’ll all remember we watched in Horror as a Fat 350 pound offensive lineman from Fresno caught a deflected pass attempt on a busted 2pt conversion try and rolled into the endzone. Barring that and the fact that their RB who had 173 yards agains us last year and led the nation in rushing is gone, we should roll here cementing our 7th win and a BOWL GAME!!!!!!

    ~Rube out!

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