One “t. dussault” dropped in a great comment from my post of a while ago “Not Sure if I want It”. It reads:
I attended Illinois in the late 60’s, graduating in 1971. Even started to play.
Its too easy to claim we play straight. That suggests the only way you find wins, is avoiding rules. Baloney. My university just never prioritized its football program. Hard as it is to believe, you can be successful and do it within the rules.
Illinois is bad because it never committed to excellence. What it needs to do is find a name coach who can induce athletes to matriculate. Someone who will immediately make people notice. John Gruden is probably perfect.
Beckman should NEVER have been hired. He has no appeal, is considered a clown, and was that prior to getting the job. It was another testimonial to the brilliant athletic department that hired the new A.D. Another sure fire star.
What is so sad, is that the Illinois endowment could be massive with our having the largest living alumni body in the world, and their contributing if they felt some pride. The program is a joke and the sparse 25,000 fans that go to Memorial Stadium are about the only few left who care. Very sad.
There is a lot of good in this comment, so I want to take it apart a bit and discuss. First, I scoured the Illinois rosters for the time period “t. dussault” mentions, and I didn’t see him. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t on the team, or that he isn’t using an internet handle, but I thought that should be out there. On to the meat of the comment.
T. Dussault takes me to task by saying that my main point was that we don’t win because we aren’t playing by the rules. I guess this is part true, but part not. If you don’t blatantly flaunt the rules, you will NEVER be a top tier program. But, there is no reason you can’t follow the rules and be successful. Look at Northwestern and Stanford. The key is that you have to define what, to you, is success. Northwestern knows that they will never be a Florida State or Auburn and they are comfortable with that. I would love for Illinois to have a good team and go to a bowl every year. I think that is not unreasonable. But we have to define what we want.
But, I give you Wisconsin. They are on the cusp of being one of the top 15 or 20 programs in the nation and are intentionally putting teams like LSU and Alabama on their schedule. How did this happen? I give you another part of t. dussault’s comment. A commitment to excellence. This all started with Barry Alvarez. And the whole damned state is supportive. Everyone is on the same page. There is no reason this cannot happen at Illinois. As t. dussault mentions, Illinois has a giant alum base all over the world (someone once said wherever you go, there are Illini) and even some modicum of success would be met with new donations and a likely resurgence of pride.
But t. dussault is also right in demanding a coaching change. I have said for a long time that Beckman is a clown, and he is. We have to start all over. Again. Probably a pretty good idea to get rid of the AD too. Whether starting over would be with a certified star like Gruden, or an assistant at a big program like Alverez was, it needs to happen. And we need to define success. Do we want thugs that are terrorizing citizens like Jameis Winston or do we want to do it Northwestern style, and get players who actually go to school and are productive people? With the latter style, we will only go so far. But I would be fine with that.