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Friday, November 05, 2010

Know Your Foe: Illinois 2010

Previous Illinois Know Your Foe posts from 2009, 2008, and 2007

Michigan hosts the Fighting Illini at high noon on Saturday. It will be the 9th game of the 2010 season for both teams. Both Michigan and Illinois come into the game with identical 5-3 records, but don't let that fool you. Anyone who watches college football will tell you these teams are headed in opposite directions. Michigan has lost their last 3 games and Illinois has won their last two games. Historically Michigan holds a 66-23-2 advantage over the these guys, but Illinois has won the last two games in convincing fashion. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN, with former UM QB Brian Griese serving as the color analyst.

History: Spawned by the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862, the school was founded in 1867. The school was originally called Illinois Industrial University and their first president dreamed of creating the "West Point for the working world.". Classes began in the spring of 1868 with two teachers and a small number of students. As with most land grant colleges of the time the actual mission of the university was a hotly debated item between those interested in providing a classic liberal arts education and those seeking a trade focused school. Eventually that battle was decided in favor of the holistic liberal arts curricula, and the school was renamed as the University of Illinois in 1885. In 1982 the name was again formally changed to The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, indicating the flagship status within the University of Illinois system.

Location: The University is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana (total population 180,000) in east-central Illinois. Situated about 140 miles south of Chicago, 125 miles west of Indianapolis, and 180 miles northeast of St. Louis. Overcoming the "middle of no where" location, the campus has been identified as one of 50 college or university 'works of art' by T.A. Gaines in his book The Campus as a Work of Art.

Illinois is one of the few educational institutions to own an airport. Willard Airport is an integral part of their Institue of Aviation and they also recieve and launch commercial flights from American Airlines.

Nickname/Mascot: They call themselves the Fighting Illini. Today the school claims to the NCAA the name is used to honor the Illinoisans who fought in World War I. That has not always been the case.

From 1926–2007 Illinois also used the Fighting Illini moniker in reference to the Native American Indians that used to live in the area and had a mascot named Chief Illiniwek. In the 1980s this sparked significant controversy, with critics calling it a racist stereotype and a symbol of the oppression to Native Americans. Supporters claimed that it was inoffensive and a source of pride and reverence. The University remains deeply divided on this issue.

Some interesting facts on this name and mascot issue. Chief Illiniwek is a fictional name and not based on an actual American Indian chief. Additionally, there was never an indian tribe that went by the name Illini. The actual term is a used to describe the group of six tribes (Kaskaskia, Peoria, Michigamea, Moingwena, Tamaroa and Cahokia) that lived in the area. These Indian tribes were removed by the US government to settle in Kansas in 1832, then in 1867 when the US wanted to open Kansas to white settlers, they were removed to Oklahoma.

The NCAA is inconsistent in their application of this particular flavor of political correctness. I don’t understand how schools like Florida State and North Dakota can keep their Native American nicknames and mascots with the approval of the specific tribe, but Illinois was unable to keep their “made up word” nickname. Who exactly was Illinois supposed to ask for permission?

Colors/Logo/Helmet: They wear orange and blue. Over the early years of the school they used many different combinations including silver+cardinal, blue+white, yellow+black, and the ever popular crimson+olive green. In 1894, the university officially adopted blue (for steadfastness and stability) and orange (for freedom) as their official colors. If you hadn't noticed, the NFL Chicago Bears employ the same combination. This is not a coincidence, Bears founder and long-time coach and owner George Halas is an Illinois alum.

For my money, Illinois has the worst looking helmet in the Big Ten. The slanted "Illinois" is something my 9 year old nephew could create in Microsoft Word. I guess I just don't like orange as a primary color. If they could just ignore what the NCAA says about the use of native american symbols, it could be so much better. --->

Fight Song: The official Illinois fight song is called Oskee Wow Wow. The song was written by two Illinois students (Howard Green and Harold Hill) in 1911 – but only after they decided the official school song (Illinois Loyalty) was not very good for getting the crowd fired up during a game.

It is the only fight song I know of that refers to specific people like Teddy Roosevelt and three guys named Roberts, Artie Hall and Heavy.

Old Princeton yells her tiger, Wisconsin her Varsity.
And they give the same old "Rah-rah-rah! at each university.
But the yell that always thrills me, and fills my heart with joy
is the good old Oskee-Wow-Wow that they yell at Illinois.

Oskee-Wow-Wow, Illinois! Our eyes are all on you.
Oskee-Wow-Wow, Illinois! Wave your orange and your blue (rah, rah!).
When the team trots out before you, every man stand up and yell.
Back the team to gain a victory. Oskee-Wow-Wow, Illinois!

(There is also a second verse, which is rarely sung)
Teddy Roosevelt may be famous, and his name you often hear.
But it's heroes on the football field each college man holds dear.
We think with pride of Roberts, Artie Hall and Heavy, too.
Oskee-Wow-Wow for the wearers of the Orange and the Blue!

Academics: Thanks to Tom Cruise, Illinois has a national pop culture reputation as a "safety school" for midwestern kids that can't get into to their first choice college. The reality is Illinois is a pretty good school. According to the most recent US News' ranking of America's Best National Universities, Illinois is ranked as the 47th best school in the country, tied with Penn State. That ranking is a big step backwards from the 39th spot the Fighting Illini sat in last year.

According to the USNWR, Illinois ranks as the 4th (or 5th) best school in the Big Ten Conference. Only Northwestern (#12), Michigan (#29) and Wisconsin (#45) rank higher.

Football: The Illini started playing football in 1890. Over the years, the team has won 15 Big Ten championships, the last coming in 2001. They have been to 15 bowl games and won 6 of them. Their last bowl win was the 1999 MicronPC Bowl. They have won or shared five football National Championships, two of them before they were called the Illini. Their last national football championship was in 1951.

From an individual star football player perspective, it is hard to present better names at the top of the list. The Fighting Illini program has produced three of the greatest football players in the history of the game: Red Grange, Ray Nitschke, and Dick Butkus. For those of you that watch the Big Ten Network, current analyst Howard Griffith also wore the orange and blue.

Like many B10 teams, Illinois plays in several annual "trophy games". My favorite is the ever important IlliBuck trophy game with Ohio State. The Illibuck is the second oldest trophy passed between Big Ten Football programs (yep, the Little Brown Jug is the oldest). Originally the "trophy" was a live turtle picked for its long life expectancy as a symbol of the long life of the rivalry. Since the original turtle died, there have been nine wooden replica Illibucks carved with the scores from games on its back.

Up until 1933, Illinois was always Ohio State's last game of the season. Ohio State has since replaced them on that last spot on their schedule with someone else.

They also play Purdue for the Purdue Cannon and Northwestern for the Land of Lincoln Trophy (which was originally called the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk).

Athletics: Illinois is a charter member of the Big Ten. The university offers a surprisingly low number of varsity sports. There are only 10 men’s and 11 women’s sports teams. To make things a little more odd, they actually classify cheerleading as both a men’s and women’s varsity sport. I really don't care, but my friend T9 is pretty adamant that cheerleading is not a sport.

The Fighting Illini claim they have won twenty-five National Championships dating back to 1900. Surprisingly they have only won two National Championships in any sport since 1958 — Men's Tennis in 2003 and Men's Gymnastics in 1989. No women’s team has ever won a national title.

Most people think of Illinois as a basketball school. They have won 17 Big Ten titles and been to five Final Fours. Sadly, their basketball success seems to always end in ruin as they hold the record for playing in the most NCAA tournament games without a winning a championship. Most will recall the 2005 Illinois basketball team that went undefeated until the last game of the regular season (where they lost to Ohio State) and then lost again in the NCAA Finals game to North Carolina. Also, not many Michigan fans can forget how the Illini lost in the 1989 Final Four Semis – after they had beaten us twice in the regular season.

Famous Alumni: Famous former Illinois athletes include NBA stars Derek Harper, Eddie Johnson, Nick Anderson and Kendall Gill. Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau. NFL top pick Jeff George and Pro Bowler Simeon Rice.

The list of non-athlete famous people that attended Illinois’ is pretty impressive. They claim to have 21 Nobel laureates and 20 Pulitzer Prize winners. Names you may recognize include Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, actor Gene Hackman, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Congressman and Presidential candidate John Anderson, Lincoln Memorial Architect Henry Bacon, Phoenix sports owner Jerry Colangelo, BET founder Robert Johnson, former GE Chairman Jack Welsh, and the creator of the Harlem Globetrotters Abe Saperstein.

It is safe to say that without this school our blog (all blogs for that matter) would not be possible: They produced the developer of the first graphical web browser Mosaic (Marc Andreessen) and the co-founders of YouTube (Jawed Karim & Steve Chen).

For those of you are keeping score… Illinois has zero presidents and five NASA astronauts.

The Game: After last week, I don't think our defense could stop the Ann Arbor Pioneer Junior Varsity offense.

At the start of the season, I had this game marked with a "W". Illinois was going to be bad and we were going to be better. Our last three games have caused me to rethink that prediction. Illinois has been improving all season long, they rolled Penn State in Happy Valley, and they have scored over 40 points in their last two games. This season, Illinois has 3 losses (Missouri, Ohio State, and Michigan State). All in all, they are not bad.

I have zero expectations. Nothing I have seen over the last month would lead me to believe we can beat a competent college football team.

Michigan 24
Illinois 49

On the bright side, I have already selected the healing pic.


Mikoyan said...

I think you all know my stance towards the whole Native American Mascot Issue. Coming from a school that used to have a cool mascot.....GRRRRRR.....Nevermind what the Hurons said...White folk know better and to me that's way more offensive.

Bigasshammm said...

Totally agree with the prediction. I may not even turn this game on.
I've got other reasons to get pissed off and drunk Saturday.

GoBlueBob said...

I really like the last photo with Illinois scoring and Gerg looking on in the background.

Mikoyan said...

I will be at the game although I'm feeling a little under the weather today hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow. I'll be on the opposite I was last time so I shouldn't have the glare in my pictures.

justthinking said...

I think we're going to bring the house on Saturday and let it all hang out. Roh goes back to DEnd and the corners and safeties are going to hold their own by getting baptised by fire. Time to become a D1 Player on Saturday, whether you are ready to be on that field or not. Hell, put Ezeh on the other DEnd and just let him contain that outside gap - he can at least tackle if you give him the right hole to fill every play. No reason to sit him if you can use him somewhere other than LB.

Instead of scoring in under 2 minutes when we have the ball, we should just pound the #$%^& out of the ball with Hopkins and eat the #$%^& out of the clock on long, methodical scoring drives. If we control the clock, we keep the D off the field and fresh for the few stops they will have to make. Nice short throws to compliment the running game and just walk down the field, moving the chains as we go.

Wish I was going to be there to yell and scream for the team. Gonna have to wait for WI in two weeks.

Still All In - Go Blue!

surrounded in columbus said...

"the dream is always the same..."

excellent KYF.

top notch