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Friday, October 12, 2012

Know Your Foe: Illinois 2012

After thoroughly bitch slapping Purdue, Danny Hope and his mustache, Michigan welcomes Illinois to The Big House this weekend for homecoming.  The Wolverines hold a 68-23-2 advantage in the series, including last season's 31-14 victory.  The Fighting Illini are 2-4 with the two wins coming against Western Michigan and something called Charleston Southern (which we assume is a school and not a character in a Tennessee Williams play).  But of course you knew that.  What you didn't know you'll find below in the oft-copied but never duplicated MZone original...Know Your Foe.

Not sure if this is the seal...
or something from a notary public
History: Founded in 1867, the school was originally called Illinois Industrial University with half the people even way back then probably mispronouncing it as IlliNOISE Industrial University.  The school's first president was obviously injured in a farming accident as he dreamed of creating the "West Point for the working world" but instead wound up with "A place that would hire Ron Zook."  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 (with many people still mispronouncing it). 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 and additional verbiage that nobody really pays attention to.

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, 180 miles northeast of St. Louis, but only 4 blocks away from the Middle of Nowhere.

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.  Best of all, the airport quickly helps folks get the hell out of Urbana-Champaign as soon as they graduate.

Nickname/Mascot: They call themselves the Fighting Illini. Today the school claims to the NCAA the name is used to honor the Illinoisans ( <-- real word) 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.

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 just as, based on their play on the field this season, there is not a football team with that name either. 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.

Whether Chief Illiniwek was a mascot of the university is a matter of semantics. Most fans considered him such, but the university never officially called the Chief a mascot, instead using the term "symbol," claiming that a mascot hangs with the cheerleaders and cheers from the sideline, things the Chief never did. Regardless, the university started to get some appeals to remove the Chief in 1989. Those were rebuffed due to the passion of alumni. But when the NCAA deemed the mascot/symbol to be “hostile and abusive” in 2005, the Chief’s fate was sealed. After all, the designation was going to cost the university money. So despite some appeals, the university agreed to remove the Chief at university functions. His final performance was at a basketball game on February 21, 2007 before a tearful crowd at the Assembly Hall.

"I know - let's just write the name...then underline it!"
"Duuuude!  Nailed it!"
Colors/Logo/Helmet: Orange and Blue. For the first 25 years of its existence, the University of Illinois changed colors more often than they do head football coaches these days. They originally used silver and cardinal. Then in 1891, blue and white. In 1892, yellow and black were used, while in 1893, Dartmouth green was used in an event by the Athletic Association. They had also previously used black and yellow, crimson and olive green, while the Alumni Association had used old gold and black or orange and black. Finally, with company coming over for the dedication of the Engineering Hall building 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, long-time coach and owner, George Halas, is an Illinois alum.

For KYF's money, Illinois has the worst looking helmet in the Big Ten. The slanted "Illinois" is something my 9 year old nephew could create on an iPad...that he was using for 5 minutes while visiting the Apple store.

Fight Song: The official Illinois fight song is called Oskee Wow Wow, and no, it's not by Ke$ha. 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 a tradition which the team has continued for most of its existence.

It is the only fight song KYF knows 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 46th best school in the country (down from 45), tied with fellow B1G school Penn State as well as Texas, Washington and Yeshiva University (which, as you read this, is probably getting an invite to the Big East or being placed on Notre Dame's schedule to replace Michigan).

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 last season when 6-6 Illinois beat 6-7 UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, possibly the worst excuse for a bowl game in the history of bowl games. 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.  They are a charter member of the Big Ten, yet don't really seem to have any rivalries.  They're like that kid your mom used to make you play with because he lived down the street, but you weren't really buddies.

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.

Yes, this is a trophy game, damnit!  Got Turtle?
Like many B10 teams, Illinois plays in several annual "trophy games," none of which matter.  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 (no, seriously, there's a trophy game between OSU and UIUC). Since the original turtle died, there have been nine wooden replica Illibucks carved with the scores from games on its back (I swear to God, we're not f*cking with you on this).

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 and should now be called the Shit, Is This The Only Game On? Trophy).

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 which, if you've seen them play this year, you can understand.

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.

Like we were going to go with Larry Ellison's picture
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 actor Gene Hackman, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Congressman, 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.  ‘60s comedian, singer and satirist Allan Sherman was kicked out of U of I for being in a female dorm past curfew.

And all readers of this blog are indebted to several Illinois alums who made/make the MZone possible. This list includes Marc Andreessen, the creator of Mosaic (the first graphical Web browser) and Netscape; Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube; and Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine.

For those of you are keeping score: Illinois has had one alum, John Anderson, lose a presidential election but, alas, no U.S. Presidents...and no astronauts.

The Game: If I were a coach, I'd have to talk about how tough each game is and give the familiar speech about not looking past any opponent.  Thankfully I'm not a coach so... Illinois blows.  Sure, I could be polite but facts are facts: Michigan should crush this team.  Correction: the Michigan team that showed up against Purdue should crush this team (the one that appeared in South Bend, well...).  Maybe I'm being too optimistic after one very solid performance.  Yet it still shouldn't matter.  Michigan rolls:

Michigan - 41
Illinois - 14


616goblue said...

The only place on the interwebs can you get an anology like this dropped on you, "They are a charter member of the Big Ten, yet don't really seem to have any rivalries. They're like that kid your mom used to make you play with because he lived down the street, but you weren't really buddies."

The best part of waking up on a football Friday is Know Your Foe.


Yost said...

Thanks, 616. It's comments like yours that keep us going.

Mike Cornelia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bigasshammm said...

Your wallet and bank account should be saying take the scholarships! There's plenty of really good football in D2. Especially in the Ohio, Michigan, PA area. This staff doesn't seem to keen on walk on try-outs like RR used to be. We may never see someone like Kovacs ever again.

Yost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yost said...

He's bogus, BAH. I clicked on "his" name. Mike, if you're not, repost w/out the hyperlink to the college.

surrounded in columbus said...

What's the world coming to when you can't believe the posts of faceless internet commenters? Sigh.

Great KYF anyway.

Yost said...

Thanks, SiC.

Dennis said...

Nicely done, as usual. I haven't been able to get my comments to work with Chrome the last few days. Have had to go slumming in IE.

As for your game, I'm thinking 49-6. I might have put a few more points down, but I think you may have a little letdown after last week. I think you keep them out of the end zone.

Since I don't tweet commenting on your most recent tweet. Feel free to nuke this if you want. For the rest iof you, if it is still here, bear with me, this is a bit wordy and seems to wander around a bit, but it relates to the tweet about Lancaster. I live outside of Lancaster, outside of the town of Carroll. Lancaster is the county seat. The last county fair in Ohio is in my county and I took my son and a friend from school to the fair. Stupid me, I forgot to grab my coat and got a bit cold while standing around watching the boys ride. I did see two high school age lesbian couples. Fairfield County is solidly Republican, socially conservative and pretty white. In my son's school, there are more adopted kids from Asian countries than African Americans. I grew up in Columbus, lived for a number of years in DC, so seeing same sex couples, even younger ones, is not surprising to me. One of the couples was mixed race. While I grew up in Columbus, my Mom grew up in Fairfield County and my Dad spent some of his childhood there, so as a kid I always went to the Fair every October. My wife grew up in Fairfield county, was involved in 4-H and spent plenty of time there as well. Anyhow, when I finally got home, I got in the hot tub because I was still trying to thaw out. My wife joined me and I was going over my day, I mentioned to my wife about the two couples. The one I wasn't positive about, they were holding hands and girls sometimes do that. The mixed race couple though, I had no question about. It was only “newsworthy” because we had both grown up with the Fair, we are in our early 40s and we would never have seen an open display of affection like that when we were kids. Again, not that either of us had a problem with it, it is just a bit out of the historic norm. The point, which I am finally getting to is, my wife asked me which I thought was the more surprising thing, that they were lesbians or one white and one African American. Without hesitation, I said the fact they were lesbians was more surprising. I saw one straight mixed race couple there, there was a black husband in Michigan gear and his wife (no visible affiliation) standing with me at the bumper cars and a few other rides. We talked a little about your game against Illinois. There probably were more, the only reason I really noticed him was the Michigan gear. I said to my wife, most people seem to have made more progress when it comes to race issues than with sexual orientation issues. Then I came home and saw your tweet. Shows what I know.

I did notice the racist's shirt was blue, maybe he is one of those Walmart Wolverines that live down here? Probably not, but I don’t want to be associated with that kind of stupid.

Mikoyan said...

Wow BAH....haven't seen him in forever....

Ramona said...

Love, love, LOVE LOVE LOVE the MZone original known as KyF. It is a pretty darned unique and intelligent series. I do quail however trying to get past the 2012 Word verification. So who knows if you will see this or not. Oh and you could have gone with Gene Hackman's picture...

Ramona said...


surrounded in columbus said...

Lancaster (pronounced "Lynnkissedher") is the last stop for civilization as you head towards Appalachia (pronounced "Logan"). There may be only a few true nutcases left in town these days but by the time you hit Sugar Grove? It's "Deliverance" country.

Bigasshammm said...

Here's one for your season ticket tally.

I just bought tickets to the Iowa game November 17 on eBay for 132.50. So 66.25 a ticket. Section 12 in the end one high up. Actually good seats I like seeing the field like that.

Dennis said...


I think the folks at the other Ohio that also beat you in basketball last year might not agree with you. Athens is a pretty nice college town. I will mostly agree with your assesment of Logan though. I think I may have asked before but I forgot your reply, where in Central Ohio are you.

Cograts on your win, you guys kept them from the couple field goals I though they would get. Taking out their QB (completely clean, not implying anything) helped, but even with him you guys were in good shape.

This should be an intersting week, since we finally get to do some useles comparisons. :) We get Purdue at home (you played them well at their place) and you get MSU at home, (we squeaked out a win on the road.) I'm not sure what we can do about our defense, but as the season progresses I grow more worried about you guys and especially PSU on the road. And Wisconsin looks like they may be on track as well.

surrounded in columbus said...

Lewis Center (southern Delaware County near Polaris), but i shoot a lot down near Sugar Grove & i'm originally from Lawrence County. trust me- i know backwoods, red neck behavior pretty well. the racist in the tee shirt could have gone to my high school.

Dennis said...


I know Lewis Center. One of my best friend's used to live there, in the development behind the elementary school on Hollenback. His wife was a teacher at a different school in Olentangy and had a baby. On her way back home from the school showing the baby she was broadsided by a Semi that ran the redlight there on 23 at Hyatt's. The baby got a bump on the head but was fine otherwise. Chris was in a coma for 15 days and never woke up. That was back in 2006 and was one of the driving reasons the wife and I decided to work really hard to end our exile in DC to move back to the Central Ohio area.

Not sure how long you have been up there, but I remember when that was nothing but fields and woods up there, and the first exit north of I-270 was 36/37.

MMQ said...

Benny and Yost,

I'm counting on you here. As a religious reader and fact memorizer of KYF, I have cited many interesting things at the tailgates over the years without being challenged. However, it would seem that a huge debate has erupted with respect to your Illini information as penned last week......I have a bet riding on this so we need your insight and input....

"It is very inaccurate (the Illini Summary). There was a very famous 17th Century explorer who traveled through French Indian territory meeting and trading with the various Indian tribes. His name was La Salle. His writings about visiting with the Illini Indians are even in the 10th Grade English Literature book I taught out of with the LA Unified School District. The Iriquois hated the Illini. There is a state park that I have been to many times called Starved Rock. It is near Bloomington, IL. After years of fighting in which the Illini suffered incredible numbers, the Iriqouis (along with a confederation of other Indian tribes) surround the last of the Illini, who had taken refuge on a densley forested hill. Today the hill is known as Starved Rock because the Coalition of Indian tribes blockaded the Illini, forceing many to starve to death. Eventually, in a last ditch effort, the Illini stormed down the hill, desperate to flee. The Iriquois and their Indian allies slaughtered every man, woman, and child, send the Illini Indians into extiction.

I found it interesting that the modern day Indian tribes that fought to ban Illinois' mascot were the decendants of the vary Indian tribes that had slaughtered the Illini into extinction. It was as if they were finishing the job. Unlike the Seminole Indians, there were no Illini in existance to defend the University's use of Chief Illiniwek.

The very fact that the state of Illinois was named after the Illini gives testiment that the Illini once existed, in addition to La Salle's writings.

"Illiniwek" is a word from the Illini language. It means "they are men." George Zuppkee, Illinois' football coach during the 1920s adopted "the Chief" as a noble homage to the people for which the team and state were named. A Soiux Chief then donated the wardrobe to the University and presented it to Zuppkee at the 50 yard line before a game.

I hope this gives some insight."

What ever clarification you can add would be great.