Friday, September 23, 2005
Football, NCAA, and the Chicago Tribune
Three things to cover today:
1) Football. Our beloved Fighting Illini are now 2-1. It was great to get two victories to start the season. Last week was a tough loss to a good California team but I liked how the team played the first half. They are young and inexperienced but they will learn how to close out games like that one. I love the attitude Coach Zook has instilled in the team and I think they have gained a lot of confidence from the way this season has started. They know they can play well and be competitive against good teams. This is a key step in rebuilding the football program.
I know that here on Illinitalk our coverage of the football team has not been even remotely as comprehensive as our basketball coverage. That is due to the fact that the Chief and I are bigger basketball fans than football fans, the basketball team is a little easier to cover because of fewer players and because virtually every game is on television (whereas only one of Illinois' football games this year has been on TV), and, finally, we have both been so swamped lately that we have not been able to dedicate the time we would like to football coverage.
However, we do support the football team and wish them good luck against Michigan State this weekend. For a preview, click here. In addition, for defensive back Sharriff Abdullah's perspective, check out this article.
2) The NCAA is now telling the BCS what to do. They announced on Tuesday that they are extending their ban on American Indian nicknames to include bowl games. For details, see this Tribune article. This doesn't really come as a big surprise other than I had orignally understood that what would be allowed in Bowl games was up to the BCS rather than the NCAA. Apparently, I was mistaken. Ironically, the only school this currently impacts is Illinois because the other Division I-A schools with American Indian nicknames--Florida State, Central Michigan, and Utah--have already been granted exemptions. Depending how the rest of Illinois' season goes, it could potentially affect us this football season (hey, I am optimistic). However, Illinois still has time to file an appeal with the NCAA and I believe that will happen at some point prior to the deadline.
3) Normally, I am a big fan of the Chicago Tribune. I like their sports coverage and their columnists are pretty decent. However, I am not so enamored right now with their editorial board. Last Friday they wrote an editorial about the White Sox recent (and rapid) decline and the possibility they may join the long and storied list of local teams that have choked (I would provide a link to the editorial but apparently, the Tribune does not include past editorial columns on their website--at least I couldn't find it). In that list, they included the 2004-2005 Fighting Illini Basketball Team because of their loss to North Carolina in the NCAA Championship Game. Are you kidding me? What the heck were the members of that editorial board smoking when they wrote that? Here is a response from one of the Tribune's readers that I would say conveys the general opinion of virtually every Illinois fan who read that editorial. As we all remember, Illinois had a bad first half, came back to tie it, and had themselves in a position to win as the game wound down. They ended up losing but by any definition of the word, they did not choke. Any more editorials like this one and I may become a subscriber of the Sun-Times.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
A few clarifications are in order, however.
(NOTE: If you are a sports reporter who covers college basketball or the Illini we encourage you to keep reading.)
Winn reports the following: "The Crane coach added that (Kansas coach) Self thinks 'Sherron is the missing piece to Kansas making the Final Four.' And Collins said Self told him the Jayhawks 'want a point guard like me to run the show.'"
And this statement: "Regarding the crowded-backcourt situation in Lawrence, Longstreet said, 'From my understanding, [Self] has talked to Chalmers, and Chalmers doesn't have any problem being the recipient of Sherron's drives to the basket and dish-offs.'"
- Chalmers is Mario Chalmers. The guard Self recruited originally to "run the show." Seriously. Does anyone in their right mind really believe that Self went to Chalmers and told him he's going to be playing second fiddle if Collins commits to KU? Furthermore, after that statement does anyone believe that Bill Self is truthful with recruits?
- And while we're on this topic, just for the sake of argument, there is no way you will ever convince me that the ol' hi-lo offense Self runs is better for point guard development (with the NBA in mind) than Weber's motion offense.
- As for the Final Four, gotta make it out of the first round before that's possible. We must remind our readers of how Kansas was ranked No. 1 in the preseason last year and loaded with talent and this was their final game. Last time we checked, Illinois played for the title last year.
Finally, we need to address these two statements: "Self stole prime Illini target Julian Wright, a Chicago prospect, during the fall recruiting period in '04"
And this: "When Wright committed to Self during a home visit a year ago this month -- in what has become an oft-retold story in the recruiting world -- the prep star did so without ever having visited Kansas."
- Self didn't steal Wright. He had been recruiting him all along at Illinois before he left for Kansas. Weber never had a chance to establish himself and Self had the inside track all along. Then Self played the media attention for all it was worth. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous...in other words, something that Bill Self would tell a recruit.
Bottom line: Weber is honest. Weber is a better bench coach. Illinois is a better fit no matter who you are, but especially if your name is Sherron Collins and you have a chance to believe an honest Bruce Weber that you are going to replace Dee Brown next year at the point at Illinois.