Friday, August 24, 2007


The bickering between the Big Ten Network and Comcast Cable continues as you will read in Teddy Greenstein's update in the Chicago Tribune today. The good news from my perspective is that the BTN is still optimistic about deals with other cable providers and Dish Network, which I have at home. I have called them already to encourage them to carry the BTN and if you would like to call your provider to do the same, call 1-866-WANT-B10.

With regards to Comcast and the BTN, today's article pretty much makes both of them sound like little kids who are whining and can't figure out how to play together. You know what, sit down like grown-ups and work it out. Surely you can come to some sort of agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

On a different note, please let me comment on Alma Mater's post entitled "Crime and Punishment," since she asked for our thoughts on the Jamar Smith situation. When I read yesterday's Trib article on the situation, I was pretty pleased with the decision. I did not support letting him play this year but I also did not want him to be kicked off of the team for good. The redshirt is a good middle of the road option. It punishes him but gives him a chance to get his life together. If he does that well, then he will be back with the team. If he does it poorly, the university still has the option to keep him off of the team permanently. I realize that the situation with the football team was handled differently, but I think the coaches and administration have to examine each situation on its own merits and then make the best decision they can off of the information available. I don't think a "one size fits all" policy is the best way to go in these situations and I am pleased with the end result as it currently stands.

One last thing for today--here is the latest on the Illini's trip for the tournament in Canada.

Have a good weekend and GO ILLINI!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crime and Punishment

It's official. Jamar Smith will be redshirted and sit out the 2007-08 season as part of his punishment for the DUI and accident convictions from late last season. He will be allowed to rejoin the team if he meets specific obligations, which aren't included in the official release.

More details will likely come, but we have a decision that coincides with the beginning of fall classes, as promised. There is no question that Jamar made an incredibly stupid decision and endangered the life of a teammate and friend. (Unfortunately, I'm sure others have made similar stupid decisions and gotten away with it, but that's not the point.)

Jamar has dealt with the legal consequences of his conviction, and now faces consequences in his athletic career. So is this fair? I think sitting out a year has merit as a punishment. He will have the opportunity to decide for himself if he will change his habits and meet his obligations. He will have time to feel the pain of his decisions, and yet he has an opportunity to earn another chance, if his actions match his words. And yet, being off the team for good would be acceptable, as well. After all, there are a couple talented football receivers that made stupid choices and didn't get another chance at Illinois, and we don't know that they so clearly endangered the lives of others.

This is an interesting topic, as a NFL QB Michael Vick faces punishment for pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges. As this blogger points out, not everyone gets another chance. He will deal with legal and NFL consequences, but he won't be the first or last to be in this type of situation.

What should penalties and punishment look like at the college level? Do the Illini have the right approach -- letting the head coach call the shots with the support of the rest of the department? Should the NCAA be involved? (Please don't say yes to this one -- they are too busy looking for ways to destroy revered university traditions to be interested in policing student-athlete behavior.) Should the legal ruling come first, or should a coach discipline immediately?

Chief, Good Hope Orange, welcome back! I know you've had busy summers, but as we get ready for football, I'd love to hear your opinions on this (depressing) topic. What do you guys think?

P.S. All this talk is enough to make me long for the legendary characaters of the "good ol' days," captured well in this article about Lou Henson. [Sarcasm alert] After all, Lou never had to worry about black marks on his program.

P.P.S. Have I mentioned that I'm excited about Illini football this year? I'm not alone! But I'm not as fickle a fan as Vic Reato may think. Go Illini!

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Juice Williams and Demetrius Jones

I have been MIA on posts for a while (my apologies for that) but saw something this morning that I thought would be worth sharing. Teddy Greenstein has a very nice article in today's Chicago Tribune about how Isaiah "Juice" Williams (of our beloved Illini) and Demetrius Jones (of Notre Dame) have raised the profile of the Chicago Public League when it comes to football. There are some good comments from both guys and I think you will be impressed by the article and what they have to say, especially at the end.

Until later, GO ILLINI!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Things that irritate me

Just in case I forgot that I haven't written in a while, Lil Alma Mater made sure a couple weeks ago I knew that she was most unhappy with the lack of new content on the blog. I was extraordinarily flattered that we have such avid readers here at Illinitalk but I've always viewed summer as a time to take a break of sorts from Illini sports.

However, summer is almost over and there is nothing better that prompts me to write than when I have a gripe. So in order to make Lil Alma Mater happy and to air my irritation to the world, here it is:

I'm dutifully preparing for the fall and winter by entering the football and basketball schedules into my electronic calendar (Lil Alma Mater and her older sister problably have them memorized. I'm just not that smart.)

So anyway, in order to do so, I printed out both schedules from Only there is a slight problem. The printer -friendly version of the basketball schedule is actually last year's. I got halfway through entering the wrong basketball schedule before realizing what I had done since there was no Hawaii trip and it listed the Maryland game as being played in Champaign.

Yeesh. Time for Kent Brown's communications crew to do a little proofreading.


Saturday, August 18, 2007


That's Big Ten Network. And as the Trib's Teddy Greenstein says, I don't care about the deals between BTN and carriers. I just want to know if I will get to watch Big Ten football on Sept. 1. Will Comcast carry it? How much will I have to pay? Or will I have to become an Illini regular at a local sports bar that has sound on for all Illini games? And will I not be able to watch other Big Ten games on my college football Saturdays (the rare days I turn on College Game Day at 9 a.m. and watch football until the helmet stickers are handed out on College Game Night)? Or will I have to consider DirecTV? And how long will I have to wait for answers?



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Injury Update

I'm sure you heard the sigh of relief yesterday that the injuries sustained in Saturday's scrimmage weren't as bad as they could have been. Benn is "day-to-day" and James may be out a couple weeks.

But now the coaching staff has taken a hit, when co-defensive coordinator Curt Mallory left Camp Rantoul with a groin injury.

I'm still really looking forward to the beginning of the college football season, especially now that the Cubs (my summer entertainment) have come back to earth following their hot post-All-Star-break run.



Sunday, August 12, 2007


The weekend news from Rantoul centered on the injuries suffered during a scrimmage Saturday night. Regis Benn hurt his shoulder, and his back-up, Chris James, banged up his knee. The extent of these injuries and others was not immediately clear, but it has many holding their breath.

For other insight on the state of Illini football, Tupper offers a good overview of the scrimmage.

In other Big Ten news, it seems that the Big Ten Network still has a ways to go to be included in basic packages with most network providers. Personally, I hope that a few more providers agree to pick it up, because I'm not sure I can afford to go out to watch the football and basketball games carried only by the new station.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

That's Our Team

Mark Tupper is genuinely excited about the shape the Illini are in at "Camp Rantoul" this year - lean, muscular and athletic. And these guys expect to win.

Coach Zook's recruiting has boosted expectations (and ticket sales) in Champaign this year, and the excitement is building toward the season opener Sept. 1.

Like every team, the 2007 Fighting Illini football team is made up of individuals who shape the team personality. We've heard plenty about potential stars who made foolish decisions and got kicked off the team, but the Illini have other leaders, as well. Senior linebacker J Leman may be "The best linebacker you've never heard of" and he makes an impact on and off the field. QB Juice Williams has more confidence after a year at the college level and a summer at the Mannings' camp. Freshman Martez Wilson plans to make an immediate impact, and he's not alone. And don't forget Regis Benn or the members of last year's recruiting class who now have a year of experience.

Have I mentioned yet that I'm excited about Illini football?

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Big Ten Stuff

It's August! That means the college football season is almost here. It also means that Big Ten Day has provided a preview. Columnist Teddy Greenstein offers an interesting summary of current "official" Big Ten positions and policies. Your thoughts?



It's a Brand New Ballgame in Champaign

With the football season kicking off in a month, here's a preview I put together as requested for a Hawkeye blog. You know most of this, but didn't want you to feel left out.

Cautious optimism surrounds Illini fooball as we head into the 2007 season. Admittedly a work in progress for the past couple years, the pieces are beginning to fall into place for a respectable Big Ten football team at Illinois:

I expect a .500 record this year -- a major improvement -- and even more competitive games than 2006 (note that only Michigan and Florida played Ohio State better than the Illini last season).

You can see the comments added by the hawkeye blogger, but note the assumption that the correct pronoun to refer to this author is "he." I must admit that made this girl laugh.



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