Illinois Football's Latest Challenge: A Lovie Smith Beatdown

Published on 08-Mar-2016 by Alan Adamsson
Football - NCAA / NCAA Football Daily Update

Easier said than done.

It's been one of the mysteries of big brand college football.

What's with the University of Illinois and football?

It's a huge, cash-rich, prestigious school, and an easy drive to a city that's got a traditional affinity to lunch-bucket, snot-knocking football.

Like this:

You know, the sort of stuff that's supposed to be the Big Ten's essence.

However, the program's been a punchline for so long that you can win trivia bets by saying the Illini made the Rose Bowl as recently as 2008. Of course, when they got there, they played like the Illini everyone expects.

This is the school of Red Grange and Dick Butkus, but even back then, the only reason they got the greatest linebacker ever to play the game had nothing to do with football:

Clearly, Illinois hasn't recruited enough elite athletes over the years who were fixing to get married in college.

In fact, not much the Illini has done sent a buzz through their massive alumni network, much less the school administration.

Maybe that's how Josh Whitman sneaked into the athletic director's job. Not that he didn't have credentials, but the only notice an AD ever got in Champaign was when he showed up to congratulate a hoops coach for whatever.

First day on the job, dude went into attack mode. Bill Cubit didn't know what hit him. And then, neither did anyone else:

Well, they'll be hella proud if Lovie Smith puts together a staff that takes advantage of the fact that there's an end zone in front of his team as well as behind it.

That ugly truth hasn't exactly served the dude well in his pro career, even when he led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance.

On the other hand, Smith's career has also shown he can win with subpar talent.

Until proven otherwise, though, this is still Illinois football, and it's swallowed up everyone who's come near it for quite a while, now.

Whether Smith can become the next Pete Carroll or Lou Holtz remains to be seen.

Unless he's well and truly the Illini savior, Smith might want to ask directions to that trap door. Just in case.

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