For Illini Fans, Football Excitement Is In Short Supply


My Aug. 2 column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Northern Illinois is busy pumping up its star QB as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Northwestern is basking in the glow of a No. 22 ranking in the USA Today preseason coaches poll. And over in South Bend, Notre Dame is even higher up the college football ladder, peering down from a lofty No. 11 perch.

Illinois, meanwhile?

Well … it starts training camp next week, too.

You’d barely know it, however, based on the level of excitement – or dearth of it, rather – that’s emanating out of Champaign. Case in point: So slim are the compelling storylines leading up to Tim Beckman’s second season as head coach of the Fighting Illini that on Friday, Champaign News-Gazette columnist Loren Tate wrote a piece entitled, “For starters, here’s my hoops lineup.”

Basketball season doesn’t start until November.

Elsewhere, Decatur Herald-Review columnist Mark Tupper wrote earlier this week that his “Goal is to be fair on the Illini football program.” (Not exactly billboard material.) And the football season appears so bleak that it even scared veteran Illini scribe Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times into retirement.

I’m kidding.

I think.

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