Badgers Shows Us Illini Football Can Be More

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio - Wisconsin v OregonToday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Is Illinois football simply what it is?

Or can it be something more?

On Wednesday, with the sorry state of the Illini as our topic of online discussion, one of my Twitter pals asked me, “At some point, after decades and decades, aren’t you kind of what you are?”

I argued otherwise. After all, during the decade from 2001-2010, Illinois reached two BCS games — the Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season and Rose Bowl following the 2007 season. Among all Big Ten teams, only Ohio State (seven) and Michigan (three) played in more. With that in mind, the Illini football program quite simply should be much better than the disaster that it’s now devolved into with only one win over its past 24 conference games.

In sports, fortunes change all the time – even after a long time. These days, for example, after decades of being what they were, the Kansas City Royals no longer are. Neither are the Baltimore Orioles or even the Pittsburgh Pirates. (The Chicago Cubs, of course, would be the exception).

Meanwhile, in college football circles, the Wisconsin Badgers – who Illinois face on Saturday in Madison – most definitely aren’t what they once were for decades. Rather, Wisconsin has long since become something else entirely. And it’s the Badgers who remain the (orange and) blueprint for what the Illini should aspire to become on the gridiron.

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