Lovie Smith, Josh Whitman Give Updates on $80m Facilities Plan (Audio)

On Friday, Illinois football unveiled their $80 million plans to upgrade their facilities. The ambitious project includes a brand-new 107,650 square foot Illinois Football Performance Center to be constructed next to the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility, and adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

That’s the immediate short-term project. In the longer term, phase 2 seeks to expand Memorial Stadium’s south and east grand stands. Construction on the new practice facility will break ground early next year, with a projected completion in time for the start of the 2019 college football season.

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Illini Football: Mike Dudek Comeback Critical to 2017 Success

mikey-dudek-illini-football

If you believe in karma, and you’re aware of the Mike Dudek story, then you no doubt believe that he’s due for some better fortune. Dudek wasn’t highly recruited coming out of Naperville (Neuqua Valley), but he busted out with a huge rookie season at Illinois, garnering first team freshman All-American honors in 2014.

He was known as Mikey Dudek then, and some today still refer to him as “Mikey,” but no matter what first name one uses, we can all agree that he’s a play-maker. He’s a dangerous wide receiver who stretches the field and gives Illinois the vertical passing game element that they have sorely lacked in the two years that he’s been absent.

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IlliNation Show Featuring Brad Underwood, Nick Anderson and Larry Hawley

brad-underwood illini basketball

A semi-exclusive with Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood headlines Volume I, Episode II of The IlliNation Show. Underwood shed some light on what his daily life work life is like in the summer months. He also talked about Illinois basketball being ranked #11 all time by the Associated Press and how the program needs to have “that swagger.”

Next up was Nick Anderson, of the ’89 Flyin’ Illini and the first ever draft pick in Orlando Magic history. His insights on Chicagoland recruiting issues are definitely something you read about and listen to.

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The IlliNation Show Featuring Peanut Tillman, Dick Butkus and Dee Brown

OTIS-ILLINI-ILLINATION

Welcome to The IlliNation Show, inaugural edition! It’s volume I, chapter I of The Sports Bank’s special, exclusive Illini podcast. We have an action packed first show for you which covers the following topics in the segments below:

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Illini Basketball: 1989 vs 2005, Breaking Down the Hypothetical Matchup

illini basketball

In the past half-century and change, Illini basketball has produced two once-in-a-generation level teams. While three teams achieved a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the 2001 side did not reach the Final Four, like 2005 and the 1989 squads did. 

The ’01 group was special, reaching the Elite 8, but they’re not in the same class as the ’89 and ’05 teams, who were borderline magical. Illini basketball reached the Final Four in ’49, ’51 and ’52. Then it didn’t happen again for 37 years. The program returned to college basketball’s biggest stage again 16 years later, but hasn’t been beyond the round of 32 since.

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Dick Butkus Gets Candid on Steroids, Concussion Crisis (EXCLUSIVE)

dick butkus

For football legend Dick Butkus, the first and foremost cause celebre is keeping the next generation of athletes from resorting to illegal and dangerous steroids, as well as other performance enhancing products. Butkus and his son Matt formed the I PLAY CLEAN program in 2006  to educate and encourage high school students to make the right choice of playing clean.

While steroid usage has been a major problem in young males for quite some time (and continues to be today), the program’s research has shown that the biggest increase, recently is in female athletes.

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Dick Butkus Doesn’t know “what the hell” Keeps the Chicago Bears Down (EXCLUSIVE)

dick butkus

Dick Butkus simply does not hold back, nor should he. He’s got a lot more than “senior privilege” backing his right to conduct candid conversation, as he’s simply the greatest linebacker in football history. He’s a franchise cornerstone for two storied Land of Lincoln football clubs that sport the orange and blue, and he just can’t understand why both of them, the Chicago Bears and the Illinois Fighting Illini, can’t get to the top and stay there.

Speaking ahead of the inaugural Illini Athletics Hall of Fame gala (Butkus was a member of the very first class to be honored), he told a group of reporters his bold thoughts on the Illini football struggles (read that over at this link and listen to the audio below)

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Illini Football: Seven UI Athletics Hall of Fame Snubs

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Illini football comprised one quarter of the inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class

Dick Butkus, Dike Eddleman, Red Grange, George Halas, George Huff, Buddy Young and Bob Zuppke were the seven representatives of the gridiron in the 28 member class. There were no truly obvious, glaring omissions, but still plenty of accomplished players left out.

Let’s take a look at who the next seven should be (if UI decides to put seven in again). Yes, you will disagree, so have at it in the comments section. Keep it above board! Stick to the facts and figures, and avoid ad hominem attacks.

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Illini Basketball: Brad Underwood Adds New Assistant Coach

brad-underwood illini basketball

The last time that Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood spoke to the media (a couple weeks ago on the night of the Inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Gala), he spoke of swagger. Underwood said his team needs to have that swagger, and maybe the newest addition to his staff will help him get there.

On Friday, Underwood announced the addition of Geoff Alexander, who will serve as assistant to the Head Coach, as the newest member of the Illini basketball staff.

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Illini Basketball: Seven UI Athletics Hall of Fame Snubs

nick anderson illini basketball lou henson

Illini basketball, on the men’s side, comprised one quarter of the inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class. That’s fitting as U of I is a hoops school. As current Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood reminded the media ahead of the HOF gala, Illinois was ranked the #11 hoops program of all time by the Associated Press.

Nick Anderson, Dee Brown, Jerry Colangelo, Dike Eddleman, Manny Jackson, Andy Phillip and Deron Williams are the seven representatives of the hoops program in the 28 member class. There is one obvious glaring omission, and fortunately Athletic Director Josh Whitman has already rectified that.

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Dick Butkus Sees “Golden Opportunity” for Illinois Recruits to Turn Illini Around

dick butkus

Shakespeare famously said “past is prologue,” and Dick Butkus is hoping that the Illini football program can repeat the glorious history that he helped make. In the inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class, Butkus is as much a “this individual needs no introduction” as possible.

In Illini football lore, there’s Dick Butkus and Red Grange, and then there’s everybody else. The nation’s top linebacker, at both the high school and collegiate level, receives the “Butkus Award” each season, and that says it all.

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Exclusive: Dee Brown on Why He Left Illini Basketball, His Future Plans

dee brown

The immortal artist Paul Gaugin once said “one must do whatever is necessary to create.” Former Illini basketball great Dee Brown embodied that philosophy during his playing career, as he did whatever it took to create opportunities for both his teammates and himself on the offensive end.

He won the 2006 Bob Cousy Award (nation’s best point guard) his senior season, capping an Illinois career which included a national title game appearance, first team All-American status and a B1G Player of the Year Award. These days, Brown is again doing whatever is necessary to try and create the coaching career he seeks.

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