Josh Ferguson could carry the Illini on his back


josh-ferguson

Watching Illini running back Josh Ferguson today reminded me of those old “we secretly switched Folgers Crystals with the leading brand….let’s see if anyone notices” commercials from back in the ’80s. Except the switch would be Josh Ferguson for Marshall Faulk.

That’s how special Ferguson was in the passing game; complementing his running for Illinois. “Now that we’ve made the switch, let’s see what happens during Big Ten play.”

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Illinois football let EVERYONE into their game, ticket or no ticket


illini football

Today, the college football world experienced something quite rare. A massive storm front moved into Champaign, Illinois while the Illinois Fighting Illini trailed the Texas State Bobcats 14-6 with 13:35 left to play in the second quarter.

Lightning forced an evacuation of Memorial stadium and delayed the game well over two hours. But that’s not the story here. What makes this specific college football game so unique is what transpired once the storm passed and the stadium re-opened.

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Applying Tim Beckman “logic” to other areas of life


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Washington trounced Illinois 44-19 on Saturday, in a game that was even uglier than it sounds. It only took 188 yards for UW to hit 35 points, and they reached that mark by the middle of the second quarter. Tim Beckman did show improvement from 2012 to 2013, but in this young season, they’ve shown no improvement. They might be regressing from last year, but it’s too early to say for certain at this point.

One thing is for certain, the coaching staff failed the players miserably, as the Illini were very ill-prepared in this one. Tim Beckman offered an explanation for this train wreck, telling the media:

“You take out 21 points on three plays and we’re in this football game.”

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PHOTO: Tim Beckman, Pat Fitzgerald called out by NIU alums


tim-beckman-illini-football

Tim Beckman is 5-18 (very likely 5-19 by the time you actually read this) versus FBS college football teams during his tenure at Illinois. It is a fact that the Northern Illinois football team has three wins over Big Ten teams in the past two years. Beckman has just one. It is a fact that NIU has the second most victories of any FBS team (Oregon is first) over the past four years.

Also, if the Fighting Illini were to play the Huskies this year (they won’t), Las Vegas might deem NIU the favorite.

All that said, what you see below still reeks of desperate mid-major amateurism:

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Tracy Abrams is gone; how ’14-’15 Illini Basketball will adjust


tracy-abrams

Since Tuesday you heard the Tracy Abrams rumors. Yesterday afternoon you got the devastating news. No need for The Sports Bank to re-hash the details, the type of people who will click on this post are already up to speed.

So where does Illini basketball Coach John Groce go from here?

Obviously, Abrams has some limitations on both ends of the floor. He’s okay, but not great defensively. Offensively, he’s very streaky. In terms of overall value as a player, he’s about on par with a Chester Frazier or Kevin Turner.

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Jalen Brunson decision time: don’t overreact Illini fans


jalen-brunson

In about 100 minutes or so, we’ll know where Jalen Brunson, a blue chip point guard prospect out of Stevenson High School, is going to play his college basketball. It’s between Illinois and Villanova. Either way he goes, this will be the only Jalen Brunson story appearing on this website today; or tomorrow.

Because college hoops decisions can be summated in tweets, not feature stories. The Sports Bank’s Twitter feed may have a reaction, but not the site. Because again, WAY TOO MUCH is made of these decision ceremonies already. There is no need to give these “events” any more coverage than they already have.

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UW Huskies vs Illini football: brutally honest game preview


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(Update: here’s my segment from this morning discussing Illini football on 1620 The Zone KOZN)

Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Cubitism (trademark The Sports Bank.net) is what Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit does with quarterbacks. He took a very mediocre signal caller in Nathan Scheelhaase and shaped him into a Picasso style masterpiece. Now Cubit has a really talented QB in Wes Lunt and through two games he’s put up ridiculous numbers.

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Illini QB Wes Lunt putting up big numbers in “Cubitism”


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(Update: Wes Lunt wins Big Ten player of the week award)

Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Cubitism (trademark The Sports Bank.net) is what Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit does with quarterbacks. He took a very mediocre signal caller in Nathan Scheelhaase and shaped him into a Picasso style masterpiece. Now Cubit has a really talented QB in Wes Lunt and through two games he’s put up ridiculous numbers.

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Attendance more serious an issue than losing for Illini football


tim-beckman-illini-football

Only 36,000 and change paid to see the 2014 Illini football opener versus Youngstown St. Of course, the true number of butts in the seats was much lower, meaning that Memorial Stadium was essentially close to half empty. Of all the teams in the five power conferences, Memorial Stadium had the second worst percentage of tickets purchased to tickets available. (Purdue came in last)

Of all the teams in the five power conferences that had hosted a game, only four schools had a worse turnout than Illinois.

That’s a huge problem for the job security of Tim Beckman and the state of the Illinois Fighting Illini football program. Yes, winning cures everything, and winning would solve this issue. Yes, Beckman’s 7-18, 1-15 in conference record has a lot to with why people aren’t showing up. However, ultimately, it’s probably revenue at the gate, more than winning percentage in the standings that will force the hand of Athletic Director Mike Thomas.

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Illini QB Aaron Bailey really needs to convert to WR or DB


aaron-bailey

The talk from Illini Nation around QB Aaron Bailey reminds me of the talk from Chicago Cubs Nation surrounding Javier Baez. Or Jorge Soler. Or Kris Bryant. Or Albert Almora. Or (insert another Cubs blue chip Minor League prospect’s name here). It’s the same sentiment- accepting that losing, and really bad losing at that, is inevitable in the present.

Therefore, instead look to the future and focus on the can’t miss prospect.

Well, the future is now, and Bailey needs to get on the field. Just like Baez is now playing for the Cubs, Aaron Bailey needs to start playing a significant role. If he has to switch positions, so be it. The Illini are severely undermanned, and they need all hands on deck to actually compete in the Big Ten this year.

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2014 Illini football expectations: FOX Sports pundits discuss


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The 125th season of Illini football kicks off in mere hours, and it’s one that is greeted with as little buzz as any that I can remember in my lifetime. Being a third generation Illini, I’m struggling to recall a year that had as little anticipation as this one. The opening opponent (Youngstown St.) doesn’t help. Neither does the weakness of the home slate.

Penn State is the only name brand team on the 2014 Illini football home schedule, and that’s going to hurt attendance quite a bit this year.

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Northwestern, Illini football 2014 season prospectus


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Lots of rapid fire and hot seat type of stuff as we enter week one for both the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Northwestern Wildcats. You have questions, I have answers. You can catch me talking Illini and NU every Tuesday morning at 10:40 AM CST.

Here’s my segment from this morning on KOZN 1620 The Zone, NBC Sports Radio Omaha. 

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