Reilly O’Toole finally lives up to Reilly O’Toole hype

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This piece on Reilly O’Toole is from Sports Bank contributor Drew Rossi.

When the Gatorade state player of the year commits to his home state’s university, standards get set. Fans expect 300 yard games and wins over rivals. However, these standards are usually expected to be met well before that player’s final regular season game.

The pride of Wheaton-Warrenville South, Reilly O’Toole, finally provided the signature moment Illini fans have been waiting four years for. O’Toole threw for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns to three different receivers and added another 147 yards on the ground, leading Illinois to a 47-33 victory.

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“I’m just glad my season with these guys can go as long as it can,” said the only player on the Illini roster who went to same high school as Red Grange.

“I just want to play with these guys for as long as I can, be an Illini for as long as I can and it’s come true.”

Tim Beckman On Reilly O’Toole, the 8th ranked QB in the nation, 10th best overall prospect in the state of Illinois when he entered Illinois:

“Reilly O’Toole has three victories in the Big Ten, and I don’t think we were supposed to win any of them. He won Homecoming, he won Senior Day, and now he comes up here and wins on the road. Reilly helped this football team win, and he is one heck of a leader, competitor. He’ll be one of those names that I’ll always remember as long as I coach. He is a special individual.”

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Why did it have to happen today?

The Fighting Illini are now 6-6 and bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. They are likely headed for either the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx or the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. I swear both of those bowls are real. Both games are squeezed right into the heart of the post-Christmas clusterscrew of irrelevant bowls that confirm the perpetual profit-mongering of modern college football. Red Grange would be turning over in his grave from the avarice of the modern bowl system.

Sure, a bowl berth in this era of hopeless Illinois Football is a nice testament to the hard work of the seniors who have spent four years as a punchline, but the only thing the program has to gain from this game is financial profit. It does not establish a return of the program; it will not cause a spike for their 75th-ranked recruiting class; it most certainly will not lead to a packed student section in 2015. It just means Illinois is, once again, a middle-of-the-road football team, undeservedly headed to not really required bowl game.

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It also means the question whether or not the program should fire Tim Beckman just a got a whole lot more conflicted. The answer is not clear to anyone.

One bowl in three years is grounds for dismissal at elite programs. Illinois is no longer one of those programs; although it really should be.

With one of college football’s richest fan bases (UI ranks #26 in the world when it comes to producing millionaires) and one of the nation’s best recruiting bases within the state, the consistently terrible recruiting class rankings produced by Beckman are inexcusable.

A loss could have sealed Beckman’s departure, allowing Mike Thomas to move forward. This win will keep Beckman around until after the bowl game, at least. By that time Michigan will have already claimed the top Big Ten-aspiring prospect and U of I will be left to fight over scraps from the table of teams with coaching vacancies

–Sports Bank contributor Drew Rossi

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