Monday, January 02, 2006

The Cart Before the Horse

Nothing I can think of in the past several years epitomizes that phrase better than the little surprise I was greeted with today online.

As I was watching some bowl games I saw that Mike Sherman of the Packers, among many other coaches got fired this weekend. I decided to take a walk around the web and look at the different sport websites to see who may end up where and what coaches may have or not have jobs next year.

While I was doing that I decided to take a look at the website of my beloved University of Illinois Fighting Illini football team. At least they are the Illini for now. The NCAA may turn up the heat on us to drop the nickname. But picking on the NCAA is for a different post. Imagine how far my jaw dropped when I saw this on the front page of the U of I football site.

Yes, the Illinois Renaissance. Looks like they want to give Memorial Stadium a little love. I can't blame them. It hasn't changed much since when I was going to school there 15 years ago from what I can tell.

But I don't think now is the time. Unless they have some key HUGE donations lined up. Not too many people can get too enthused about a team who has won only one Big Ten game in the last 3 years putting us dead last in the conference all three years. Our average attendance is just around 50,000 fans a game - it has been that way for almost EVER - even when we went to the Sugar Bowl 5 years ago. If we can't even sell out a game, what makes the powers that be think that we can gather donations to redo a stadium that nobody wants to go to?

UW here in Madison did it right. Today was Barry Alvarez's last game, a total domination of Auburn. When he was hired, that program was on the skids, the laughingstock of the Big Ten, just like Illinois is now. Alvarez did something - hard work, good staff, quality recruits, positive attitude and the look and feel of a bigtime college football program. After the success of that first Rose Bowl win in the mid 90's, they started selling out every game and the success continued. THEN they proposed the stadium remodel and it worked. Of course the taxpayers got soaked for part of the expense, but when in the history of new stadiums have the taxpayers not received part of the burden?

I find it laughable that Illinois, the laughingstock of the Big Ten, has tried to roll out these plans now, at the low point in Illinois football since I have been a fan. We don't just lose our Big Ten games, we get totally dominated game after game after game. There are several more years we will need to catch up to the Wisconsins, Michigans and Ohio States of the world.

In the meantime we will probably lose the Chief but we may have nice skyboxes. Oskee - wow- wow!

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