The Starting Five

<p>Instead of covering one topic at length, let's take a quick look at five different topics pertaining to the Illini, the Big Ten and college sports.

Enjoy these random thoughts I had while wondering why the Ohio State band needs to play the school fight song every five seconds. Playing the fight song after a touchdown or first down is ok, but playing it after every time one of the players gets a drink of water is a little excessive.

1. Schedule Change Benefits Men's Basketball Team

Bruce Weber's squad was originally scheduled to open their season this past Friday against Pittsburgh in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Illini had to get out of that event and entered in the Jimmy V Classic against Providence on December 9th.

Trading in one game against a Big East opponent in Madison Square Garden for another does not seem like much of a big deal, but I think it was a blessing in disguise. With the installation of the new motion offense, an early game against a team the caliber of Pitt is not what the doctor ordered. This way, the Illini get another week to practice before opening in the friendly confines of the Assembly Hall against Western Illinois.

2. Illinois 3, BYE 0

Ron Turner must be ecstatic because his team did not lose on Saturday. Of course, they did not play, but who am I to rain on their parade. Hopefully, Turner will be able to rally his troops to play the game of their lives against Northwestern next Saturday. Realistically, the game will most likely end with the scoreboard showing fewer points for the Illini. The Wildcats should be able to pick up their sixth win and become bowl eligible at the expense of Illinois.

Early Prediction: Northwestern 35, Illinois 17

3. Predictions Gone Bad

For most of the season, I have been above .500. On Saturday, I took a nasty fall backwards. My Big Ten picks ended up 1-3-1. The message is that I don't know what I am talking about and take my above prediction with a grain of salt.

4. Badgers? We Don't Need No Stinking Badgers!

Congratulations to the Illinois women's volleyball team for their Saturday night victory over #23 Wisconsin at Huff Hall. The Illini, ranked 25th in the country, beat the Badgers by the scores of 30-19, 30-26 and 34-32. The ladies improved to 21-5 overall and 12-4 in the Big Ten. Illinois and Minnesota share second place, only one match behind league-leading Penn State with four matches left in the regular season.

Illini football coach Ron Turner trying to avoid a 1-11 season

5. My Coaching Wish List

It is no secret that Illinois football coach Ron Turner is on the hot seat. The only person who knows if Turner will be back is athletic director Ron Guenther. But, it doesn't hurt to dream. So, in the spirit of Christmas, here is my Illinois football coach wish list. I'll give you two names, with either choice being fine by me.

Norm Chow, offensive coordinator, USC

George O'Leary, defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings

I know that there are many other names out there that deserve consideration. But, these are the two that I think should get the longest looks. Either of these men as the head coach at Illinois would be a great Christmas present for the residents of Illini Nation.

6. Illini in the Booth

I know that the name of this column is the starting five, but I felt the need to bring the sixth man into the game.

The U of I needs to churn out some play-by-play men or color commentators. We need a cheerleader in the football or basketball broadcast booths. ESPN College Gameday's Kirk Herbstreit supports his Ohio State Buckeyes and Lee Corso played football at Florida State with Burt Reynolds. Bob Griese, Purdue alum, was working the OSU-Purdue game for ABC.

It is no different in college hoops, with Jay Bilas being the head Dookie on ESPN's coverage. Then, when you actually get a Big Ten based color analyst for basketball, it's Indiana Hoosier Quinn Buckner.

Let's all hope that Steve Bardo rises through the ranks of broadcasting and can provide an Illini view for the worldwide leader in sports. Judging by his personality, Dee Brown could be a shining star on CBS' coverage of the NCAA tournament when his playing days are done. Former Illini wide receiver Walter Young worked as an intern at The Score in Chicago. He could someday end up working for ABC on Saturday afternoon games. Of course, for him to do that, Illinois would have to be good enough to make the ABC telecast.

Pro Chief AP photo

ILL...............................INI


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