Ron Zook at Media Day

In his first Big Ten Media Day as Illinois coach, Ron Zook spoke to the Big Ten press corps about the difference between expectations at Illinois & Florida, how he has grown from his time at Florida, the Big Ten having a Championship Game, and what outside expectations are placed on his Illini this season.

It's an honor and a privilege to be here. I was fortunate enough to be here as a coach at one time and it feels great to be back in the Big Ten. It's been a whirlwind tour and we've been going as fast as we can go. I can't say enough about the reception that we've had here in the state of Illinois, not only here in Chicago, but all over. It's a great place with great people. The reception from our football team has been great too. It's hard in 15 practices to know where your team is, but I believe that when people leave Memorial Stadium, they will see a team that is having fun and flying around. I can't say enough about our team and the way they have bought into what we are trying to get done.

Obviously they are quite different. I think that maybe in Florida the expectations were a little out of synch where they were talent wise. And I think that here in Illinois our talent level might be better than the expectations here. That might be a little more convenient for our players here as well.

The championship game is a little bit of a double-edge sword for coaches. You can play extremely well throughout the conference schedule and then you get to the championship game and if you have an injury or something, you stumble then you can get thrown out of the mix. The Big Ten Conference is such a prestigious conference and a lot of people in this country look at us and the way things are done.

I don't think I have changed a lot, but at the end of every year you always go back and evaluate what worked and what didn't. As I got back and looked at things, there isn't a lot I would change, and as I have said earlier with the way our players have bought into our system and what we are trying to do, we are just in a very comfortable situation.

Right now, people want to see our program as one that when they come to watch the Illini play, they see the players running around, having fun and competing. If you look at what our basketball program did and the excitement that people got caught up in, I believe there is no reason why we can't have the same thing. If you look at our league it is extremely difficult and competitive and there is no reason why our football program can't be the same way.

Quotes courtesy the Big Ten.

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