It's the middle of the night but I've decided to type out some random thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head over the last few days while I was wandering around at 10,000 feet trying to find oxygen. Mountain, not airplane.
These will be very random. It's late. I'm tired. But the fresh mountain air has envigorated me. Let's number these.
1. I randomly remembered something I wrote before Tim Beckman's second season which I caught a lot of heat for. (What a horrific sentence, that.) I remember suggesting that maybe going to a bowl the third season was a curse, not a blessing, for Illini coaches. Lou Tepper went to a bowl his third season and then failed. Ron Turner went to a bowl his third season and then failed. Ron Zook went to a bowl his third season and then failed. Tim Beckman went to a bowl his third season and then failed. Maybe it's best that Lovie goes to a bowl in year two. Or perhaps year four?
I caught the heat for suggesting a slower rebuild for Beckman would be better (and rightly so), but my point was that we've seen coaches build a team or two but never build a program. Maybe when a program is rebuilt it takes longer? When I studied all college football rebuilds last December I noticed that the fourth year was always the big leap forward. We've seen the leaps in Year Three (four consecutive coaches) but then nothing ever happens beyond that. Is it possible that... slower is better?
You don't have to send me the emails or put anything in the comments - I know how ridiculous that statement is. I'm just saying that it's odd that no recent Illini coach has gone to a bowl in his fourth season. Mackovic was the last one to do it. That's weird, right?
Anyway, here's what Lovie should do: go to a bowl in his second season. Break the streak that way.
2. The reason this is on my mind: I'm in Colorado. Basically the same trip to Colorado as last year. Last year I barely saw any CU stuff anywhere. This year, CU Buffs shirts everywhere. One good football season and the whole region is back involved.
A year ago, I'd say everyone here wanted Mike MacIntyre fired. He'd won two conference games in three years (10-27 overall, 2-25 in conference). This year, after his Year Four breakout with 10 wins, he's apparently a local hero. Of course, this season will be the test for them - did he build a team, or has he built a program?
It's interesting to hear about the local interest in the program again. No athletic department has more mirrored ours this decade more than Colorado. They were in that same "no Sweet 16, no 8-win football season" boat with us this decade (we even beat them in the NCAA Tournament), but last year they broke out with 10 football wins. I can't wait until that happens for us. And it will happen. It must. It just has to.
3. This trip has left me completely disconnected from July AAU basketball. I saw we offered that kid from Chaminade in St. Louis who was blowing up at the Peach Jam (would be nice to go to a press conference at Chaminade and see the kid pick up an Illinois hat), but beyond that, I don't know much at all. We need a scoring guard, a wing, and a big, so here's to hoping we're zeroing in on those three.
Ideally Ayo Dosunmu is the scoring guard, Tim Finke is the wing, and we find the big we want during this AAU July. But I could also get down with just adding Dosunmu and Finke this fall and then looking for the big in the spring, possibly even a 5th-year transfer big. A quick google just now shows that we offered this Tamell Pearson kid from Morgan Park - maybe he's the big?
I don't know why I made this a bullet point. I have no information to share, no opinions here, no hot takes. I just realized that it's mid-July and I'm sorely behind on hoops recruiting. Which means all I can really offer is my typical "Dosunmu is everything, I like Finke over THT, we really need to find a big". makes mental note to research hoops recruiting when I get back
4. I have the Doobie Brothers song "What A Fool Believes" stuck in my head right now. No idea why. Wait - I know why. Our rental car has satellite radio and so naturally I've been listening to the Yacht Rock station while driving around the mountains, so it was one of the songs on in the background during the drive today.
Maybe there's some reason it's stuck in my head. It's a song about a guy trying to rekindle things with a girl only to find out there's no "re" to the "kindle" - she never liked him in the first place. Maybe Illinois Football is the girl and we're the guy? My brain is on to something here.
5. I got I-L-L'd in a grocery store the other night. Love it when that happens. I don't know if you know this about me (you probably could guess), but I pretty much just wear Illini shirts everywhere. I have no fashion sense, no style. I'm just "guy in an Illini shirt".
Which gets me lots of I-L-L's, which I love. Especially when I'm out of state. We have this massive fanbase just waiting for one Colorado-like year and then suddenly our shirts will be everywhere. I can't wait for that to happen.
(But what a fool believes he sees no wise man has the power to reason away.)