The American Way

Nov 17, 2018

Here's all I can do. This is the only thing I can write. When, in the 35th game of a head coach, you lose 63-0, there are no postgame posts to write. There's no analysis to be made. All I can do is let Austin Roberts talk about the University we love.

Here's my background with Austin. When Justice Williams verballed in the 2015 class, in the LLOUI post, I believe, I made this little joke about calling freshman linebacker Tre Watson "The Truth", calling Justice Williams "Justice", and calling Austin Roberts "The American Way" - something like "and then our 2018 defense will have Truth, Justice, and The American Way at linebacker.

Then, about a year later (at training camp I think?), I forgot that it was Roberts who was going to be The American Way. I assigned the name to another freshman linebacker (Julian Jones). Austin Roberts came up to me at Camp Rantoul and said something like "hey man, you gave away my nickname". Honestly, I've felt bad about it for three years. It would be pretty cool to be a football player and have some dork blogger assign you a nickname, and then to take that nickname away and give it to someone else? Ugh - bad blogger.

Roberts had a rough journey in his five years. When he arrived on campus he was rehabbing a torn ACL from high school. And then, in his sophomore season, another torn ACL. He was a linebacker, and then he was a tight end, and then he was a fullback, and then he was a tight end. He played for Tim Beckman, and then he played for Bill Cubit, and then he played for Lovie Smith. I mean, he started his Illini career on defense and he still played for three different offensive coordinators.

As I've written many times, these are the decisions the adults around him made. We're so incredibly unfair to our players in this pursuit of rebuilding football. They get tossed around in the dryer until some administrator hears the sound and realizes they might have left their wallet in their jeans.

That's Austin Roberts' career. That's Mikey Dudek's career. This was Senior Day, and that's their story. Life can be so unfair.

But just listen to them. You've heard Mikey tell his story. You've seen Scott Van Pelt cover it on SportsCenter. If adversity makes the man, these have to be some of the best men this program has ever produced. Austin is off to med school next fall, and when I tear my ACL in a men's over-50 bocce ball league in 2026, I want him performing the surgery.

This school - this amazing place that will forever feel like home to me - still produces incredible human beings capable of so much in the world. Once per fall, usually after our worst loss, I go walk the quad and remind myself why I do this. That's where I'm headed after I finish typing. I won't feel any better - how could I possibly feel better after a 63-0 loss? - but after talking to Austin, I need to go tag home. You'll understand why when you listen to the interview below.

The adults in charge? Bad decisions, across the board, for decades, leaving this fanbase to deal with being a national laughingstock. The student athletes? Superheroes. Six ACL tears between Austin Roberts, Mikey Dudek, and Dre Brown, and that's three young men I would follow into battle. Adversity has made men.

Adults? You'd better fix it and quick. Mikey Dudek? Superman.

Austin Roberts? The American Way.


Lou-a-villini on November 17 @ 09:02 PM CST

I was anxiously awaiting your “From the Stands,” but this was a nice alternative.

HiggsBoson on November 17 @ 09:23 PM CST

A lot better than the game. And the horrifying realization that Lovie Smith has three more years on his contract. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to be able to keep this up as the years go by. Illini sports was something I always did with my Dad, and he's been gone for awhile and wasn't physically able to climb the stadium ramps for awhile before. Heck, I'm getting up there myself and I've never seen a mess like Hogan and Thomas made of UI athletics. No coach should be losing 63-0 and have a historically bad defense in his third year. Lovie is clearly not the answer, but as someone said on one of the other boards, who'd take the job?

uofi08 on November 17 @ 09:55 PM CST

Les Miles is about to take the Kansas job, which is actually a worse job than ours. There’s people that would take this job. Hell if Whitman called Les, he’d take this job instead of Kansas.

orangejulius on November 17 @ 11:38 PM CST

Recruiting. Recruiting. Recruiting. It's really the only thing that matters. Ron Zook, nincompoop, took us to the Rose Bowl, because he was able to land 4 and 5-star athletes. The last time we were respectable, it was Ron Zook who got us there. If Lovie can continue to upgrade our talent, and I like some of the players he's got coming in, we'll be good again soon. Defections and injuries have more to do with these miserable beatdowns than Lovie's coaching. So people are ready to fire Lovie, but as we've seen in basketball, be careful what you wish for.

IlliniOllie on November 18 @ 08:07 AM CST

Be careful what you wish for, because... what, we might lose 70-0 at home on Senior Day instead of 63-0 under someone else?

I was hoping for a 2006 type season this year. Not a lot of wins, but respectability in almost every game. Seeing clear progress over last year. Getting 60-balled three times, getting blown out over and over, and putting this 63-0 cherry on top of this sundae isn’t that.

36,151 average paid attendance this year, the worst since 1945. The fans are voting with their feet, too.

HiggsBoson on November 18 @ 08:53 AM CST

Yes, exactly. Not a lot of wins this year, but losses in which we were competing rather than being blown out week after week. I could see Fitzie going for 70 next week out of spite. The biggest danger is more defectors in the off season and verbals who change their minds.

Joe Edge on November 18 @ 01:26 PM CST

So exactly right... Recruiting... I didn't like the outcome yesterday any more than anyone else... But I'm still not worried. Frankly, I didn't even know who Lovie was when we hired him (NOTE: I do NOT follow pro football or any other pro sport - AT ALL). If the staff can continue to upgrade the base by getting better and better recruits then the changes will happen... I preach consistency, patience, consistency, and hard work. Changing systems, scheme's, coaching staffs and everything else you can think of nearly every few years hasn't changed a single thing since 1967....

Lassomatic on November 18 @ 11:12 AM CST

Robert, you rock. I love you, man.

BexleyIllini on November 18 @ 11:40 AM CST

I could be onboard with the "tear-it-down/rebuild-with-freshman" model so long as progress is being made. Unfortunately, it feels like team is regressing, and Lovie has lost them. Yes, there have been injuries, suspensions, expulsions, etc. - but this just doesn't excuse performing like a mediocre FCS team. I'm not seeing the light and the end of this tunnel; if someone else can see it let me know.

Bear8287 on November 18 @ 03:01 PM CST

Oh, I can see it. The funny thing is though, that I'm not moving and it seems to be getting closer? What does that mean?

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