With the New Year at midnight and the Rose Bowl coming up, I came across this picture today and I was an awe. Not because as a current Junior at Illinois and I was only 12 years old and seeing that many Illini fans is crazy to me, but because I know that there is the slimmest of hopes we will be there soon. All those fans are Illini fans. We might be a “basketball school”, but the picture refutes that. The picture shows that the fan base is there, but the team and coaches need to deliver.
The 2007 season is the only one that I remember before I enrolled in the University. Juice and Rashard led the way through the Big Ten to get to the most magical bowl of the year. As many believe now, the only bowl games that matter, are the CFP Bowls and the Rose Bowl. Well in 2007, it was just the Natty and the Rose Bowl that mattered. The picture shows the team and the Illini Fans with hope. Making their way to Pasadena through the tunnel and a chance to become heroes. Well after that picture was taken, hope was gone quickly. After the 1st quarter, we are down 14-0. We got fucking crushed. We lost 49-17. The game was an embarrassment. 9 years later, I have a different feeling looking at that picture. My feeling is back to the hope.
Lovie has done work since he got to Champaign. Going 3-9 was upsetting but not unexpected. We had Beckman’s guys that didn’t fit any scheme Illinois was trying to run. At the start of the season, we had a potential first round selection in Smoot, who underperformed to his counterpart Phillips, and now we’re expected 4 mid-late round draft players. Nickerson Jr. and President are the ones potentially who could make it 4. What Lovie has done is recruit with success. We have currently a top 40 recruiting class with the potential to get in the top 35. Also, we have a chance to get our last 5 star rated recruit in ages. Current NFL star Corey Liuget was a 4 star recruit back in 2008, so nabbing a 5 star away from Saban and Alabama would be massive. When I look at the picture I think of what Lovie and his assistants are doing on that recruiting trail and I get that hope back.
Ways we can judge the progress on the hope:
- See where this recruiting class ends up in the rankings (Hope can only get higher)
- Next year, win the games we are supposed to win (Ball State, WKU, Purdue, Rutgers)
- At least 1-1 Vs. Indiana and Northwestern
- Stay close with USF, Iowa, and Minnesota
- Watch Lovie kill his first full year of recruiting with the 2018 class
- Be competitive in Big Ten West in 2018
As a fan, I can only hope. To write out my steps helps my hope. Once we can accomplish steps 1-6, we can start thinking of maybe getting a comparison picture with the one above.
Comment with what you believe are steps of hope.
OSKEE- WOW -WOW