I'm thinking of making this a weekly feature. After all, is there a bigger punching bag out there than the Illinois football program? Even Indiana stomped them, as the lowly Hoosiers rolled to a 27-14 victory last Saturday.
As the Illini fail train prepares to head to West Lafayette, Ind., for a game against Purdue this Saturday, we make note that Illinois is now ranked No. 9 in ESPN's Bottom 10 rankings. That's a move "up" one slot from last week. ESPN says, "When the Clowns Come Home": Has Ron Zook's circus act run its course at Illinois?" As an alum, I can only hope so.
Speaking of Zook, sportsline.com has moved him up to No. 2 on the coaches hot seat. Amazingly, Steve Kragthorpe from Louisville is still doing a crappier job than Zook. That's quite a trick.
It's an annual rite of fall: I turn up the criticism of the Illinois football program, and some posters over on Illini Board accuse me of being a "bandwagon fan." LOL. I've been candid in my assessments of the program and its direction, or lack thereof. If something doesn't change dramatically, I will not be renewing my season tickets for the 2010 season. I expect, ya know, actual value in return for my entertainment dollars.
And guess what? I'm here to tell you there is no Illinois football bandwagon. The program has sucked for nearly two decades. How the hell do you start a bandwagon if the team is never worth a damn? Quite literally, there is no bandwagon to jump on. Sure, the Illini have had a couple bowl bids here and there, but they haven't made back-to-back postseason appearances since I was in high school. That's pathetic, given that they let 6-6 teams into bowls nowadays.
I get sick of these people who lecture me about how "our student-athletes deserve your support." Baloney. Why do they deserve my support? Because they get blown out every game? Illinois hasn't been competitive in any of its five losses. They aren't entertaining to watch. They embarrass their university with inept and stupid play. These games are terrible. Maybe some of these apologists live in a world where intentions are more important than results. In my world, results matter.
I think it's very important that our "student-athletes" learn that there are consequences in the real world when you don't get results. In the case of this football season, the consequences for the lack of results are a loss of support from alumni, students and fans -- and the possibility that the entire coaching staff will be fired.
I don't feel sorry for these "student-athletes." They are being given a great education at a world-class university in exchange for their alleged ability to play football on Saturdays. Given their poor performance on the gridiron, they are basically stealing from the university community. They don't deserve anymore than what they're getting.
There are six games left in the season, and I promise that one of these three outcomes will happen: 1) Zook and the boys will get this turned around and win some games, or 2) Zook will guide this program to last place for the fifth time in seven years and get fired, or 3) JB will cancel his season tickets.
If neither 1 nor 2 happens, option 3 will come to pass. I guarantee it. It's time for some accountability in this Illini football program. If Zook goes 1-11 or 2-10 and somehow keeps his job, I call for ALL Illinois fans to boycott Memorial Stadium in 2010. It's time to send a message. The University of Illinois strives for academic excellence. The athletic department, and specifically the football program, should be striving for excellence as well.