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Lincoln Logs: An Introduction

Lincoln Logs is an 11-part series from The Champaign Room's Brandon Birkhead explaining how the University of Illinois can go about building a winning football program.


Robert from A Lion Eye, one of the best Illini blogs, always said he is one of only seventeen Illini fans who care more about football than baseball. Robert and I have a lot in common. We both have attended the University of Illinois (I'm current, he's long graduated), we both write about the Illini on the internet, and we are both from Southern Illinois. We both also happen to be in this group of seventeen fans who care about the Illini football team more than the basketball team.

Furthermore, we agree whole wholeheartedly on one very important issue. It let's me know I'm not crazy, and that I'm not the only one.

We both believe that the Illinois Fighting Illini can become a solid football program that is consistently around the 7-8 win mark.

It seems impossible. The Illini have been one of the worst Big Ten teams over the last decade, and are currently on a 14-game Big Ten losing streak and finished one of the worst seasons in the history of Illinois football last season.

But, yet, I believe.

I believe because it has happened before. Recently Boise State came out of nowhere to become a contender at the national stage, upsetting the Oklahoma Sooners in one of the best games ever. Nevada also did it with the innovative pistol formation innovated by coach Chris Ault. Two schools in the Big Ten, Iowa and Wisconsin, were able to climb out of football purgatory to become more than solid programs

Mostly, I believe because I have a plan on how to do it. I have a road map for building a successful football program at the University of Illinois.

It can be done here, and more importantly, it should be done.

Illinois has some of the most legendary figures in the history of football. The best player ever (Red Grange), the best linebacker ever (Dick Butkus) and one of the best coaches ever (George Halas) all were Illini. Illinois also happens to be a school in a major conference with unique access to a solid recruiting ground in Chicago, and the rest of the Big Ten.

There is not a reason the Illini shouldn't be a solid football program. Yet they aren't because of severe mismanagement by the athletic administration and the coaches that were hired. Illinois football is in hell, but we can climb back out. Failure isn't fatal. We can do this.

We can build a program.

With this series, that will last a few weeks, I will lay out my plan for rebuilding the football program at Illinois. At each stop I will also remind everyone why my ideas are not unreasonable, and why they would work. I will start with scheduling first, and I will move on from there.

These Lincoln Logs, as I will call them, are useless by themselves. If I gave you one log, you cannot build everything. But if I give you multiple logs, and they are put together in such a way, you can build something. Each log is useless, except for its purpose in working with the other logs to build a program.

I would like to encourage you to keep an open mind while reading this series, and also remind you that many of your questions will be answered by my future post along the way. It's going to be fun. Buckle up those internet chairs.

Go Illini!

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Birkhead on Twitter at @BrandonBirkhead.

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