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#AskTCR: Could John Groce Beat Up Mike Ditka?


Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

It's been a pretty boring week around the Illini so far, hasn't it? For the last month or we've not only had the Illini football season to prepare for and document, but we've also had a couple recruiting battles to follow with both Leron Black and Quentin Snider.

The Illini have done a lot of winning in that time as well. They've put together a record of 4-1 both on the field and on the recruiting trail in that span.

And then this week came. There's no football game to get ready for as the Illini are already on a bye, and there isn't any recruiting news to speak of. So I guess it's a good thing that the #AskTCR Mailbag is here to break up the monotony. Or at least try to. We hope.

If you'd like to see one of your questions in the mailbag next time, here's how you go about doing it.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

To this week's questions.

Now, I'm a Bears fan, and since I'm a Bears fan odds are that I would answer Mike Ditka here. Because Mike Ditka is a superhero to Bears fans. Well, sorry, I'm not one of those Bears fans. I do not worship at the altar of Ditka.

First of all, I was five years old when the Bears won the Super Bowl. I really don't have much of a memory of that team. My memory of those Bears teams were Mike Ditka deciding that Doug Flutie should be his starting quarterback and seeing Walter Payton cry on the sideline as his career was coming to an end during a playoff game at Soldier Field against the Redskins.

Frankly, I'm of the opinion that the Bears should have won multiple Super Bowls in that era, with that team, and the reason they didn't was because Mike Ditka was running things.

And John Groce would kick his ass. Though not because I don't worship Ditka. John Groce would kick Ditka's ass because John Groce is still in very good shape and Mike Ditka is currently 73 years old and hasn't lived the healthiest lifestyle.

Even if Ditka had a knockout punch to be wary of, all he'd have to do is move around for a few minutes and Ditka would be worn the hell out.

It's probably sooner than you'd think. When I was in Champaign my friends and I would organize a marathon bar crawl ever year. None of that bullshit four or five-hour shit. We went 12 hours. Well, we scheduled for 12 hours. Generally the drinking would last for at least 15, though we weren't always at a bar when it ended.

After we left one my friend still had a couple of younger brothers who were enrolled in the school, and they would carry on the tradition with us still "mentoring" them in the organization process. So for the next few years I would return for these bar crawls -- and other weekends too, but not many -- and two years after I left I already felt like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.

I was too old for that shit.

Now, I have no idea how the students on campus felt about me. I mean, I was only 24. There were plenty of grad students on campus that age or older, but they weren't at the bars because grad students aren't allowed to go out. They're kept in cages, working. But I know I didn't feel right.

I was 24. I wasn't a college kid any more. I had a full-time job. I was an adult now. Going on 12-hour bar crawls isn't something that adults should do.  I've never visited Champaign for the purpose of partying since.

As for how I felt about other people, I'd say that once you reach your mid-twenties, if you're out drinking in Champaign or Urbana, you need to be doing it in the townie bars. Not on campus. Unless you're an alum visiting town for a football game and want to check in on Kam's, or a parent visiting your kid. But if that's the case, just check the bar out. Get a beer, drink it and leave. Don't hang around.

These are college kids out drinking and when there are parent-aged adults around, independent or not, the college kid's gut instinct is to behave. And college kids out drinking aren't looking to behave. Stop fucking with their buzz and leave, old man.

The most surprising player to me has actually been Donovonn Young. I know Nate was having a fantastic season before the Washington game, but that didn't surprise me all that much because Bill Cubit has taken far less-talented quarterbacks than Scheelhaase and made them look good.

But I really expected Young to be better this season. I thought this offense was perfect for him. Now, it's not all on him, as the offensive line has done its part, but Donovonn hasn't taken advantage of chances that are there either. He's been hesitant to hit some holes and he's not making the quick decisions he needs to.

Because of that he's only rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns through three games. That puts him on pace for 512 yards on the season. He rushed for 571 last season.

Assuming the Texas, USC and now Nebraska jobs are open at the end of the season, which job is the most appealing/least appealing, and who would be good fits for those jobs? -- bakes1412

I think the most appealing job would be not Nebraska. And that's not a slam on Nebraska as much as it's me pointing out that Texas and USC are far superior gigs. As for which one is better, I guess it depends on who you are and where you want to live. But both are jobs you take hoping to retire there.

Personally I'd go with Texas because the school has a ton of money and you can basically pick and choose your recruits from one of the strongest recruiting bases in the country.

As for Nebraska, it's a good job, but I don't think it's as attractive as some people at Nebraska might think it is. Off the top of my head here are some jobs I would personally rather have than the Nebraska job: Florida State, Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford, USC, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. That's 18 other schools, which means Nebraska is probably a top 20 job. Nothing to be ashamed of, but not high enough to ensure it could lure a big-name coach to the program.

As for who would be good fits, I actually think Pat Fitzgerald would be amazing at either Texas or USC. I don't know if he'd ever leave Northwestern -- I mean, the man has already turned down feelers from Notre Dame and Michigan -- but if he did I think it would mean that the program he went to would return to glory. Because both teams have had plenty of talent in recent years, it's the coaching that's been lacking. Coaching would not be lacking with Pat Fitzgerald.

As for Nebraska, they'd need a charismatic up-and-comer. You know, Pat Fitzgerald five years ago. Because Nebraska has the facilities, the money and the fan base to be successful. What it does not have is a strong recruiting base in Nebraska, so in order to win a coach would have to convince players to leave home and come to Lincoln, Nebraska. And that's not all that easy to do.

Aaron Bailey will. Though Miles Osei should already have one touchdown pass to his name this season. Had he hit made a better throw and hit Matt LaCosse in stride on Saturday he had an easy touchdown pass. Instead he underthrew him pretty bad, and all the Illini got was a nice gain out of it.

And one more reason to love Bill Cubit.

Listen, son. That's not a gyro you've been eating. It's a pita with chicken in it. Gyros aren't made with chicken.

Will they? I don't know for sure. That's not an easy thing to predict. However, if I was giving odds to which Illinois team is most likely to win a national championship this season, I'd have to go with golf. The golf team got very close to doing it last year, after all, and fell a couple strokes short.

Wait, did I say golf? I'm sorry, I meant basketball!

My friends and I seemed to manage just fine without being members of the Krush. Now, I love the Krush, and I think it's the best student section in the country. However, joining the Krush is just not something that I would ever do. It's not who I am, and it's not who my friends were. Same with Block I.

This bird can't be caged, baby. He needs to fly free.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.