The downward spiral/polar vortex tag team continue to make life miserable in Illini land, but we've got the metaphorical fire to keep you warm on these slowly lengthening days: #AskTCR. So sit back and relax (or don't if you're at work, please don't get fired) and enjoy this week's mailbag.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
What event is #AskTCR looking forward to the most during the upcoming Sochi games?— Gary Guidi (@BisonGary) January 23, 2014
Even with the ugliest sweaters this side of Calgary in the late-90s/early-00s, Olympic hockey is always near the top of the list. That being said, the two events I wind up being drawn to like an incredibly idiotic moth to a sexy, sexy flame are curling and skeleton.
Skeleton for the inherent danger and insanity of throwing oneself face first down on a mountain on a wee little sled at breakneck speed and because it was invented when I was in junior high. I still love and remember you, Jimmy Shea. I have a much harder time explaining how curling manages to do this to me every four years. The easy explanation would be that I fall in love with every pretty female athlete ever and the captain of the Scottish curling team stole my heart four years ago. But that's only a half truth. There's something engrossing about people running around on ice screaming while throwing giant rocks and furiously sweeping that just suckers me in for hours at a time. This is why I can't do drugs.
Chris Patton (@chrispatton_33) January 27, 2014
I am kind of in love with this question. Even though I don't tend to watch late night programming because I'm either studying or drinking, I still know enough about it to feel comfortable with my answers. And since you asked my favorite question of the week, I'll answer for both basketball and football.
Best football coach as a late night host might be the hardest pick. I'm tempted to go with Tim Beckman just because his manic energy and constant shouting, but I don't think the show would last more than a season (think Russell Brand's show on FX). So I might just have to say Bo Pelini. He has that obvious edge and could fly off the handle at any minute, but he knows what he's doing. He wins mostly by default because the rest of the coaches have little charisma/energy/life force. Worst football coach for the job? Urban Meyer is a tempting choice, but I think Kirk Ferentz wins by a nose. He's essentially the Jay Leno of the conference as is: living mostly off a successful past and somehow seems to constantly get massive contracts despite everyone at least kind of hating his style.
Who would think both bests would be from Nebraska? Fans of personality, that's who. Tim Miles actually manages to get people excited about Nebrasketball, which is practically impossible. Throw him in the Jimmy Fallon slot for a few years and watch him blossom. Worst? It's a shame Bill Carmody isn't around anymore, because it would easily be him. Instead, the choice is Tom Izzo. This is obviously not a knock on his skills as a coach, but would you really want to stay up late to watch Izzo interview celebrities and musicians? It would be terrible.
@Champaign_Room What effect does the basketball losing streak have on out 2014 bowl chances?— Mike Zagorski (@mzagorskijr) January 27, 2014
Even though you forgot the hashtag, there is no way I couldn't include this. I officially feel like I have replaced Tom in the mailbag. My first bowl game question! It's like hitting puberty/getting confirmed/losing your virginity/graduating high school all at once!
I think it has every possible effect on our 2014 bowl chances. Every. Possible. Effect.
Email from Scott Stein-
In my five years on campus, Illinois classes were canceled for a single half-day because of extreme cold weather. And I had already walked across campus for an 8am physics lecture. What would be the best way for me to criticize today's students without sounding like the typical crotchety old man yelling at kids to get off the lawn?
I'd recommend angrily shaking your fist while looking rueful, but you didn't want to go down that road. So I would just say hateful stares and emailing your favorite Illini site, which you've already done both of. Now go chop some danged firewood. It'll be nightfall soon.
Pretty sure this is directed at something I said a week ago, to the effect of "If you're under the age of 45, you have no memories of a world without the DH. Get over it."
Baseball is my favorite sport, despite the fact I was never good at it. I love playing it, I love watching it, I used to spend far too much time writing about it over at South Side Sox.
You know what sucks to watch? Pitchers hit. You know what else sucks to watch? Pitchers run the bases. Other than the occasional hilarious moment, it's awful and a good risk for injury. The pitchers don't bat in college. They don't bat in the minors. And then after years of not batting regularly, they are magically expected to be good enough at hitting to not look like an army of Pete Kozmas? No thank you. You can have your double switches and "strategy", I'll happily watch the Jim Thomes of the world do it better.
Soft shell all the way and twice on Tuesdays. If I wanted to eat something messy and crunchy, I'd order nachos. Wrap my deliciousness up in a nice soft tortilla and hand it over before I eat your hand.
Hopefully soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Illini become one of the first schools to follow the Northwestern players' wonderful idea. Even if you don't think college players deserve a cut of the giant profit pie (which isn't at all what this is about), you have to agree that they deserve better treatment, protection from injuries, and at least the same level of freedom that coaches do when it comes to transferring (at least once). And if you disagree that schools should be responsible for paying the total cost of the injured athletes' medical bills (if the player is injured during a game or training session), I really don't think anything anyone says is going to convince you otherwise. The sports leagues are pretty much the last legitimate racket left in America. I'm all for anything that helps put a stop to that.
Keep in mind, I'm only 25. So while I know that Red Grange and Dick Butkus are football gods and Illini legends, I have a hard time claiming players who either retired before my parents were born or retired before my parents graduated high school as my favorites.
In football, David Diehl will always be my favorite Illini for helping out with fundraising last spring. The other two heads in that troika would be Kurt Kittner and Arrelious Benn. Kittner was the first exciting Illini quarterback that I can actually remember watching and I've made no secret of my love for Benn, stemming mostly from the months we were neighbors and his demeanor around campus.
In basketball, it's Deron Williams. Dee Brown is a great choice, but Deron was my favorite for reasons I'm still not sure why. I like point guards and I like three pointers, so it seems like a pretty solid match.
This is the first week since taking over #AskTCR that I've had more questions to pick from than I could possibly answer and keep the article from turning into an overflowing essay, so I just wanted to say thank you to everyone and sorry to those whose questions went unanswered. I'll try to get yours in next week if you keep submitting them.