Something like 25 months ago now, Tom Fornelli emailed me asking if I'd like to write for a new Illini site he was launching with SB Nation. He suggested the name The Champaign Room, created a rough sketch of our now (in)famous logo, and we hit the ground running. Today is the site's second birthday. Site managers and writers have come and gone, but two things remain constant: our football team is terrible and I will continue to write about them until my fingers stop working. So I want to thank Tom for getting this ball rolling and all of you for continuing to visit every day.
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 email@example.com. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll 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.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR what 4 current illinois football players would you pick for a dunk contest and who would the judges be?— Austin McDowell (@austin_mcd97) October 15, 2014
I'll start with the judges. Since I'm picking the roster, I will be one of the three judges. This is my playground and I will rule over it with an iron fist. Dee Brown will be judge number two because you can't really have a fun Illini basketball event without him. Just wouldn't be proper. And whose the third judge, well guess what Austin it's you. It was you all along.
My four contestants would be Aaron Bailey, V'Angelo Bentley, Mike Dudek, and Jihad Ward. Bailey, Bentley, and Dudek just strike me as the kind of athletes who can get away with playing any sport, they just have that much raw talent. I would be legitimately shocked if any of the three couldn't dunk. I want Jihad Ward there for entirely different reasons. I want to watch a backboard explode and I think the human monster known as Ward gives us the best chance of seeing that happen. His dunks would be primal viciousness compared to the flowing artistry of the other contestants. Contrast is a beautiful thing.
@Champaign_Room How many plays will Aaron Bailey get Saturday? #AskTCR— Eric Loy (@WDANEricLoy) October 20, 2014
Very happy to see Eric getting in on the fun. I sat right by him for the Purdue game and we had a nice chat after the stadium emptied out. In an ideal world, Bailey should be taking every single snap at QB until Wes Lunt returns. Maybe bring in Reilly O'Toole for a trick play or two, but he should be taking no more than 10% of the total snaps. Earlier this week, Tim Beckman said both will be playing this Saturday, but who knows if that's actually true. It could just be that he's trying to keep Jerry Kill's Gophers honest and make them prepare for O'Toole, but it's not like that takes much of a gameplan. Unless Bailey gets hurt, I want him out there all day. It's time to see what he can do.
@Champaign_Room Shit. Sorry. Getting married Saturday evening. Should I watch the game or will it ruin my day? #AskTCR— Andy Leonatti (@Leonatti) October 20, 2014
Why are you getting married on a Saturday in the fall? What kind of monster are you? And on Homecoming! But I guess the answer depends on what kind of sports fan you are. Are you like me and able to watch your team play like crap and then go on and have the rest of your Saturday be just a Saturday? If so, watch the game. Even when we suck, you only get 12 games a year. They should be enjoyed.
If you're the more emotional type of sports fan, do your soon-to-be wife a favor and pick another way to spend your morning/early afternoon. You're about to have the (hopefully) happiest day/night of your life and 20 years from now you won't remember the final score of that morning's game. You'll remember how beautiful your wife looked and how much fun the parts of the reception you remember actually were. Congratulations and enjoy the hell out of your Saturday.
An email from Scott-
Quick confession, I don't watch a lot of college football other than Illinois since I'm much more of a basketball guy. But this weekend while at a friend's house I watched quite a bit of the Notre Dame/Florida State game. Is there anything I can do to prepare myself for the extreme drop in quality that will be watching the next Illinois game? I'm concerned that I might suffer some sort of decompression-sickness-like condition after watching the Illini give up 200 rushing yards in the first half. I just want to be safe.
It's always a good idea to avoid getting the bends. Bubbles in the bloodstream sound all kinds of awful. Here's what you need to do to avoid that. There is a football game on ESPNU Thursday night. It's going to be hideous. Watch it. UConn has to travel down to the mythical state known as East Carolina and get absolutely throttled by the Pirates. Watching the Huskies attempt to fight an opponent five weight classes above them should prepare you for Illini football. If you're worried that might be too much, too soon, wait a night and watch Oregon play against Cal. The amount of offense in that game will make a 200 rushing yard first half seem totally normal.
#AskTCR when will we have a consistent winning football program? During my lifetime or that of my kids, grand kids or great grand kids?— Andy George (@MrOrangenblue) October 20, 2014
Well it will definitely happen during my lifetime, on account of I cannot die. Can't guarantee the same for the rest of you though. In all honesty, it's all going to hinge on the coach. College football and basketball coaches probably have the most impact on their team's successes and failures out of all head coaches in all the sports since they're essentially the general manager as well as the head coach.
Look at what Jerry Kill has accomplished in his short time at Minnesota. He inherited a 3-9 team and had them in a bowl game his second year. Third year? Even better bowl game. Fourth year? A better bowl game once more with an actual shot at the conference championship game. If you told me five years ago that the Gophers would be in contention for the Big Ten title again before the Illini, I would have laughed you out of the room. The right coach can make all the difference. We just haven't found that coach in a long time.
@Champaign_Room Do you think we live in a universe, or multiverse? #AskTCR— Jim Vainisi (@JVainisi005) October 20, 2014
In my younger and more solipsistic days, I used to insist that we lived in a Markcentric universe and that there was no guarantee that people existed before I met them. The idea that there might be a parallel universe in which we're all Northwestern fans is fucking terrifying.
@Champaign_Room So what's the plan for this Saturday? Drink heavily? Turtle? A combination of the two? #AskTCR— Ben Dawson (@BenjaminJDawson) October 20, 2014
Two old friends are coming to town to visit and I rocked the absolute hell out of my exam yesterday, so there will be a good amount of drinking once the game is over. As mentioned above, I'm not one to really let sports affect my day. But Saturday will be here soon enough and people will be here to enjoy the weekend. My oatmeal stout is finally ready to drink and I still have 1.5 bottles of Malort to trick people into drinking. Gonna be fun times.
@Champaign_Room #askTCR What are some of the best TCR moments over the years? Happy Birthday!!— Bryce (@OrangeBlueCraze) October 20, 2014
The founding of the site, the times we've been press credentialed, and the Indiana upset all rank pretty high for me. My favorite moment by far is still the time we all received pants in the mail. That will never stop being hilarious and weird. I still have not worn them, but they make me laugh every time I see them in my closet.
@Champaign_Room You are sitting at a table with Pat Narduzzi. What's your hard sell for coaching the Illini? Why should he say yes? #AskTCR— Jeff (@jjhparker) October 21, 2014
It's time for him to prove that it hasn't just been Mark Dantonio's systems and schemes that have made those defenses so successful. Narduzzi has worked under Dantonio for the past decade and there are some (crazy) folks who actually believe that Narduzzi isn't the reason the Spartans defense is a buzzsaw of destruction. So I say come to Illinois, a program currently mired in sub-mediocrity. We all know you can get recruits here. We know that the fanbase will back the hell out of a good Illini football team. He'd be given the chance to become the first Illini football head coach to put up a record above .500 in 20 some odd years. We know he wants to make the jump and we know he wants to stay in the Midwest. We're the best game in town.
Why? #AskTCR— Mike Zagorski (@mzagorskijr) October 21, 2014
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