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#AskTCR: History Lessons & Charles Matthews


He makes the best faces. Which he? Both.
He makes the best faces. Which he? Both.
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

So with Charles Matthews deciding to steal my Wednesday thunder, we decided to push this week's mailbag back to Thursday. Which means a lot of the questions I got were about if Matthews would commit. Which will make this interesting and weird. #AskTCR will return to its regularly scheduled day and time next week, unless another recruiting target decides to postblock me again.

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.

Question from Tim-

Big fan of The Champaign Room. My ask TCR question is a three parter:

1. If we land Charles Matthews does Illinois tentatively have the best recruiting class for 2015?
2. If Charles Matthews doesn't pick Illinois and does a hat fake with Illinois (or something else of that nature), could you remind Illinois fans to not tweet and/or act like dickheads a la the Cliff Alexader recruiting fiasco?
3. With John Groce's second coaching season seemingly the books, do you feel more or less confident about his hire?

I'll start by saying thank you. We are not a modest bunch and compliments are the best.

1. If Matthews had chosen Illinois, I don't know that they'd have ended with the best recruiting class for 2015 but it definitely would have been in the top 5, probably even top 3. Which ... man, that would have been something.

2. Yup. Did so in yesterday's post on lessons we've learned. Glad to see the sentiment extending to the majority of the fanbase.

3. I feel like I have to go with a little less confident. We all knew it would be a down year and Groce was likely banking on Ahmad Starks getting a waiver that would allow him to play, but it's pretty hard to quantify how much of a difference that would have made. The recruiting is still going strong, but not yet spectacular. Groce bought himself a lot of goodwill with a great first season, so I'm not worried yet. But I am paying attention.

I can't imagine the slog that a disappointing season becomes for a head coach. The amount of intensity you have to give to a slowly sinking ship would absolutely drain anyone. Groce has seemed more subdued since the Purdue incident, which makes me wonder if maybe he was told to tone things down a bit from a source above. While I never played basketball in any organized fashion other than intramurals, I know that in the sports I did play (soccer, swimming, rugby) I could not stand it when our coach was running around screaming. College basketball is an entirely different breed, but the players still know he has their backs.

The last time I regularly played a realistic basketball video game, the Seattle SuperSonics still existed and I'm pretty sure Kevin Durant wasn't in the NBA yet either. So it's been a really, really long time. But back then I would constantly make myself and sign with the Sonics because I loved the green, gold, & white jerseys. Those were the colors of every youth sport in Plainfield and I'll be damned if they didn't hardwire a love for it into my brain. I'd probably have to go with the Golden State Warriors though just so I could do nothing but shoot threes with Stephen Curry.

Email from Shane-

If you could insert a plot twist into any historic event what would it be and why?

Ray Bradbury taught me not to go back in time and play God because the consequences could be tremendous. But since you're forcing me to ignore the best thing to come out of Waukegan's advice (sorry Kristin), I suppose I must. I've actually been struggling with this question since it was emailed to me. I even finished the rest of this post and have had to come back to it. I'm trying to avoid tragedies because I wouldn't plot twist them, I'd just make them never happen. So maybe I'll a little more obscure.

The mystery of what the hell happened at the Roanoke Colony has always been fascinating to me. It's 2014 and no one has any idea what the hell happened to all the people on the island. So for my plot twist, I'm going to make what happened in 100 Bullets (one of my favorite comic series of all time) into the actual explanation for the mystery.

I don't think the increased effort to get Jalen Brunson to sign with the Illini had anything to do with Matthews' out of the blue decision that now was the time to commit. I'm pretty sure Coach Cal said something to the effect of "Hey, it's now or never" or that Matthews was worried about his stock potentially slipping more than anything. I'm not saying the Brunson hunt had nothing to do with it, as I can't possibly discount it for certain, but it really doesn't seem to be a likely culprit.

We briefly get upset and then move on to a new target.

I would love it if Brunson signed with Illinois. It would make me incredibly happy as Groce would get a top notch PG that he covets. Do I honestly see it happening? Nope. Call me a pessimist, but in a three dog fight between us and the Michigan schools, I just have a very hard time seeing Brunson in orange instead of maize. If I had to handicap the race right now, I'd say it's Big Blue out in front with us and Sparty tied but considerably behind.


A handful of years as an also-ran mediocrity put the program into more of a hole than we'd like to admit. The moderate climb back to the top is currently beginning. When the team starts winning again, the recruits will come back. But the winning needs to happen first.

An email from Scott-

Which is the funnier sounding internal organ, spleen or pancreas?

Neither. The correct answer would be either the duodenum or the jejunum. But if you want my favorite medical term relating to anatomy that I've learned, it's gubernaculum hands down. Just can't say the word without smiling or a tiny giggle. It's simply impossible.

Groce is going to land one, it's just not going to be in the 2015 class. It would have been wonderful, but it just wasn't happening with the way the team played this season. With a strong season next year, I would not be the least bit surprised if Groce makes that breakthrough in the 2016 class. As long as he continues to lock down at least a four star from the city each season, the pipeline will pay off. If Peoria would start cranking out top talents for us again soon, that would be pretty neat too.

I don't quite know why, but the random "Shaun White" at the end of this makes me laugh more than it should. I kind of want to just start inserting tangentially related names to the end of my jokes from now on.

But on the actual topic of Sochi athletes saving dogs, I wanted to write an Open Bar about it but never managed to get around to it. I don't believe I will now that the 2014 Winter Olympics have ended, so this will have to do. It bothered the hell out of me how many American Olympians decided to bring back as many puppies as they could find. I won't even go into the issues of potentially bringing back parasites and diseases that our native dog population is unaccustomed to. My main issue is that we have more homeless and shelter dogs than we know what to do with in the states already.

Is it a shame that the Sochi strays were/are likely being euthanized right now? Yes. But guess what? There are a ton of homeless animals in the very city you live in right now! If you want to make a difference, adopt one of them or donate to a local shelter (DO NOT DONATE TO THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, THEY ARE CROOKS) or spend time volunteering there. It might sound kind of jingoistic, but there's a very real pet crisis here at home and the exposure Olympians could help bring to it would be tremendous.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

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