Even though the majority of the uniforms have leaked, tonight is still going to be pretty exciting. Apparently there are more surprises to come, which I'm always up for. Well ... good surprises. Unsurprisingly, a lot of questions this week are about the rebranding. Luckily, the mailbag gets published before the official grand unveiling so I get to opine in advance. Hooray me!
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.
Now, Tom got a three day head start on this questions (if you aren't reading his mailbags over at the Chicago Homer, you should start) so I'll answer it in a different manner. Also, sorry to everyone for starting this week's mailbag off with a White Sox question (I'm not actually sorry, I lack the ability to feel genuine remorse). Oso is currently sitting at two multihomer games. For simplicity's sake, we'll say he hits 30 homeruns this season. Feels realistic enough, right? So that gives us 26 homeruns to work with for the rest of the year. I'd put the over under at 4.5 and I'd probably take the under. Multihomer games are hard. Barry Bonds had 10 in his record setting season. 4.5 feels like a solid place to put the line.
I'm clearly missing a key reference here, so yes. Mike, if you could explain what's going on in the comments, that would be wonderful. The only off field Martez Wilson incident I remember was him being stabbed outside of FUBAR and one of my future roommates being the guy to call 911. It was an immense source of pride for Bobby because Bobby was (is?) just that kind of guy.
Pancakes or waffles #AskTCR— joshua (@Joshbauer_) April 14, 2014
I feel like I may have answered this before. I do seem to get a lot of breakfast related questions sent my way, which is funny because I don't usually eat breakfast. My vet school breakfast consists of a can of Pepsi and a multivitamin (unless it's donut Friday). But the answer is waffles. Pancakes are a lot less of a hassle to make, but they have that small window in which they're wonderful right before they go to pot from being too soggy. Waffles don't really struggle with that issue. If I'm eating breakfast though, I'm ordering some sort of skillet that has chorizo and hot peppers though.
An email from Scott-
Suppose as part of the Nike rebranding, Illinois was going to change to an animal mascot team name for the school. And you were put in charge or picking the lucky animal. What awesome critter do you select? (And if you say tiger, I'm never visiting this site again.)
While the tiger is my favorite carnivore, I don't really enjoy the idea of a school using such a generic nickname. Look at the SEC. They have multiple bulldogs and tigers. It's lame. And even though I grew up a (Plainfield) Wildcat and am one (KSU) again, I have no problem admitting that such a generic name is pretty lame.
I think there should be two rules when it comes to naming your team after an animal. You don't have to obey both, but you have to obey at least one.
1. The animal has to be native to or represent your state (think of both Oregons, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, TCU).
2. The animal has to be original, thus making it awesome (the above listed examples and the UMKC Kangaroos).
If we're going with rule two, I'm quite partial to rhinoceroses. Big death tanks that move surprisingly fast and are generally hard to kill? Sign me up.
But I prefer rule one. Copperhead snakes are venomous little shits, but they're only in southern Illinois. It's a damn shame NDSU is already the bison, because that would be wonderful for our plains state. No, I'm going to have to go with something that fits the color scheme, can be found statewide, and has an entire river valley names after it that runs through nine heavily populated counties: the Illinois Foxes. It would allow the team to stay orange, it's a predator native to the state, and an animal renowned for being wily and crafty. It's pretty perfect.
Nope. Even before seeing the leaked unis, of which I thoroughly enjoy the blue ones, my answer still would have been no. Fling out that dear old flag of orange and blue! We need blue! No, to me the color jersey to eliminate would be the white.
This isn't the olden days when teams traveled by trains and jerseys were hard to get clean so you wore white at home and lived with it. We have two main colors and they are both fantastic. I can't abandon the blue jerseys. That being said the new silver basketball jersey and the white football jersey both look fantastic, so I guess we can keep them around a little while longer.
I've made no secret of my intense love for the new block I shield logo that is prominently displayed on the soccer jerseys and appears in smaller form on the other sports' ones as well. I mean, look at it! It's beautiful!
And do you know what it reminds me of a rather great deal?
WHO IS THE MORE PATRIOTIC TEAM NOW, IOWA? WHERE IS YOUR RICKY STANZI NOW?!?!?!
But yeah, if we're fully buying into that rebrand with an outlandish new mascot, let's bring on the copyright infringement suits from Marvel and Disney right now and unveil Captain Illini. Swap out the red for orange, replace the star with that Block I shield and we've got us a hit. Someone with more photoshop skills than I, please send us that image.
Two questions from our Facebook page
1. "Marvel or DC?" from Daniel Mark Morrow
2. "Is Coach Groce doing anything towards recruiting Tacko Fall?" by Randy Jack Hardwood
Before answering the questions, I guess we should announce that we'll now accept #AskTCR questions from the FB page too. Just kind of seems right.
And question one seemed like a very logical continuation from my last question. I haven't really kept up with much since the Final Crisis in DC, but before that I was always more of a DC guy than Marvel. Other than Black Panther, Hawkeye, and the Vision, there just aren't a lot of Marvel superheroes I legitimately enjoy reading that much. When I was in full on dork mode in high school, the Justice League books were amazing and regularly featured my two favorite superheros: the Flash (Wally West version) and Martian Manhunter. But like I said, that was before all the bizarre rebooting. The DC cartoons tend to be a lot better as well. Go back and watch the old X-Men cartoons from our youth. They are bad.
But when it comes to the movies, Marvel wins in a landslide. Other than the recent Batman movies, name another good DC movie. It's pretty hard to do. Marvel consistently cranks out above average flicks with seeming ease, though some of the sequels do wind up being a bit undercooked. And while I much prefer the Justice League to the Avengers, the Avengers make for a much better movie. It's hard to make people believe Batman belongs fighting side by side with gods and aliens in a two hour movie.
As for Tacko Fall, dear lord is that man tall. For those of you who haven't heard of him, Tacko is a 7'5" high school junior from the Senegal. It would be pretty fun to watch a guy that size play because it would be fun to watch a guy that size do almost anything. That being said, he just learned how to play basketball this past year. He has a long way to go before major programs start recruiting him. I haven't heard anything about Groce making inroads, but that doesn't mean he hasn't.
Another popular question that I will continue to answer in the same way: Lunt. Lunt, Lunt, Lunt, Lunt, Lunt. I feel bad for Aaron Bailey that he isn't likely to become the man running the offense here, but with Bill Cubit in charge of things, I want the guy with the best arm taking the most snaps.
I feel even worse for O'Toole though. He's the kind of player who may have done great at a MAC school with four years of consistent offensive gameplanning from a coach like Cubit. He didn't get that here at Illinois and so we'll never know if he could have been something bigger.
Congratulations on your victory by default. We're all going out to celebrate with drinks. And without you.
I wanted to give Matt his moment in the sun because he was the first person to send us the leaked font before the floodgates opened up last night. As for my opinion? I really like it. As WilliamsForThreeeeeeee pointed out earlier, it seems like the word "Illini" is sneakily incorporated into the "Illinois" and I'm a huge fan of logo trickery like that. It's unique and not terrible and that's the best I could have hoped for going into this.
If you could make your own Orange Krush chant, what would it be? #AskTCR— Will Andresen (@mandresen11) April 15, 2014
I'm not really the type to take up chanting at sporting events (ILL-INI and "Na Na Na Na" excluded), so I don't think I'm the right type for creating something on that level. I can have a tendency to get rather mean and I don't think we need an army of 18-22 year olds becoming my voice. That would be terrifying.
Yup. Don gets two questions answered. Why? Because he was my high school gym leader and neighbor growing up (and an all-around good guy). Oh, Juice and his never quite mastering of the nuances that come with the option. With his official title being Director of Alumni and Former Player Relations, I think he's a pretty perfect hire for that job. There were definitely better players on the team during his tenure, but that was Juice's team and if anyone is still connected to all the other recent alumni, it's Juice. So he'll be in charge mostly of making sure there are always recent alumni on the sideline at the games and making appearances with the current team to impart wisdom.
The other (and more important thing) he brings to the table? We now have a recruiter who knows what it's like being the top recruit in the Chicago Public League. Juice knows what they went through and how to handle it. That's a pretty nice ace to have up your sleeve. Will his presence instantly fix Chicago recruiting? No. Do I think it will help a good deal? Yup.
As for the ABC game, I noticed a great deal of complaining and hand-wringing from other fanbases about it. My response? Has anyone looked at the other Big Ten games on the docket for that day? It's a bad lot to draw from: Indiana at Michigan, Maryland at Penn State, Rutgers at Wisconsin, Northwestern at Iowa, and Purdue at Nebraska. I'm sorry, but none of those games are demonstrably better than the Illini game that night.
Michigan is down and Indiana is Indiana. Maryland is new and not great while no one knows what to expect from Penn State now. Rutgers finished 6-7 in a conference that has UConn, SMU, Temple, Memphis, and USF. Northwestern isn't going to be good this year and no one outside of Evanston or Iowa cares about that "rivalry". And then there is Purdue. So the Illini win by default because they're playing the best team in the conference that plays that night. Ohio State needs the exposure in November and we're there. Let's hope it's 2007 all over again.
I love Otto, so I would be more than okay with it.
I grouped these two together for obvious reasons. We'll start with the realistic expectations for next year. Next year should result in a return to the tournament and something like 22 wins before getting there. The growing pains should mostly be gone, the team is almost all John Groce players, and Rayvonte Rice will be healthy the entire season. Where does that put the team in conference rankings? I see both Michigans, Ohio State, and Wisconsin as still above us. Iowa and Nebraska fall back to earth a bit. So that puts us around the 5th or 6th place area, which feels pretty right. As for what the expectation should be for the team five years from now? Man, that is far too hard to predict. I'd like John Groce to have landed at least two five stars by then and a couple Sweet Sixteen trips, but that is too far in the future to predict.
I have no issues with Tennessee fans. Bruce Pearl is long gone, so they're just another orange school that we don't play. My interactions with Vols fans have generally been limited to three experiences. I went to a Vols football game against Kentucky in high school (my first college football game experience) and it was amazing. Had a blast and laughed about how often they played "Rocky Top". The second would be the pretty girl I went to high school with who still talks to me every now and then and cheers for the Vols. So she gets an okay vote in my book. And then I know a couple from out here at vet school that are Tennessee grads and they're pretty enjoyable too. So based on personal experiences, I can't agree with you there.
That might just be the longest #AskTCR mailbag I've put together to date. Thank you for all the great questions and I look forward to more next week.