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#AskTCR: Happy Birthday Mailbag


Mascot birthdays are incredibly fun.
Mascot birthdays are incredibly fun.
Tasos Katopodis

No, it's not the #AskTCR mailbag's birthday. Well, not officially. That would be three days from now. But we run on Wednesdays, so this is as close as it will get.

Today is my birthday. To think, five years ago I was waking up at 602 E. Stoughton, hungover as shit from having to drink too many prairie fires since I had finally turned 21. Now I wake up and answer internet questions from people I've (mostly) never met. What a life! Thank you to everyone who used the hashtag to wish me a happy birthday or submit a question. I'll remember you all when I'm drinking too many whiskey gingers at pub trivia tonight.

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. 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.


Technically, I'm not supposed to give you any advice because never having met your dog, we lack a true VCPR (veterinarian-client-patient relationship), but hey, I'm not actually a vet yet. How much time is she spending monitoring 24/7, Scout, and Rivals? Have you noticed carpal tunnel in her front paws? Has she started barking "Isaac"? If so, you should be concerned.


My fandom wants to say yes. I would love nothing more than to believe that. But I don't think so. Not this year, at least. I do think we'll be top 40, but I just don't see the pieces to make this a top 25 team unless Leron Black bursts onto the scene as some sort of monster and Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby show that the year off did nothing but make them into Kyle Korvers. If we do sneak into the top 25, I expect no higher than 20.


An email from Scott-

I'm going on my first cruise in a couple weeks, seven days on a big ship in the Caribbean for a good friend's wedding.  Any advice/recommendations/warnings for a freshman cruiser?  And now that I typed that sorta-clever phrasing, most of the groups of friends have gone on cruises before and I've seen a lot of pictures and heard a lot of stories.  Does that qualify me as a redshirt-freshman cruiser?

I've never been on a cruise either, so I can't really help you much there. Other than a couple trips to various provinces of Canada, I've stuck to the United States pretty hard. Hell, it's been over a decade since I've seen an ocean. So hopefully some other Champaigniacs can help you out.

As for if it makes you a redshirt-freshman cruiser, I'd have to say no. I think a redshirt-freshman cruiser would be someone who got sick and was confined to their cabin the entire trip. A JUCO transfer would be someone used to cigarette boats or houseboats.


Unfortunately, nothing too major ever seems to happen sportswise on my birthday, at least not with teams I care about. The Blackhawks lost on my birthday in 2010 and last year. And while the Bulls beat the Jazz on it in 1997, I was nine and didn't know anything about basketball.

I'd probably have to go with the White Sox game from six years ago. Walkoff wins are always enjoyable and it's actually the last time Paul Konerko hit a walkoff homerun. So I guess we'll say that.


I think so. Also, where the hell is Mike? He hasn't asked this question in forever and I'm concerned he has died. Mike, yell out to us.


Another question from Scott, because I can-

"Well, the Indiana coach failed to crack the top 50. And that’s surprising -- maybe."

How awesome is it that Tom Crean did not make ESPN's top 50 college basketball coaches?

I'd be able to enjoy it a little more if John Groce was on the list. I don't like Crean at all, but it seems a bit odd to completely omit him from the top 50 coaches list and put Bruce Weber on it. Indiana had a down year last season, but won the conference in 2012-13 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in both 2012 and 2013. Crean's record over the past three seasons is 73-31 with two Sweet Sixteen runs. Weber? 64-36 with zero tournament wins and a firing. If Crean isn't on the list, Bruce shouldn't even be an honorable mention.


Every time you submit a question, I spend a good three or four minutes thinking about how cool your name is. Literally every damn time.

But back to your question. If his final two comes down to Illinois or Villanova, I don't see how it couldn't have an influence on his decision. I don't know the magnitude it would have, but you'd have to think it would affect his thought process at least a little bit. I wouldn't say that the winner is guaranteed Jalen Brunson though.


I really like this question. First, we'll have to do a reasonable wins progression. So say he gets up to 6-6 this year, pre-bowl game. That saves his job. Then he'd need to crank out a few 9-10 win seasons consecutively to convince other schools that he didn't pull of the Ron Zook/Ron Turner magic fluke Illini season that we seem to have once a decade or so.

I think he'd need at least three seasons at that level before a bigger school would be comfortable offering him the job. And I think we're at least two or three seasons away from potentially reaching that level, if everything breaks right. So in this hypothetical scenario, I'd say it would take at least seven seasons before he would leave for a bigger program. I don't know that he would want to at that point though. Illinois would be able to shell out for one hell of an extension and he'd be the man who finally woke the sleeping giant.


An email from Shane-

What are you banned from and what did you do to earn it?

Who has a more promising coaching career, Jason Kidd or Steve Kerr? Also, why isn't Luc Longley doing local commercials for Chicagoland car dealerships and stuff? Australian accent, tall, ginger dude who everyone older than 22 from the area would recognize instantly. That's a gold mine.

This may come as a disappointment, but I've never actually been banned from anything or anyplace. It's not for a lack of stupid actions or decisions. I've only ever been thrown out of two bars (Brother's for trying to buy beer as a minor and Joe's on Weed Street for trying to refill an empty beer bottle from the tap). Other than swearing at a girl who gave me a concussion for three straight minutes in a softball game, I'm generally affable to my opponents. I had to lay low from a certain bar out here after taking too many of their bartenders out on dates in one month, but I guess that's the closest I've come to a ban and that was self-imposed.

Even without the Chicago Bulls connection, I'd say Kerr. He was removed from the game longer than Kidd before coming back as a coach and even spent time as a general manager before picking up the clipboard. I don't know that he'll be a great coach, but I think he'll be better than Kidd.

I'm also surprised more members of the amazing 90's Bulls teams don't seem to have massive local businesses. Those guys could be complete business morons and still make a killing because so many meatballs would line up to be able to say they purchased their car from a member of the only real Chicago sports dynasty.


That really depends on how the rest of the season has gone. If it's the first bad loss of the year, it's easy enough to shrug off. Most teams have at least one shitty loss per season, ours would have just happened to have been on a really big stage. A week later, the news cycle would have changed and things would be fine.

If we're already struggling at that point, it raises a different narrative entirely. You'll start hearing the more vocal fringes of the fanbase scream for Mike Thomas and John Groce's heads, because those people are never happy. Things would be worse if this season had conference champion expectations, but since it doesn't, the fallout wouldn't be too massive.


Remember when you were little and you would ask for things that were totally unrealistic because you had no concept of what you could actually get? I think finally realizing what is and is not feasible from birthdays and Christmas is a pretty important part of growing up. That's why you won't see me wishing for a National Championship in either major sport. You never got that pony you wanted. Let's keep things realistic.

1. I want the football team to make it to a bowl game. This doesn't really feel like too much to ask with how much the offense improved last year. It doesn't even have to be a good bowl game. I just want the players to get that experience and the extra month of approved practice that comes with it.

2. I want the basketball team to make the tournament and win a game. Groce already has one NCAA tournament win with the Illini. Let's double that. A Sweet Sixteen berth would be wonderful, but after a year of missing out entirely, I'm happy with being in the final 32.

3. I want a five star recruit for the basketball team. It's been far too long since we've had one and that needs to change. It would cause a nice little chain reaction. Groce has already started rebuilding the Chicago pipelines and that has been huge. Now he just needs to net his first whale and then it will only get easier to do so after that.

4. I want David Edwards, Quinn Oseland, and Flynn Nagel to just commit already. We all know they're coming here. Verbal so I can stop being anxious about it and we can have an even sexier class before the fall arrives.

5. I want things to be interesting. Bad seasons make for hard writing, but dull seasons make for impossible writing. Ideally, the teams will both be good and it will be easy to keep cranking out articles for you wonderful people. But failing that? At least make things weird.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Mark Primiano on Twitter at @SBN_UGod.