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Illinois Football and Absolute Zero

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It's not hyperbole to say this winter is the most important offseason in program history.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Chemistry was never one of my strongest subjects. Not in high school when Mr. Hill's never-ending monotone ramblings conspired to get me detention for falling asleep and certainly not in college when I sat in Noyes Hall quietly hoping to get just enough questions right that some vet school would overlook the hit my GPA would take (one did). But there was one concept that always amazed me and that is absolute zero.

For our non-science folks, absolute zero is literally the coldest possible temperature. Enthalpy and entropy reach their minimum values and solid matter reaches its lowest internal energy possible. It's essentially death as nothing can happen.

If Illinois extends Bill Cubit this winter, we're going to come closer to seeing a college football program reach absolute zero than ever before.

That's not to say Illinois will be the 128th team in Division 1. They aren't.

But if the University of Illinois wants to pretend that it actually gives half a shit about the football program, removing the interim from Cubit's title exposes that for the lie we've always told ourselves it wasn't.

Illinois athletics has always wanted to have it both ways. They want to have competitive sports programs without selling out the soul of the university and they want to do that without having to pay realistic prices for the coaches. It's not realistic and it's a huge part of why attendance and fan interest have absolutely cratered over the past decade. If the school isn't going to pretend it cares about the program, why the hell should the fans?

Illinois outplayed Minnesota today. They outgained the Gophers too. But Illinois lost because the coaching was absolutely dreadful. Bill Cubit is not a good coach. His time at Western Michigan showed this and his time as the interim head coach at Illinois is showing it too.

Before the season, we all said and accepted that a 5-7 season would cost this coaching staff their jobs. A 6-7 season had a damn good chance of that same result. And minus one Tim Beckman, that's exactly where we're sitting a week before the 12th game. Does Cubit deserve to get graded on a curve? No.

Illinois has too long of a history of not knowing when to cut their losses and move on. It happened with Ron Turner. It happened with Ron Zook. It happened with Bruce Weber. It happened with Tim Beckman. They can't afford to let it happen with Cubit.

Extending Bill Cubit is more or less raising a giant white flag over Memorial Stadium with a massive middle finger sewn on it. It's pissing on the fanbase and not even pretending that it's rain they feel drenching them. Illinois football may not have reached its nadir resultswise, but it's standing in the middle of a lake covered in rotten ice when it comes to getting fans to care about it. One wrong move and apathy will swallow what's left of it.