2017 was a year of change in Illinois athletics.
Here’s all of the hirings Josh Whitman made, with The Champaign Room articles announcing their hirings.
It was also a year where football didn’t meet many expectations, finishing 2-10. Whitman was forced to fire John Groce and Matt Bollant after disappointing seasons in basketball, and Kevin Hambly jumped ship to Stanford, opening the job for volleyball.
Illinois baseball missed the Big Ten tournament, and Illinois softball made it to the NCAA Tournament for another year (and Nicole Evans set every record in the book). Isaiah Martinez finally was knocked out in the NCAA Championships for wrestling — in the final round — but he’s back and ready to claim his third title.
New facilities were announced for football, soccer, track and field and more.
Kevin Anderson made the U.S. Open finals, but the Illini alum lost to Rafael Nadal in the championship. ILL - INI chants were ringing throughout the building, though.
Malcolm Hill gave a teary interview on his Senior Night following an emotional win over Michigan State, but Illinois laid an egg against Rutgers the following game to make for an NIT appearance. Chayce Crouch was benched, then Jeff George Jr. was benched, and now Cam Thomas might be benched.
Mike Dudek returned after two lost seasons to catch the first touchdown for Illinois this season, and the year ended with Tito Odenigbo throwing a flag at referee in a loss for THE HAT, and then everyone transferred.
Illinois had a better year in recruiting, featuring names like Mark Smith and Ayo Dosunmu, and football four-stars like Calvin Avery and Verdis Brown (over Mizzou).
Speaking of Missouri, Illinois can brag again, and that’s always a good thing. Trent Frazier — the next Dee Brown — took a step-back three in Jeremiah Tilmon’s face to clinch it.
Leron Black had an even better Braggin’ Rights by proposing after the game!
ICYMI: Illinois is still a #GolfSchool.
Oh, and there’s a trash can somewhere in pain.
Anyways, thank you for following The Champaign Room this year. There’s no rhyme or reason why we care so much about Illinois athletics — after all, it’s the only Power Five program without an eight-win season OR Sweet 16 appearance since 2009 — and we feel inevitable heartbreak all the time.
But in a year of change for Illinois athletics, we went through a lot of turnover inside our staff as well, attempting to bring you the best and most complete coverage possible.
We have a ton of fun things planned for 2018, including TCR and #GolfSchool merchandise and swag, more credentialed reporters and increased coverage of Olympic sports (like volleyball, softball, baseball and wrestling)!
If there’s anything we can ever do for your fandom, please let us know by messaging us on Twitter or Facebook or commenting on our articles.
Happy New Year!
The Champaign Room Site Manager