It Was A Rough Weekend For University Of Illinois Athletics
Let's run down what happened to the University of Illinois Athletic department in ascending order of sadness.
4. Illinois loses to Northwestern in football 28-10.
This one wasn't necessarily unexpected. Illinois football has been, not great, for quite some time. This season has been unfulfilling. The Illini were feeling themselves after back to back wins against Rutgers and Nebraska. They led Iowa at the half last weekend before being outplayed by the Hawkeyes in the second half and saw their record fall to 2-4. An 18 point loss to the rival Wildcats is disappointing but definitely not unexpected.
3. Illinois parts ways with head football coach Lovie Smith.
Relieved of his duties. Parts ways. Going in a different direction. Cut ties. All these words were used to describe Lovie Smith being fired as Illinois' football coach after the Northwestern loss. It was something that many thought was coming anyway, it's just kind of weird that they would cut ties with only a maximum of 2 games left on the Illini's schedule.
Everyone involved in Illini athletics has said that this was an amicable separation. One that will benefit both parties. Lovie came in and cleaned up a program that was in disarray, and now the football team can move forward. It's just odd that they did this mid-season when everyone appears to not be mad at each other.
2. Illinois basketball loses to Missouri 81-78 .
This one was depressing and a surprise. Illinois has their best basketball team in 15 years. They beat Duke so bad earlier in the week that the Blue Devils basically gave up on the season. The Illini were ranked in the top ten and are supposed to be a Final Four favorite. Then something happened on the way to Columbia, Missouri. The Braggin' Rights game is one of the biggest games of the year for Illini basketball and, as you can read Coach Underwood's comments above, the team just didn't come to play.
I wonder how many suicides he made them run at practice today. It happens to be his birthday, so maybe he took it easy on the kids. But I'm guessing he didn't. The basketball team looks to right the ship when they begin conference play against Minnesota Tuesday night.
1. Jimmy Collins passes away.
The only entry to this list that is truly tragic. Collins was a longtime assistant at the University of Illinois, coaching under fellow legend Lou Henson who also passed away earlier this year. Collins went on to be the head coach the UIC Flames and lead them to 3 tournament appearances in 14 years, quite the feat for the small school.
Collins was absolutely adored by his players and fans alike. He will definitely be missed.