Mike Pearson

Mike Pearson

Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: July 8, 2018

Letterman, captain, record-holder, Olympian, Hall of Famer ... Franklin Pitcher "Pitch" Johnson was all of these during a storied career that began with coach Harry Gill's Illinois track and field team.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: July 1, 2018

On May 14, the United States Supreme Court nullified a 1992 federal law that barred individual states for deciding for themselves whether to allow wagering on athletic events. If the old idiom was accurate, it was a day the University of Illinois's "Father of Athletics" George Huff rolled over in his grave.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 24, 2018

Thirty-three years ago today —June 24, 1985— longtime University of Illinois faculty representative Leslie Bryan died at the age of 85. From 1959-68, he represented the university and its faculty in the UI's relationships with the NCAA and the Big Ten, and also chaired UI's Athletic Council, the faculty's voice on issues of academic policy related to student-athletes.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 17, 2018

Jimmy Cook just might be one of the greatest Fighting Illini multi-sport athletes you've never heard of. Cook, who died on this date 69 years ago, lettered three times as a halfback and receiver on Illinois' football team, but it was as a baseball player where he made his most significant imprint.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 10, 2018

Champaign's Charlie Finn is one of those individuals who easily qualifies as an Illini "Super Fan," but the man who's celebrating his 85th birthday today has always taken his pride a couple of inches further than most.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: June 3, 2018

Can you name the former Illini star and eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer who became the Washington Redskins' first African-American player? Bobby Mitchell, who will celebrate his 83rd birthday this coming Wednesday, was the man who integrated owner George Preston Marshall's NFL franchise in 1962, at a time when the District of Columbia was the hotbed of the civil rights movement.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: May 27, 2018

Twenty-seven years ago this week — May 28, 1991 — former Illinois men's basketball star George "Jodie" Harrison was killed in an automobile accident by an intoxicated driver at the age of 44.

A standout at Streator High School, Harrison broke the Bulldogs career scoring record, then was recruited to the University of Alabama to play for the Crimson Tide.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: May 20, 2018

In 1946, when the University of Chicago eliminated its varsity football program and withdrew its membership from the Western Conference (now known as the Big Ten), Michigan State University President John Hannah began his petition for the Spartans to take Chicago’s place as the league’s 10th member.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: May 6, 2018

Third-year Illiniois football coach Lovie Smith celebrates his 60th birthday this Tuesday.

Smith played college football at the University of Tulsa for coach John Cooper, then immediately began his coaching career at his prep alma mater, Big Sandy High School in Dallardsville, Texas.

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: April 22, 2018

Forty-seven years ago today—April 22, 1971—Rick Howat became only the second Illini player named as an academic All-American, joining Dave Scholz, who was similarly honored in 1968 and '69.

Among those joining Howat on the 1971 academic All-America team were UCLA's Sidney Wicks, Kansas's Bud Stallworth and South Carolina's John Roche.