I have had a chance to be a part of the Illini Caravan that is traveling around the state of Illinois this month and have been very encouraged with the excitement that is out there for the Illini athletic program.
As we all know...it was a tough fall and winter for Illini men's basketball and football fans with 2 coaches being let go ....and lots of turmoil and speculation as once-promising seasons in both sports crash-landed at the finish.
I had a sense that once all the dust had settled...that fans would be ready to "turn the page" and welcome the new coaches that have joined the Illini family over the last few months.
That sense has been proven correct.
Over 200 fans packed the Peoria Country Club last week for the initial Caravan stop...roughly double what the same event drew one year ago. New coaches Tim Beckman, Matt Bollant and John Groce.... along with Athletic Director Mike Thomas .....made an excellent first impression that night. The electricity in the room was quite evident.
Same story in Springfield on Monday night. Over 300 fans packed Erin's Pavilion to listen to 7 Illini coaches talk about their respective programs and what next year might look like. Again...a lot of excitement was in the room and I think people are really looking foward to the start of the athletic season next fall.
There are two more stops for the Caravan this week. We will be in Danville on Wednesday night and Decatur on Thursday. Looking forward to seeing more Illini orange in those two locations.