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Charging to the rescue in this case were Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning, two improvisors replacing (1) Mike Schultz, who never got the hang of Mike Locksley's offensive scheme and (2) a dual-coordinator defensive setup that was springing more leaks than Old Faithful. It worked.
Greg McMahon celebrates his 51st birthday Sunday. His 13 years at the University of Illinois (1992-2004) included duty with the special teams, tight ends and wide receivers.
Illinois athletes and teams dominated The News-Gazette's list of top stories in 2010.
Plenty can happen between now and next September — NFL defections, coaching changes, recruiting swings — but Ron Zook's Illini are looking good heading into the 2011 season. A Texas Bowl rout and a favorable schedule indicate as much. A look courtesy sports editor Jim Rossow:
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Before we move on to 2011, a look back at the "experts" who were right to pick Illinois against Baylor in the Texas Bowl. Appropriately, Voice of the Illini Brian Barnhart was the closest of all.
"One of the things I said on Aug. 4 at our very first meeting was that we were good enough to win every game on our schedule," Zook said after Wednesday night's Texas Bowl win. "I think the seniors were the only ones that really felt that way."
Turns out there was more truth than hyperbole in Zook's pitch.
CHAMPAIGN – Ron Guenther's favorite athletic program finished off the 24-hour trifecta Thursday at the Assembly Hall.
The Illini women, following up on the impressive performances by their hoops counterparts and football brethren a day earlier, throttled Minnesota 64-50 to open the Big Ten season.
CHAMPAIGN – Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson had a must-see TV viewing appointment Thursday. They planted themselves on the couch and watched their former Illinois women's basketball teammates take on Minnesota.
Smith and Simpson are both back in the U.S. for a brief holiday break from their overseas pro teams. Smith is with Nantes-Reze in France; Simpson plays for Mersin in Turkey, the same league in which Diana Taurasi, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles compete.
EVANSTON — Second-ranked Jimmy Kennedy (141 pounds) and fifth-ranked B.J. Futrell (133) each finished second in their respective weight classes for Illinois at the Ken Kraft Midlands Invitational.
No. 12 Eric Terrazas finished third, winning eight straight matches after losing his opener.