'So joyful as a coach'

'So joyful as a coach'

Mike White is living the good life. One of the most popular coaches in Illini history is neighbors with the coach who beat him in the Rose Bowl — Terry Donahue — on Balboa Island, Calif., the two taking frequent bike rides along the Pacific Ocean.

"This is a great area out here," White tells Loren Tate in this week's 33-minute podcast, 'Tatelines: Unedited.'

White, 81, returned to the West Coast after spending last weekend as a guest of Kurt Warner at the NFL Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio. White coached Warner with the Rams when they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

"Everything fell together," he said.

White is credited for rejuvenating Illini football in the 1980s, making Memorial Stadium the place to be.

"It was so joyful as a coach," he said.

White purposely parked his car at the team hotel so he could tailgate after games.

"I was hoping we could win the home games so I could walk through the crowd," he said. "I would stop for a couple beverages along the way with Illinois fans.

"There's no better place to go to a football game than the University of Illinois."

Key to White's success at Illinois — 47 wins, third-most in program history — was luring California junior college stars to the Midwest.

"They didn't know where Champaign, Ill., was," he said. "I think they thought it was near the Atlantic Ocean."

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Merriam-Webster wrote on August 09, 2017 at 9:08 am

No place better to watch a college football game than Champaign?


Memorial Stadium is not better than 11th according to the Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/ct-big-ten-stadium-rankings-photos-photogallery.html

Some of the issues with the facility include, but are not limited to;

The East Side of the Stadium has not been renovated since... ever.  The restrooms, concession stands, and sightlines are lesser than the West Side, which got a renovation a decade ago.  Even with the most recent 100 million dollar cash infusion there is literally nothing for these fans.

It's even worse in the Horseshoe as this area does not have restrooms or concession stands that are consistently functional, or even clean. Not the best way to treat the regular fans who sit here.

The food prices are too high.

You cannot buy a beer, which is hypocritical since the big $ folks can get beer, wine and liquor in their glass palace.  Illinois Athletics treats the little people like they are little.  Which leads me to the next point.

Memorial Stadium is 1/2 full at best, and that makes for a really bad environment.  The students are on the North Side stuck above the band and are too far away from the field to make an impact.  The people running the video board also do a poor job of showing replays and other live look ins at games around the country.  Go to a game at Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, or even Iowa or Purdue - it's so much better run.

Finally, it's not much fun to watch losing football and pay the prices that Illinois charges us fans.  Best place to get tickets is not through the ticket office where you pay full price, but to go on StubHub.com and get them on the cheap.  $21 bucks for the Iowa or Nebraska game. Dont be a dope and buy from the University.  Go online to get a real sense of the value that an Illini Football ticket is worth.


Kevin Knott wrote on August 10, 2017 at 6:08 am

Merriam- When I read comments such as yours, I'm thankful I wake up each day with a positive optimistic but realistic view of life. Memorial Stadium is not the most perfect athletic venue in the country. However, to be so negative on all accounts, you sound like an old curmudgeon who lives a miserable life (and I'm not talking about wealth or material objects). Have a good time with that.

IllSoCal wrote on August 09, 2017 at 11:08 am

The Mike White era was indeed a joyous time, especially after the doleful Gary Moeller teams. I recall the very first play of White's offense was a 50 yard pass (incomplete) by Dave WIlson. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. We were starving for something different: hope - and White's team provided it with the West Coast offense. The 1983  victory over Bo's Michigan team was one of the best ever, followed by a Rose Bowl (and of couse it's best to not recall that experience). Few Illini coaches can claim White's "sea change" impact. It really was dour to joyful.

BruckJr wrote on August 09, 2017 at 2:08 pm

White made rich men out of some of the local defense attorneys.