CHAMPAIGN – Who can forget Todd Murphy?
Not the alumni of his infamous 5 A.M. Club.
"I think (first baseman) Kevin (Rudden) and I must have led the 5 A.M. Club," Illinois senior second baseman D.J. Svihlik said. "I can vividly remember him screaming down my throat. It was almost like he enjoyed doing it.
"The thing is, he never made it personal."
As you might have gathered, the 5 A.M. Club was no coffee klatsch. Instead, it was an eye-opening wakeup call for accountability, directed by then-Illini assistant baseball coach Murphy.
Miss a study hall? Be prepared to run 100-yard dashes until you drop. Don't show up on time for a meeting? Brace yourself for an hourlong workout on a stairclimber machine. Break the team rule on being clean-shaven? Get set to threaten the Guiness Book of World Records for situps.
"The punishment was always going to be worse than the crime, so it probably made them think twice," said Murphy, who served on Itch Jones' UI staff from 1995 to '98. "Probably made them grow up quicker."
Murphy is in his first season as an assistant coach at Purdue. When he returns tonight to Illinois Field for the start of a four-game series between the Illini and Boilermakers, chances are some war stories from the 5 A.M. Club days will be exchanged.
Like the time Svihlik and teammate Jon Hall served their penalty for missing study hall one early November morning. The site: Illinois Field. The weather: a downpour.
"And he's standing out there with a sweat suit on just sopping wet," Svihlik recalled, "and we're running 100-yard dashes, 20 of them. He's screaming in our ear.
"And I remember I went back to my room, and I felt like a recovering alcoholic. I was in my bed shaking. I still talk to him about that day."
Or those times when newcomers to the 5 A.M. Club would put in a quality hour on the stairclimber. The veterans knew what was coming.
"There'd be players throwing up all over themselves," Svihlik said with a laugh.
Back then, of course, Murphy's methods were hardly a joking matter to anyone who went through the 5 A.M. Club gauntlet.
"At the time, I wanted to kill him," said Rudden, who as a freshman once spent an entire week receiving Murphy's special brand of discipline.
"We can all laugh about it now," Murphy said, "but at the time I'm not sure anybody was laughing too much."
But with the benefit of hindsight, 5 A.M. Club alumni say they now understand and appreciate the method to Murphy's seeming madness. It taught them unforgettable lessons in discipline and accountability.
"Now I look back, and it made me a better person and put me on the right track," Rudden said. "I realize he did it for me."
Said Svihlik: "I think (it was) just the whole concept of discipline. Disciplining yourself on the field as well as off the field. I've really tried to apply that to my life. When I discipline myself in the classroom, I find it really carries over onto the baseball field.
"He's just been a great influence on my life."
Murphy's pleased to hear 5 A.M. Clubbers took more than aching muscles away from the experience.
"I think it made them grow up," he said. "It made them tough and instilled discipline: how to do things right every day and go from there."
Besides, it gave the Illini a lifetime of stories to tell.
"When you look back on (college), those are the kind of things you remember," Svihlik said. "I mean, I'm not going to remember sitting in my psychology class taking a test. I'm going to remember Nov. 2 in a downpour sprinting, with this maniac yelling in my ear the whole time."