1983: A 20th anniversary retrospective on the Illini''s Rose Bowl season

1983: A 20th anniversary retrospective on the Illini''s Rose Bowl season

In the news in ''83...

In the nation ... Jesse Jackson formally announced his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, vowing to "give a voice to the voiceless, representation to the unrepresented and hope to the downtrodden." Only the second widely know black candidate to try for the presidency, Jackson is starting months and millions of dollards behind the seven men also seeking the nomination.

In Illinois ... The State of Illinois selected Linconl and Jacksonville as sites for two ne "prefab" facilities aimed at easing prison crowding. The 500-bed modular prisons – each with a 15 million price tag – can be contructed rapidly, with completion expected within a year.

Catching up with ... Mike Weingrad

The junior college transfer led the Illini in tackling in 1982 and was third in ''83. Not bad for a guy from Columbus, Ohio, who was mistakenly overlooked in recruiting by the Buckeyes. We called the advertising executive at his home in the northwest Chicago suburbs.

NG: What''s your favorite moment from that season?

MW: There are several. When I think about how we shut down Iowa 33-0. The most memorable game was the Ohio State game. It really kind of sent us to the Big Ten championship. We came back in the last two minutes. From then on in, it was all downhill. That was the game to win.

NG: Did the guys realize they were in the middle of a special season?

MW: I think we focused predominantly on the next team we had to play. Our end goal was to win the Big Ten championship. We had a core group of players and coaches that reminded us of that end goal all the time.

NG: Did the defense get enough credit for the team''s success?

MW: They always say defense wins game. I think we were the No. 2- or No. 3-rated defense in the country. In terms of credit because we had such a productive offense, it could have been somewhat overshadowed. But I think we got what was due to us.

NG: You were third on the team in tackles. Why weren''t you first?

MW: They didn''t play me all the time. My backup, Ed Brady, played 40 percent of the time. Max McCartney always had a way of getting the best out of his players and putting someone that was very competent player behind you.

NG: Being from Columbus, how did it feel to you personally to beat Ohio State?

MW: It was an unbelievable feeling. As a young kid, that''s all we had in Columbus. That was the pinnacle of my career. Ironically, I played in the East-West Shrine Game my senior year and Earle Bruce was the coach. He made me the team captain. He said, "Weingrad, we should have never let you go." But they didn''t recruit me out of high school.

NG: What were Saturday nights like for you guys after a big win in ''83?

MW: We strutted our stuff. We were invincible. We were treated well. We were treated with open arms in the community. It was exciting times, unlike today. What do you write about down there now?

NG: Was the party reputation of the team deserved or exaggerated?

MW: I would say it was exaggerated. We had a bunch of junior college players and a bunch of wild childs. I don''t think it was any different than any other team.

NG: Who was the craziest guy on the team?

MW: Ed Brady was crazy. We used to flip his car over in front of Kam''s. He drove his Falcon station wagon. We''d just flip his car over for fun. He''d flip it back over and drive it away.

NG: What are you doing these days?

MW: I''m in the advertising business in Chicago. I''ve been doing that for 18 years. I''ve got four boys (Jordan, Colin, Joshua and Jacob) and a lovely wife, Eileen. I met her my junior year at Illinois.

NG: Any future Illini in the group?

MW: They all play football. I''m grooming them all. My 14-year-old (Jordan) is going to be a big boy.

NG: Do the players from the ''83 team feel good about how they are treated by the current regime?

MW: All the things that happened post-''83 season were the fruits of our labor. They reaped the rewards of having a Big Ten championship team. I went to the Ohio State-Illinois game (in 2002). They treated us like kings. I felt I was welcome.

NG: Do you have a good Mike White story?

MW: He''s a guy who could sell ice to an eskimo. It all came from the head down. Max would be the guy who would deliver his message. That year, if they said run through a wall, we would do it. That was the kind of guy he (White) was.

NG: What happened in Pasadena?

MW: You take a bunch of Midwestern boys and sent them out to California, the guys who hadn''t been there saw it as a party. If we had been out there one week before, I think we would have just slaughtered them. But we got stale the second week.

NG: Did the trip to the Playboy Mansion help?

MW: The Playboy Mansion should have been held out as the reward.

NG: Can you give us a score for Illinois-Minnesota on Saturday?

MW: Minnesota 28, Illinois 10.

Tatelines:

What sports editor Loren Tate was writing about 20 years ago, when Illinois beat Michigan 16-6 to improve to 7-1.

"California, here we come. Right back where we started from."

"The Fighting Illini, surging in to the national limelight behind San Franciscan Mike White and a large cast of Californians, were virtually conceded the Rose Bowl berth Saturday. By winning just two of their last three games against the Big Ten''s tailenders, these transplanted Californians – Jack Trudeau, Dave Williams, Dwight Beverly, Tim Brewster and all those linebackers – are assured of spending the holidays in familiar territory.

"We''ve beaten the best and we''re going to finish undefeated in the Big Ten," promised Brewster.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports
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