Zook Timeline: Good, bad and ugly
A look at Ron Zook's seven-year run as Illinois coach:
Dec. 7, 2004
Ron Zook is named the 22nd Illinois football coach.
Feb. 2, 2005
First recruiting class numbers 20 players. The best of the group includes Rashard Mendenhall, Brit Miller, Will Davis and Doug Pilcher. Of the 20, 11 didn't complete their eligibility at Illinois.
Sept. 3, 2005
First game is a rousing success, Illinois rallying from a 20-point deficit to win in overtime. Afterward, Zook goes to the student section to celebrate.
Oct. 22, 2005
Penn State builds a 56-3 halftime lead and cruises to a 63-10 victory.
Jan. 7, 2006
Mike Mallory, who had been defensive coordinator for Ron Turner and Zook, is fired after one season. In early March, Zook hires former Northwestern assistant Vince Okruch as Mallory's replacement.
Feb. 1, 2006
Zook's second recruiting class numbers 27 and includes future standouts Juice Williams, Vontae Davis, Jon Asamoah and Antonio Steele. Just four of the 27 fail to complete their eligibility at Illinois.
Sept. 23, 2006
Zook benches starting quarterback Tim Brasic in place of freshman Juice Williams in a 24-7 loss to Iowa. Williams leads the Illini to a 23-20 win the next week at Michigan State, Zook's first Big Ten victory at Illinois.
Feb. 7. 2007
Zook's star-studded third class numbers 21 players and includes Arrelious Benn, Martez Wilson and Josh Brent. Nine of the 21 were off the team or never made it to Illinois by the start of the 2008 season.
March 2, 2007
Illinois receivers Derrick McPhearson and Jody Ellis are arrested and charged with residential burglary. Zook suspends both players.
July 12, 2007
After helping the defense improve in 2006, coordinator Vince Okruch takes a leave of absence for personal reasons. He never returns to the team and later takes a job at Akron. No explanation is ever given by Illinois for Okruch's departure.
Oct. 6, 2007
A week after beating Penn State for the third time in school history, Illinois knocks off No. 5 Wisconsin 31-26. Illinois moves into the national rankings for the first time since after the 2001 season.
Nov. 10, 2007
Illinois shocks No. 1 Ohio State 28-21 at Columbus, the school's first win against a top-ranked team in 51 years.
Dec. 8, 2007
As the Illinois players enter their Memorial Stadium lounge, they are handed roses, signifying their bowl destination. It's the first Illinois trip to Pasadena in 24 years.
Jan. 1, 2008
Rashard Mendenhall has a big day, running for 155 yards, but the Illini lose 49-17 to Southern Cal at the Rose Bowl.
Feb. 6, 2008
Twenty-nine players join the Illini, including future standouts Mikel Leshoure, Jeff Allen, Tavon Wilson and Graham Pocic.
Oct. 4, 2008
In his finest game as Illinois quarterback, Juice Williams sets a Michigan Stadium record for total offense in a 45-20 win against the Wolverines.
Nov. 8, 2008
The most head-scratching loss of the Zook era occurs in front of family and friends at Detroit's Ford Field. A late rally by Illinois fails in a 23-17 loss to Western Michigan. It's the first of three consecutive losses to close the regular season.
Nov. 22, 2008
A year after reaching the Rose Bowl, Illinois is eliminated from the postseason with a 27-10 loss at Northwestern.
Dec. 8, 2008
Mike Locksley leaves as Illinois offensive coordinator to take over as head coach at New Mexico. It's a disaster for Locksley and Illinois. He doesn't survive his third season in Albuquerque, and his replacement at Illinois, Mike Schultz, is gone after one.
Dec. 14, 2008
Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson is stabbed outside a Champaign bar while coming to the aid of a former teammate.
Feb. 4, 2009
Illinois adds 20 recruits, including late commitments Michael Buchanan and Justin Green. Key players Terry Hawthorne and Nathan Scheelhaase also are added.
Sept. 5, 2009
Martez Wilson is lost for the season after suffering a neck injury in a blowout loss to Missouri.
Sept. 26, 2009
Ohio State shuts out the Illini 30-0 in Columbus. It's the second shutout loss for Zook at Illinois, coming three years after a 33-0 loss at Rutgers.
Dec. 5, 2009
In the final game of a 3-9 season, Illinois loses to Fresno State 53-52 when a Bulldog offensive lineman catches a deflected two-point conversion pass in the final seconds.
Dec. 18, 2009
Four days after naming Paul Petrino offensive coordinator, Illinois hires Vic Koenning as defensive coordinator. The move is part of a transition in the staff that sees six new coaches hired. Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther had considered firing Zook but allowed him to make a major overhaul of the staff instead.
Feb. 3, 2010
Illinois adds 20 players to its recruiting class. The best of the bunch are linebacker Jonathan Brown, receiver Darius Millines and quarterback Chandler Whitmer. Less than a year later, Whitmer transfers to a junior college.
Sept. 4, 2010
In the final scheduled game between the schools, Illinois leads Missouri 13-3 at halftime in St. Louis. But the Tigers outscore the Illini 20-0 in the second half.
Nov. 6, 2010
In the highest-scoring game in Big Ten history, Michigan beats Illinois 67-65 in triple overtime. Mikel Leshoure scores five touchdowns for the Illini, who lose when a two-point conversion attempt fails in the third overtime. The disappointment of the loss carries over to the next week, when Illinois loses at home to Minnesota.
Nov. 20, 2010
Illinois beats Northwestern 48-27 at Wrigley Field. Going one direction because of safety concerns, Mikel Leshoure sets a school record with 330 rushing yards.
Dec. 29, 2010
Illinois romps against Baylor 38-14 in the Texas Bowl for the school's first bowl victory since 1999. Mikel Leshoure, the game MVP, scored three touchdowns.
Jan. 19, 2011
Junior defensive tackle Corey Liuget declares for the NFL draft. He is the third Illini to give up his final year of eligibility, joining Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson. Liuget is a first-round pick by the Chargers, Leshoure goes in the second round to the Lions and the Saints take Wilson in the third round.
Feb. 2, 2011
Illinois signs 27 players in Zook's seventh recruiting class. Top players in the class include quarterback Reilly O'Toole, tight end Jon Davis and tailback Donovonn Young.
July 5, 2011
Incoming freshman defensive tackle Chris Jones, a contender for early playing time, is arrested and charged with aggravated battery. Jones later pleaded guilty to Class 3 felony and was released from jail after a sentence of time served. He didn't join the Illinois football team but remained in C-U.
Sept. 17, 2011
Illinois beats No. 22 Arizona State at home for the first win against a ranked nonconference team in 10 seasons. The Illini move into the national rankings after the victory.
Oct. 15, 2011
With a chance to move way up in the national polls, undefeated Illinois loses 17-7 at home against Ohio State. Late in the game, with his team down 10, Zook decides to run an offensive play on fourth down deep in Buckeyes territory. The play fails, and Zook is criticized by fans while running off the field.
Nov. 26, 2011
The Illini lose their sixth consecutive game in ugly fashion, 27-7 to a bad Minnesota team. Zook's record in seven seasons at Illinois falls to 34-51. Unless it wins its bowl game, Illinois will finish with a non-winning record for the 32nd time since 1966.
Nov. 27, 2011