Tate: Dear Coach ...

Tate: Dear Coach ...

As the UI's highest-paid employee, the new football coach will be asked to do more than direct the team for three months every autumn.

Which set me to thinking. How far should he wander into the PR business of winning friends and influencing people? Isn't that a big part of his job? Wouldn't he be well-advised to venture outside his Memorial Stadium bunker? And wouldn't good PR provide a degree of insulation for those inevitable bad Saturdays?

The best PR is, of course, winning games. The UI's as-yet unknown gridiron leader could have the personality of Bob Knight and, if he wins games, they'll build a statue of him. But here's the hot list for the eight months between now and next football season.

— At the initial news conference, when first impressions mean everything, display a tie with orange in it, don't joke about it, and pronounce the name of the state and team nickname properly. Oh, and don't relate how much you love Bo Schembechler.

— Proclaim Vic Koenning as your defensive coordinator and, at the next Illini home basketball game, bring him to center court and throw your arm around him before shouting "I-L-L," and watch the response. And mention privately (it'll get around) how you're taken by the invigorating "Three-in-One" music.

— Have the Quarterback Club call a special meeting, bring some players, personally pick up the tab for meals of all members and invited non-members, and don't act like you're in a hurry to leave. Better yet, mill around with the crowd for a half-hour afterward. Shake hands with Leonard Seward, ask how his Dish TV business is doing, and you've won him for life. Multiply Seward by 100 — and I guarantee each of them will tell 10 buddies about the meeting — and you have 1,000 new supporters out of one meeting.

— Schedule a women's event to discuss football rules and whatever else they want to talk about. Shake hands. Always shake hands. Every hand shaken is a person in your corner and one who might be more likely to attend games. While you're at it, a men's gathering on rules and football technicalities wouldn't hurt.

— I know there's only 24 hours in a day, but line up the civic clubs and give them your best spiel. Bring a player along. Everybody loves to meet the players. Sam Maniscalco knocked 'em out at a recent Rebounders meeting.

— Go see recruiting guru Tom Lemming. Ask how the UI can get back in the forefront of Chicagoland recruiting. Start fresh with him — let bygones be bygones — and work with him. Tom is influential with prospective athletes up that way.

— San Antonio's River Walk is great, but this is more fun. Ask Kent Brown to escort you, your wife and the Koennings through downtown Champaign on a warm Friday night in the spring. The stroll through the throngs of dining-drinking folks from Destihl to the Esquire is an unforgettable experience. Mike Thomas profited from meeting many businesspeople while living downtown for his first month.

— See if you can work in C-U's special events ... a Tony Clements comedy show ... Taste of Champaign ... Urbana's Sweet Corn Festival ... a Krannert show ... an Assembly Hall event. Set up lunches at the country clubs. Hit Old Orchard on a Thursday at 11:45. Buy lunch for Lee Cabutti. Work the crowds. Look 'em in the eye and shake hands. Always shake hands. People everywhere are dying to meet you.

— Attend UI sports events as though you enjoy them. Don't arrive late. Cheer for the wrestlers. Don't leave the softball game in the fifth inning or the tennis match before it's over. Pretend you're a fan. You might like it.

— Confer with Bruce Weber about his accessibility and how he's become engaged with the community and Coaches vs. Cancer. Weber is busy, too, but he seldom says no to any reasonable request. The UI is not a military station or a hermitage. Live here like it's permanent and take part in the surroundings. It's harder to get Weber to leave events than to get him there.

— Sit down with Kevin Hambly on how to get the students energized. This may require visits to sororities and fraternities. You need those students. If you meet them, they will come. As an example, two hours prior to the UI-Maryland game, basketball coach Mark Turgeon sat with students to build a positive impression in his first season.

How's that for a to-do list? I know, it's a killer. But that's what the job is. Being the football coach is more than three months of games in the fall. You're the university's most well-known employee, and a great deal is expected. If you view this as simply another military stop along life's highway, the next stop might not be too far behind.

Ron Zook finished with 7-6 and 6-6 seasons. Those records might have been good enough to save him if he hadn't lost the community. He did precious few of the items above.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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eastsideexp wrote on December 08, 2011 at 12:12 am

Agree to a performance based contract.  Maybe you will come in at 1.5 - 2 million for the first year and your coordinators will be well compenstaed too.  The second year your base salary will get cut in half, along with all your coordinators.  Your pay and the staff pay will be based on performance. Do your players perform academically? What is your record in conference/nonconfernece play? Is the stadium full?  Is the team going to a significant bowl game?  Can you take the players you have and make them an effective team? - Please don't use the 'we don't have the best talent' excuse...

Run a clean program, compete every play of every game and you will be well compensated.


Illini1973 wrote on December 08, 2011 at 8:12 am
Profile Picture

Support BringingBacktheChief!!

Moonpie wrote on December 08, 2011 at 10:12 am

Bring back racism, you mean.

DaisyJ wrote on December 08, 2011 at 11:12 am

LoonieMOONIE... bring back racism...whoa there partner....the chief was not racist until your little brain was swayed by someone to make you think that way. Be gald we let some people live and comment in this country if you want to see hatred go somewhere else. If you hate the chief so much,, I suggest you try Cuba for a while and then come back and find out how nice it is to have a Chief to love for honor. Just becasue he did a dance that most Indians have done on their reservations does not mean we cannot have someone re-inact this. I did not make up how Indians orginally dressed or dance so do not blame me or the white man for how they still look in some parts of the country. No one forced them to wear headresses, or buckskin and no

one told them to stop dressing. So take your prejudice and go to Cuba and open your mouth there and see how far down the street you get. Go America

Moonpie wrote on December 08, 2011 at 3:12 pm

DaisyJ--what a predictable conservative you are. You have no argument and so you immediatley turn vicious and attack and assume someone who disagrees with you is somehow better served living in Cuba. How funny and ridiculous. The Chief was a sorry racist stereotype. But I know you are one of those folks who believes facts should conform to your agenda and pre-packaged beliefs. Look at your logic: you suggest that in Cuba people don't have the freedom we have here and would get shouted down -- then, you try to shout me down. The truth is, you resemble the restrictive and oppresive regime in Cuba more than someone who believes in freedom of views and beliefs.

I'll duck now from your inevitable escalation and attacks. After all, if someone disagrees with you folks, they must be silenced.

When someone has no argument, they just yell loud and hope reality will go away.



Tcat59 wrote on December 08, 2011 at 3:12 pm

As a man who does have Cherokee blood running through my veins, I find the the comment that the Chief is racist is way out of line! I find that most people who cry about racism are racist themselves! If you look at the history of the Chief and how that came around you would know that it came out of respect to the native indians in the area and their union( the Illini) of tribes! This is just a part of the politically correct BS that has gone way out of hand! There is no racism in the icon that is THE CHIEF!

DaisyJ wrote on December 08, 2011 at 3:12 pm

MOONCRYPIE>...you   used  the   word   RACIST,,,goof...Be glad you live in the USA that you can call someone that. Be glad,,,and how is it that you shout by typing on a computer.??

Use the word racist again and my little typing letters will shout back at you race card person.

illinizeeman wrote on December 08, 2011 at 8:12 am

Sadly, even from my remote location, I could sense in his words and gestures that Zook considered it more of an inconvenience than priviledge to market his program and to be truly part the community.  Also, I detested when he referred to football games "a show for the fans".  On homecoming weekends, he insisted that "we need to put on a good show for the fans".  No, Zook, I don't want a good show.  I want you to coach your team to a win.

Thank you for providing insight into the intangibles that seemed to be part of the demise but remained invisible from a distance.


tunacommander wrote on December 08, 2011 at 11:12 am

Bob obviously hasn't heard that Toledo's Beckman is the new guy and he is a defensive guy so Vic will be out-the door. Will be interesting to watch this nobody try to recruit againt Bielema and that idiot in South Bend. Joliet Catholic better watch out! Some guy named Beckman is the new guy!

forestewart wrote on December 08, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I agree with Tate but I think Zook's biggest fault was not kissing up to Loren. Tate lets his ego get in the way of good writing occasionally.

nick wrote on December 08, 2011 at 12:12 pm

 What a sad article by a person filled with enormous personal animosity.This is not even professional.It is the type of immature whining one would expect to see in a high school newspaper.Why is it so important that the News Gazette continue to find ways to denigrate Ron Zook?

Tate's perceptions of Coach Zook are irrelevant..they are well known of course,but in the scope of Illinois football,meaningless.

Is it too much to ask that the News-Gazette hire someone who will demonstrate a fair and responsible style in reporting about Illinois athletics? Would it be possible to provide some perceptions that are different from Tate's boring,predictable,gossip? Shouldn't the News Gazette try to find a writer who will offer insight and honesty about Illinois athletics? It is apparent that the ''news'' sources for Tate are found at the parties that he attends,the bars that he visits and his favorite local restaurants.

Don't News-Gazette readers deserve better?



Moonpie wrote on December 08, 2011 at 3:12 pm

You said it, nick -- agreed. Moses Saint Tate is decades of silly arrogance and self-righteousness. Here's MY advice to the next coach: ignore Saint Tate and do it your way.

But the Sleepy Gazoo is always going to feature this sort of bush league stuff.

Tcat59 wrote on December 08, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Loren Tate is completely right! The new coach needs to be outgoing and not like Zook who seemed to be nowhere in site! Now people like Moonpie will most likely not like anyone unless they are his personal friend or himself.

1 illinifan wrote on December 08, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I think the point is that the new coach needs to be more active in the community, which most are. Why we are settling for Beckman is beyond me, I guess we will have to wait for the next ad and coach for a real chance on winning.

@moonpie Really? Trying to play the race card. is that the best you can do? I have Cherokee as well. It was unreal to me that we gave up but yet the Seminoles had to do nothing, why? Because they had a winning program, we are not going to get there with Beckman, said the same thing when they hired Zook, let history repeat itself.

Go Chief!

readone wrote on December 08, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Funny that I read this article then these comment so I went back and re-read Tate's article.  Not once did I see Ron Zook mentioned by Tate.  If you assume that you know what Tate meant, you may or may not be right, but it is all good advice for a new coach.  Only those of you here on the boards think you know more than a long time professional.

Lanphier wrote on December 08, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Daisy....You are so lacking in class, I am not even going to stoop to where you are....I just think you should educate yourself, before you attempt to tackle such a personal and sensitive subject.....You lack the knowlege, and tact to do so, IMO.....My advice for you...Stop commenting, you are only trying to fuel a fire....

demitrimaniscalaco wrote on December 08, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I gotta say, I just didnt understand whatever was considered racist about the chief.  Yes, he was typically a white student in the garb dancing around, but he was wearing authentic native american gear and the dance was taught to him by native americans too.  It was a symbol of honor to me. Yes, there was never actually a singular illini tribe, but there was the Illinois Confederation of nearly a dozen tribes in and around Illinois hundreds of years ago.

Ok actually, the scene of a white person dancing around I can see the argument, but what I will say and stand by is there is NOTHING "hostile" about tens of thousands of people standing next to each other singing and honoring a symbol of native american history, the state of Illinois history, and the University of Illinois history.  

Gotta give credit to Loren Saint Tate too, he's the one I remember saying that, and I really do agree.


DaisyJ wrote on December 09, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Lanphy...you are right, got to watch what you say...so how is this,,,take your concern about the color of a skin or the fact that the chief was racism and go jump in a lake. Slavery is over, and if you keep crying that you see racism well like I said, go to Cuba and see what real trouble looks like. That also goes for all the tatoo's and braided hair that is worn by so many that want respect. If you want respect, respect your own looks first.