To the friend who pondered, no ... the concussion fuss won't influence colleges to return to one-platoon football.
It has become a game of one-trick specialists. Catchers catch, they don't tackle. Linebackers haven't snapped on offense since the Butkus days. Passers pass, and kickers kick.
Which raises a related question: If Miles Osei has opened Illini coaches' eyes with his versatility, where does he fit in today's game? The 200-pound junior from Prospect runs, catches and passes (southpaw). He is good at all three, but the Illini may have athletes who are more refined at each of these specialties. Has this jack-of-all-trades mastered one?
For now, Osei is enjoying himself by bouncing from one position to another and waiting his turn.
"Each position helps the other," he says. "I work with the slot receivers, run plays with the tailbacks and work with the quarterbacks. It is all scripted before we go on the field."
Oh, by the way, he also holds on placements, which requires practice time with the kickers. And he has shown an ability to return kickoffs.
Says quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase: "Miles means a lot to the team and not just in X's and O's. He has sacrificed to make the team better. He'll do what is asked."
Osei may not be in the starting lineup against Western Michigan on Sept. 1. But the 200-pounder will play, perhaps at multiple positions. And if you doubt his passing skills, you may be surprised.
Starting from scratch
If nine previous Illini football coaches are an indication, staff changeovers can be trying ... and usually exasperating.
Tim Beckman is the 10th UI coach since 1960. Eight of the nine were fired for either losing or rules violations. Only John Mackovic left of his own accord.
Each newcomer faced tough sledding, the best first-year marks posted by Mackovic and Lou Tepper at 6-5-1.
Beckman is inheriting more talent than all but those two, his squad highlighted by junior linebacker Jonathan Brown and eight senior standouts (when Justin Staples returns from a one-game suspension) on defense.
Prior to Beckman, all eight UI coaches took over squads that had been .500 or lower. Here's how they fared:
— Pete Elliott, 1960. Ray Eliot's recruiting had slipped and, after a hopeful start, the new coach soon found himself in a 15-game losing streak.
— Jim Valek, 1967. He never had a chance after the "slush fund" and was 8-32 in four seasons.
— Bob Blackman, 1971. Arriving from Dartmouth, he lost his first six games that year and the first seven in 1972.
— Gary Moeller, 1977. After a 3-8 start, he never recovered from the 0-0 tie against Northwestern in the 1978 opener.
— Mike White, 1980. The Illini went 3-8 before White got his California contingent rolling.
— John Mackovic, 1988. With Jeff George coming eligible, Mackovic rocked Ohio State and took the UI bowling.
— Lou Tepper, 1992. Two one-point losses didn't prevent Tepper from taking the Illini to the Holiday Bowl.
— Ron Turner, 1997. His first team went 0-11.
— Ron Zook, 2005. The Illini won one of their first 16 Big Ten games.
— Tim Beckman, 2012. He is bucking a shaky tradition but has some of the same defensive stoppers as Tepper (Dana Howard, Kevin Hardy, etc.).
That's the ticket
Jason Heggemeyer, UI ticket manager, anticipates a crowd of 45,000-plus for the Sept. 1 football opener against Western Michigan, noting that student sales still are heating up as they begin to arrive on campus.
Compared with most Big Ten schools, Illini football comes cheap. The season ticket number is close to 33,000, with 12,000 of those at $99 in the horseshoe and adjoining Section 109. UI staffers and about 5,000 students get cut-rate prices, the Block I season tickets going for $144 and the adjoining student season tickets priced at $109 ($15.50 per). Thus, more than half of Illini season tickets are discounted and below the season price ($315) for preferred seating. Singles for the three nonconference games can be acquired for $25, with singles for available Big Ten games at $40 and $60.
Heggemeyer informed that new bar codes on the football tickets will allow fans to order online and also facilitate fan transfers via Internet printers, although warnings are issued that a clear print is required for the bar codes to work in that manner.
Even though the Illini basketball schedule hasn't been announced, the renewal rate is 92 percent and rising.
But the best deal in town is Illini volleyball. The nation's No. 7 team can be watched for $25 ... for the entire season.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com.