Tensions boil over

Tensions boil over

URBANA — The Illinois football players and coaches had been available to the media after every training camp practice.

Until Thursday.

Illinois coach Lovie Smith said "no interviews" to the school's sports information staff. The players went to their yellow school buses for the short trip back to the football offices.

Normally calm during practices, Smith and his coaches scolded the players after two on-field skirmishes.

It got bad enough that Smith briefly stopped practice and told the entire team to do pushups. Taking a page out of Sgt. Hulka in "Stripes," Smith ordered three sets of 10.

The players counted them off.

The team ended practice early and didn't have an expected two-minute drill.

Fights in practice are not new at Illinois. Former defensive lineman Fred Wakefield seemed to get into one daily during his Illini career.

It didn't impact his future. The friendly Tuscola native spent eight years in the NFL.

But Smith has shown a low tolerance for practice disruptions.


The team is scheduled to return to practice today at 2:30 p.m.

A week ago, Smith surprised his team, calling off the afternoon workout. No word yet on the plans for today, but given the abrupt end to Thursday's workout, it is unlikely the team will get another break.

Illinois is scheduled to wrap up training camp at 9 a.m. Saturday. The players have Sunday off.

Next week's practice schedule has not been announced. During game weeks, the team will have Monday off, then practice Tuesday to Thursday.


Illinois cornerbacks coach Paul Williams isn't part of the bicycle brigade (Smith and Luke Butkus) that rides from practices to the office. Instead, Williams runs. One way.

"I think it's good just to get your mind right," Williams said.

Doesn't sound like he will be running a marathon any time soon.

"I'm in horrible shape," Williams said. "I'll never be in the shape I was in. I was a two-sport athlete (at Delaware). I'll never get back to that."


Illinois cornerback Cameron Watkins has been friends with Ke'Shawn Vaughn since they were in middle school.

They went to the same Nashville, Tenn., high school and came to Illinois in the same recruiting class.

Vaughn left after the 2016 season, transferring to hometown Vanderbilt. He is sitting out this season with the Commodores and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Watkins and Vaughn stay in contact.

"That's my guy," Watkins said. "It's pretty tough on him (sitting out). He wants to play football. He's got to make sure he's on the top of his game and ready for next year.

"I do miss him. I just wanted him to make the best decision for him."

Bob Asmussen

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Moonpie wrote on August 18, 2017 at 8:08 am

Lovie Dovie Savior Man revealing his true colors. He's as arrogant as Ancent Tate, but usualy hides it better--until things go wrong. Beware what you wish for - the guy was fired from his last two jobs.

No idea why Lovie Dovie would need to ban Lazy Gazoo reporters because they never ask tough questions.

Schmohawk wrote on August 18, 2017 at 9:08 am

Moonpie - sit a few plays out, bud.

Pick your spots.