Bob Asmussen: Should Illini shoot to top?

Bob Asmussen: Should Illini shoot to top?

Tommy Tuberville wants the 2004 football title awarded to his Auburn football team.

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Should Illinois make the same claim for the 2005 NCAA basketball championship?

In 2004, undefeated Auburn, led by current Cincinnati coach Tuberville, finished second in the final national polls. Southern Cal won the title, routing Oklahoma in the championship game.

But in 2011, the BCS stripped Southern Cal’s national title for using Reggie Bush, who received illegal benefits.

The revelations aren’t limited to college football. College basketball has its own set of closets filled with skeletons. And they apparently reside in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Last week, former North Carolina star Rashad McCants said tutors wrote his papers and he rarely attended classes during his time at the school. He also claimed that bogus classes helped keep him eligible.

“It is difficult to think that those things can happen,” said Wayne McClain, an Illinois assistant coach in 2005 and the current coach at Champaign Central. “Roy Williams is such a prominent individual in college coaching.

“Sometimes, for whatever reason, people just slip through the cracks. If that was the case with McCants, it’s sad.”

If it turns out to be true and that the leadership at North Carolina knew about it, the school could face penalties similar to those absorbed by Southern Cal.

No need to remind you who finished second in 2005, right?

Does North Carolina beat Illinois without McCants? Doubtful. McCants scored 14 points in the 75-70 win at St. Louis.

And even if the Tar Heels had been able to make up for his lost points, it would have been difficult to reach the final. McCants was the team’s No. 2 scorer and an integral part of the championship run.

Was it fair for Illinois to have to play North Carolina with McCants?

That’s a question McClain has been hearing a lot since the story broke.

“Tracy Webster texted me immediately about that and asked me were we national champs.”

“Honestly, if you’re ineligible, you shouldn’t be playing. We made sure our players were eligible. Heck, I was meeting them before class, after class, peeking in their doors during class. That was a mandate for us, They call them student-athletes. If (McCants) was truly ineligible, I don’t know how they can be considered the champions.”

Don’t expect Illinois to ask the NCAA for the 2005 trophy.

Even if North Carolina is forced to forfeit the title.

“I don’t think that will happen,” Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said during “Saturday SportsTalk.” “If for some reason it did happen, I don’t think Illinois would be the beneficiary of that. I think they would crown no national champion that particular year.”

Is that right? What is the best solution?

McClain, who is having the time of his life with the Maroons, doesn’t have an answer.

“I’m just wondering what’s going to eventually happen with this,” McClain said.

At the time, McClain had no idea there were potential issues with the Tar Heels.

“My head was so buried in scouting reports and trying to make history at Illinois,” McClain said.

If the title was awarded now to Illinois, McClain wouldn’t do any celebrating.

“You’ve still got to settle it on the floor,” McClain said. “It would be like a consolation prize. You would never, ever not feel the fact that you lost a game on the floor that night even if they came and handed it to us. To me, it would be bittersweet.”

Bob Asmussen writes three columns a week for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-351-5233 or via email at

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JimOATSfan wrote on June 12, 2014 at 1:06 am

Take the title and run!

The Illini got beat by selective officiating, not a better opponent, even with McCants.

Go Illini!

IlliniMike05 wrote on June 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

No, and this isn't a legitimate debate. Just because they weren't eligible to win it- if that's the case- doesn't mean we retroactively won it. Who would want that, anyway? The reward for winning the championship- as a fan or a player- is the overwhelming feeling of euphoric joy and accomplishment (the accomplishment part not so much for the fans) in that moment. You can't have that moment retroactively. Idiotic whining about officiating aside, we lost the actual basketball game fair and square.

And I hate to tell this to the more naive among you, but there were at least a couple of players on that lllinois team that don't know what the inside of a spring 2005 semester classroom looks like, because they were never in one. So throwing stones when you're in a glass house and all that.

Moonpie wrote on June 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

More desperate cheerleading. Gazoo sports will do anything to pretend Illini sports are better than they are.

IlliniMike05 wrote on June 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

Yeah, there wasn't anything in this article that would lead a reasonable person to that conclusion. Which, yes, I know, would exclude you. I haven't read much of this stuff lately, so it's good to know you're still just an awful person.