Track and Field
Born on this date 113 years ago today — Oct. 11, 1902 — was 1920s Illini football star Frank Rokusek. Captain of the 1924 Illinois team, he was a blocking end for running back Red Grange. Said Grange of Rokusek: “I got the publicity for the long runs I made, but without ‘Roke’ clearing the way, I wouldn’t have gotten loose for a lot of them.”
One hundred years ago this season, coach Bob Zuppke’s (above, second from left) third Illini football team had a hard act to follow. A year before, the UI rolled to a 7-0 record and a mythical national championship. All-Americans Perry Graves, Ralph “Slooey” Chapman and Lennox Armstrong graduated, leaving Illinois with several significant holes in its lineup.
Born 128 years ago Monday — Sept. 28, 1887 — was Illini legend Avery Brundage. His greatest fame came from 1952 to 1972, when his served as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Bob Dintelmann, former Illinois distance runner and winner of the 1957 Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, celebrates his 80th birthday on Monday.
The Belleville native answered an ad in the Daily Illini and walked on to coach Leo Johnson’s track and field squad in January 1954. A few weeks later, Dintelmann placed third at the Big Ten Indoor Track Championships.
The News-Gazette’s five-person “fan favorites” piqued my interest this week as I tried to imagine five Illini athletes who flashed more greatness and staying power than Olympic champion Bobby Richards and football superstars Dick Butkus, J.C. Caroline and Buddy Young.
Ralph “Jake” Lanum, a letterman in 1918 for coach Bob Zuppke, was born on Sunday's date in 1896. He helped “Zup’s” Illini win the Western Conference title that season with a 4-0 record, posting shutouts at Iowa (12-0), at Wisconsin (22-0) and at Chicago, as well as at Illinois Field vs. Ohio State.
Administrators administrate. Fundraisers chase money. Professors teach.
In most cases, our jobs aren’t complicated. Salesmen sell. Accountants run numbers. Farmers farm.
But as we’re starting to understand with the travails of the UI’s Mike Thomas, the obligations of a collegiate athletic director run the gamut of complexity.
Happy birthday to United States national women’s soccer coach Jillian Ellis. Born in the United Kingdom, she was a student-athlete at William & Mary, earning third-team All-America honors. Ellis joined the Illini in 1997 after assistant coaching stints at North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia.
Bill Cubit will make his debut as head coach at the University of Illinois on Friday night against Kent State. He’s had two previous first appearances as a head coach, in 1992 at Widener University and 2005 at Western Michigan. Unfortunately for Cubit, both of those debuts resulted in losses (a 40-6 defeat at Gettysburg in ’92 and a 31-19 loss at Virginia in ’05).
It can happen any place, at any time — after football two-a-days at Camp Rantoul or Friday night's volleyball season opener at Huff Hall.
Random drug testing of athletes is as much a part of the university experience as pregame pep talks and postgame press conferences.