Bears won''t disrupt UI football schedule

   CHAMPAIGN  It might be a bit congested near Memorial Stadium on four Sundays in the fall. But Ron Turner said his team still plans to practice.

   Turner was pleased to find out the Chicago Bears have four Sunday home games during the Illinois season.

Bears, C-U primed for prime time

   CHAMPAIGN  John Madden. The Maddencruiser. Al Michaels. Monday Night Football.

   Coming to a stadium near you ... on Oct. 7.

UI punter overcomes rare illness

   CHAMPAIGN  He is as big as ever. And stronger.

   Hard to believe it is the same Matt Minnes. The guy who almost lost his life to a rare illness last summer.

Illini begin quarterback competition

   CHAMPAIGN  The cameras and tape recorders moved from red jersey to red jersey Wednesday. First, Jon Beutjer. Next, Dustin Ward. Then, Mark Kornfeld.

   It was the first day of the Illinois quarterback derby. The winner of the three-player race gets to take over the defending Big Ten champions and replace one of the best in school history, Kurt Kittner.

UI baseball and tennis

   Illini add game. Illinois and Western Michigan will play a doubleheader Tuesday, rather than a single game, to help offset a series of weather-related cancellations.

Self''s not ready to hit the road

   CHAMPAIGN  Bill Self was on the road to Springfield, a coaching friend on his cellphone, a reporter beeping in on the other line.

   It was that kind of Wednesday for the man who today still is the Illinois basketball coach (despite what you might have heard), a day when broadcast reports had him mulling an offer to become the new basketball coach at Arkansas.

Powell, Lockhart see stars

   Illini senior All-America wrestlers Griff Powell and John Lockhart will compete Friday at the Spirit of the Heartland all-star dual meet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Chief can´t be counted out just yet

   Chicagoan Roger Plummer deserves a medal. Aided by innovative semisecrecy  as a one-man committee, he evaded the open meetings act under which the UI board of trustees operates  Plummer came to a brilliant but obvious conclusion, reducing the Chief Illiniwek question to two alternatives: retain or retire.

   No compromise. No attempt to pacify both sides by staking out common ground. No eliminating the dance but keeping a nonmoving symbol during the three-in-one music.

A new beginning

   This is Bill Self''s offseason. On a snowy central Illinois morning, the Illinois basketball coach already has conducted a lengthy interview with the Indianapolis Star, which has sought his help in analyzing the Final Four.

   (He''s something of an expert, having coached against three of the teams headed to Atlanta.)

Experience could help end UI trend

   OK, Ron Turner, now it''s your turn. - Illinois has produced three consecutive Big Ten championships in the major sports  an undisputed football crown sandwiched between two shared basketball titles  and it''ll be Turner''s turn in the fall.

   Before we slide over recent accomplishments, consider that Illinois went 47 years with two shared championships in basketball before getting a piece of three in the last five seasons  and the 2001 football title was just the fourth in 48 years.