Sports

Sports

Commitments keep Illini on their minds

Brit Miller had heard rumors all morning, but the Decatur Eisenhower senior didn''t get the news on Ron Turner''s firing until late afternoon when his father, Randy, showed up at the school.

"I was anxious to see what was going to happen," said Miller, who already has committed to Illinois. "I knew the time was coming around to keep him or name a new coach for next year. I''m committed to the U of I, not any one man or one coach. I''m just anxious to find out how the thing will turn out."

Loyalty never a question with Turner, assistants

Tony Lombardi coached college football for 18 years from Wisconsin to the XFL before landing at Hinsdale Central, so he knows the nature of the football business. With Illinois struggling on the field the past two seasons, he knew head coach Ron Turner was in trouble.

"I''ve been fired before, and I know what the deal is," Lombardi said. "It''s the way it goes. It''s a situation where I think it was inevitable with the record they had. I don''t think it''s a reflection of him at all. He''s a good man, but it''s a production-based business."

Scramble for playing time about to begin

As the team struggled, Illinois'' E.B. Halsey started fielding questions from his friends and family in New Jersey. They would ask him what would happen if coach Ron Turner left the program because of what Halsey called an almost "father-son" relationship.

Halsey, who played through injuries and was Illinois'' second-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver, got the same question Monday.

Long-term security a thing of the past

CHAMPAIGN – Bruce Weber is less than a year removed from a Big Ten basketball championship.

It doesn''t give him the job security you''d expect.

What they''re saying

Comments about Ron Turner and the search for a new football coach:

Deja vu all over again for Roushar

CHAMPAIGN – Eight years later, the news hit just as hard. And in the exact same room at the Illinois football offices.

Dan Roushar was part of Lou Tepper''s staff that was fired in 1996. Roushar followed the routine of most college coaches, packing up the family and taking another job. Roushar''s next stop was at Northern Illinois, where he worked with the offensive linemen on Joe Novak''s staff.

''Things will work out''

CHAMPAIGN – Before he entered the news conference to announce his firing Monday, former Illinois head football coach Ron Turner stopped to chat with junior Morris Virgil. Even with everything that happened during the past two days, the two just talked about Saturday''s game.

"Coach is just Coach," Virgil said. "He''s real calm about the situation. He knew the business aspect."

Level of cooperation always high at Illinois

Dick Duval had a feeling that bad news was coming about Ron Turner on Monday. But the St. Joseph-Ogden football coach was disappointed like many area coaches.

Duval''s daughter, Bobbi, worked for Turner as a manager and spent the past season as a graduate assistant in football operations. So the Duval family has a lot of respect and admiration for Turner.

Who''s that Illini

As a prep, I led Urbana High School to second place in the 1941 state tournament. I wore number 48 and played for both Coach Doug Mills and Coach Harry Combes at Illinois. I initially joined the Illini for the last four games of the 1945-46 season following a 30-month stint in the army. I was the regular center for Illinois'' Whiz Kids in 1947, ranking as the team''s third-highest scorer behind Andy Phillip and Ken Menke. Altogether, I scored 471 points in 69 career games at Illinois. I enjoyed a successful career in law following my playing days, serving 42 years in the judiciary. Today I celebrate my 81st birthday.

Grentz brings team home for the holiday

CHAMPAIGN – Danyel Crutcher had no idea what was in store for her and the rest of the Illinois women''s basketball team.

When the Illini travel to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph''s tonight, Illinois coach Theresa Grentz will be back in her hometown, playing against the school where she began her coaching career in 1974.