Comfort drives Ford's decision

Jason Ford has changed his mind. Which is good news for the Illinois football program.

The two-time News-Gazette All-State running back from Belleville Althoff originally gave a commitment to Iowa in the summer. But Ford reconsidered and will instead sign with Illinois in early February.

Illini earn Big Ten honors

Illini volleyball players Laura BeBruler and Vicki Brown on Monday were named honorable mention All-Big Ten and DeBruler was named to one of the six spots on the league's All-Freshman team. Sophomore libero Ashley Edinger was

the Illini's Sportsmanship Award recipient.

Unit 7 prekindergarten expands with help from state grant

The Unit 7 school district has added two prekindergarten classes that will allow many youngsters to stay closer to home.

Last year, Unit 7 special education director Judy Rushton proposed doubling the number of prekindergarten classes in the district from two to four. The two existing classes were at Unity East Elementary School near Philo, with students from the west side of the district attending in the morning and those from the east side attending in the afternoon.

Former Illini in the NFL

Here's how ex-UI football players fared in Sunday's NFL games:

Smith pulls down MVP honors

MIAMI – If future opponents of the Illinois women's basketball team haven't spent any time trying to figure out how to stop sophomore Jenna Smith, now might be a good time to start.

Smith continued her torrid start to the season with 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 60-59 Illini win against Providence on Sunday in the championship game of the FIU Thanksgiving Classic.

Bob's bowl barometer

News-Gazette college football writer Bob Asmussen offers his BCS lineup and Illinois outlook:

Bowl Confusion System

Confused by the BCS rules and standings?

Who could blame you? The formula used to college football to determine a national champ since 1998 is as mind-boggling as those 4 a.m. shopping lines the day after Thanksgiving. To ease your post-Turkey Day stress — and with Illinois in contention for one of the big-time bowls — N-G college football expert Bob Asmussen spent the weekend face-down in the 68-page manual sent out by the BCS. His family wasn't happy, but sometimes sacrifices must be made to get to the truth. His 10-step program to understanding the BCS follows:

Hardin earns 400th victory

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois' seniors finished their Huff Hall volleyball careers with style Saturday night, sweeping Iowa and giving coach Don Hardin his 400th career victory.

The Illini (16-14, 8-12 Big Ten) defeated the Hawkeyes 30-23, 30-19, 30-23.

Fantastic trip

Marcus Jackson's first high school football season at The News-Gazette ended with Friday's loss by Tuscola in the Class 1A state championship game. In between the start of two-a-days and Friday's trophy presentation, Jackson experienced a wild and wacky ride on the Road to Champaign. His look back:

Island hopper

Staff writer Paul Klee, who's back at it after his working vacation to Hawaii, offers five things he learned last week on the islands: