Clock ticking, Illini clicking

CHAMPAIGN – There are no more weekends without games. Not, at least, until mid-October.

Ron Zook's first Illinois training camp ended Saturday. His first game week started Monday.

Steelers dump Illini pair

PITTSBURGH – Former Illini Matt Cushing, a run-blocking tight end who has played on and off for the Pittsburgh Steelers for six seasons, was among 10 players released Monday. Also cut was former Illinois receiver Walter Young.

Only one other experienced player, wide receiver Chris Doering, was waived.

Illini offense starts slow

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The No. 13 Illinois soccer team played to a scoreless tie Sunday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Illinois (0-1-1) outshot the Panthers 18-17 and took six corner kicks to Wisconsin-Milwaukee's two.

Be our guess

A sampling from this year's predictions on the UI football season:

Zook had no control over scheduling of on-the-rise Knights

CHAMPAIGN – The ink has been dry for a while on the Illinois-Rutgers game contract. Nine-plus years of dry.

The schools signed the deal June 5, 1996. For Illinois, that was three coaches ago. For Rutgers, it was two.

Brett's random thoughts

Pop singer Nick Lachey (Mr. Jessica Simpson) called the Cincinnati Enquirer this week to offer his take on Bob Huggins' ouster from Lachey's hometown school, Cincinnati. The longtime Bearcats fan railed university President Nancy Zimpher, saying the decision to release Huggins was "about egos."

Zook hopes Saturday etiquette classes pay off

CHAMPAIGN – The playbook looked drastically different Saturday for the Illinois football players. So did the field.

Instead of lessons on blocking and tackling to get ready for Rutgers, they were learning about unfolding their napkins and which fork to use at their next formal dinner.

Let's make a deal

The good story is that Bruce Weber marched into Ron Guenther's office this spring with a list of demands.

And why wouldn't he? Weber, after all, was coming off the finest season in the history of Illinois basketball. He was the most decorated coach of 2004-05, winning a truckload of national Coach of the Year awards and guiding the Illini to the Final Four for the first time since 1989.

Dawson: Brock, Randle get handle on their role

Relatively speaking, Brian Randle has had it easy.

He played significant minutes his freshman year at Illinois, but as a freshman, any contribution was a bonus. The onus (and the heat) was on veterans to carry the Illini in a Sweet 16 season. And last year, Randle didn't play at all, victim of a broken hand.

Tate: There's no coaching bargains anymore

College coaching salaries have soared off the charts.

But in this era of million-dollar deals, Lou Henson earned a unique slot in 1997-98 when he came out of retirement at New Mexico State, accepting the basketball job for a fee of $1 a month.