Dietz: Hopkins' time in Tennessee, league could be limited

NASHVILLE – How long has Brad Hopkins been in the National Football League? Long enough to confuse some of his young Tennessee Titans teammates.

"Some of them don't know we were ever in Houston," Hopkins said. "I tell them I've been on the team for 13 years, and they see that we've only been in Nashville for nine years. It's funny."

Tate: Big Ten's back on upswing

After coming dangerously close to grounding itself, the arrow is pointing up again in Big Ten basketball.

Yes, the conference fell short again in late November's Big Ten/ACC Challenge (6 to 5), but with the exception of Purdue, the general health and vitality is on the rise.

Who's that Illini?

An Olympic silver medalist, I am linked in Games history to Great Britain's Eric Liddell, one of the primary subjects of the Oscar-winning film "Chariots of Fire." The movie focused on Liddell's religion-based decision not to enter the 100 meters at the 1924 Olympics because race heats were scheduled on the Sabbath. That choice prevented a much-anticipated duel with fellow countryman Harold Abrahams from taking place. Instead, Liddell entered the 200 and 400, beating me in the latter in 47.6 seconds. I was second in 48.4.

One shining 2005

A look back at the best year in Illini basketball history:

UI makes it three<br>in a row

I am one of the best golfers ever to come out of Champaign-Urbana. At Centennial High, I won IHSA Class AA stat titles in 1988 and 1989. Then I took my game to Illinois, where I was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and the 1993 Big Ten tournament champion. By the time I was through, my career average of 74.71 strokes ranked behind only Steve Stricker on the all-time UI list. It still stands fifth on that chart.

Illinois Career Records

Record holders at Illinois:

Tate: Augustine a career rebounder

CHAMPAIGN – Robert Bennett, a springy Chicago forward, averaged five-plus rebounds during his Illini career in the early-mid '90s.

And after each game, you could remember every one. He was flamboyant in a gravity-defying way.

Corn-fueled stoves causing a real heat wave

Corn is the new king when it comes to heating stoves.

It appears that every manufacturer of corn-fueled stoves in the United States and Canada is facing a backlog of orders because of the huge demand. Both manufacturers and dealers seem to have been caught by surprise by the wave of consumer interest.

Illini ready to ring in Big Ten

CHAMPAIGN – Tonight the ball drops and Dick Clark (sort of) rocks and folks coast to coast butcher "Auld Lang Syne."

But the Illinois basketball team is ringing in a different kind of new year.

Shot of confidence for McBride

CHAMPAIGN – Rich McBride hit a career-high seven three-pointers and scored 21 points to come within one point of his personal high. After delivering the night's top performance in Illinois' 84-46 win Friday night, he came up with the night's best understatement.

"I guess you could say (I was feeling it)," McBride said. "My teammates did a great job of screening for me, and obviously our point guard does a great job of seeing the floor. That helped me out a lot."