If Texas had followed his contract, John Mackovic would be in Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday. Instead, he'll sit in ESPN2's studio at Bristol, Conn.
Fired after last season, Mackovic has three years left on his Texas deal. The school owes Mackovic $600,000 a year, minus the small amount ESPN2 pays him.
CHAMPAIGN – For 16 years, Mike Shine has considered Champaign his adopted hometown.
On Sunday, the Pennsylvania native will receive the strongest confirmation yet that the feeling is mutual. At 2 p.m. in Dodds Park, the Champaign Park District will induct the 1976 Olympic silver medalist into its Tribute to Olympic Athletes.
They''re losing as often as the Chicago Bears.
Fans are grumbling. Players are frustrated. Coaches are in denial.
Wait a minute. Didn''t Illinois end its losing streak Saturday?
After one of the worst performances of his Illinois career, quarterback Mark Hoekstra had a good week of practices, coach Ron Turner said.
On September's steamy artificial turf, trim receivers are granted repeated breathers ... running backs are alternated ... defensive linemen lumber on and off, some as specialist pass rushers and others to blunt the run.
But in the offensive front, 300-pounders almost are never relieved.
URBANA – The day Craig Tiley makes big bucks off his USTA Challenger is the day Brooke Shields shows up to watch Andre Agassi play in it.
But to Illinois' ambitious men's tennis coach, money isn't everything.
>Want to see Illinois coach Ron Turner in a bad mood? Check him out after a team returns a kickoff 99 yards against the Illini for a touchdown. It happened Saturday night for Middle Tennessee State, Sulecio Sanford racing past the Illinois coverage team.
CHAMPAIGN – Got a brother? Justin Willis does. You might have heard of him. Goodness knows Justin sure did, every single day as a Centennial freshman in 1995.
"Little Lenny. That's what I was called the whole time," said Justin, who's busily making a name for himself these days. "Little Lenny."
News and notes from Tuesday''s UI practice:
SAGARIN SAYS: That playing Middle Tennessee State is bad for your rating. Illinois dropped 17 spots, from 62 to 79, in this week''s Sagarin rankings, which are published in USA Today.
The group of 24 football players had everything – size, speed, hype. Especially hype.
Illinois' 1995 class got pegged early as one of the best, not only in the Big Ten but nationally.