Stricker's play makes major gains

TROON, Scotland — Steve Stricker showed up at Royal Troon thinking this might be his last major championship.

The former Illini can count on three more.

More in store for Martinez

CHAMPAIGN — Isaiah Martinez took what he said was his first real break in three years after winning his first NCAA title in 2015.

The Lemoore, Calif., native and rising Illinois redshirt junior traveled plenty, working wrestling camps across the country, but put his own training on the back burner.

Martinez is still hitting the camp circuit this summer.

A look at late arrivals

While he never suited up at Tulane, Kipper Nichols is, technically, the ninth transfer to Illinois in the John Groce era. Beat writer SCOTT RICHEY breaks down how the other eight fared in Orange and Blue:

Sam McLaurin (2012-13)

Kipper Nichols makes himself at home

CHAMPAIGN — John Groce joked about his “oldest team in the country” during his Monday afternoon appearance at the 27th annual Kendall Gill Golf Outing, saying his pair of sixth-year seniors were hitting the streets of Champaign looking for senior discounts.

Top 50 College Football Teams of 2016: No. 18, Florida

Coach: Jim McElwain

2015 record: 10-4

Projected 2016 record: 9-3

Circle the date: Nov. 26 at Florida State

Bowl trip: Outback

Top 50 Illini Football Players of 2016: No. 18, Julian Jones

No. 18: Julian Jones, LB

Sunday Conversation: Kim Dameron

Kim Dameron didn’t have it easy coming to coach Eastern Illinois football. He had to replace Dino Babers, whose two-year run with the Panthers included a 19-7 record and two consecutive FCS playoff appearances. But Dameron, about to start his third season in charge at EIU, brought the Panthers back to the playoffs a year ago and has lofty expectations entering the 2016 season.

Daniels: O'Donnell pumped for new era

CHAMPAIGN — The last Illinois football team to post a winning Big Ten record is one Martin O’Donnell knows well.

It’s because the current Illini radio analyst, about to enter his second season providing apt description and insight next to play-by-play partner Brian Barnhart, was an offensive lineman on the 2007 team that ended up playing in the Rose Bowl under Ron Zook.

First and 10: Crucial early-season games

This week’s list: Will the Big Ten find itself in the Final Four for the third consecutive season? How well Jim Delany’s league does in these 10 critical nonconference games will go a long way in determining that:

1. Ohio State at Oklahoma

Tate: Big Ten TV success envy of college world

Due to a series of hopefully nonrecurring problems, the UI athletic department was splashing red ink when Josh Whitman took the reins in early March.