WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In practices leading up to Saturday''s game at Purdue, Illinois assistant coach Greg McMahon told E.B. Halsey he''d return a punt for a touchdown.
"He actually said that," Halsey said, "and I believed him."
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – We don''t really need to remind you what happened late Saturday afternoon. Surely you watched it, yelling at the TV at every big play, rushing to grab snacks at any commercial break and blaming the coaches when things went wrong.
But as a reader service, we''ll give you the final score one more time:
CHAMPAIGN – The yellow hankie first caught Jeff Ruffin''s attention as he was jumping up and down in the end zone.
At the time, the Illinois defensive lineman dismissed it as nothing too important.
CHAMPAIGN – The yards are nice, and E.B. Halsey is finding all sorts of ways to get them.
But for the Illinois freshman, they''re as unsatisfying as the outcome of Saturday''s game, a 38-20 Illini loss to Wisconsin.
Those of us who aren''t convinced Illinois can recover from another 1-3 start need to spend a little more time with Pete Elliott.
The former Illinois coach knows a thing or two about football U-turns. He managed to direct a program that had lost 15 of 17 games to a Rose Bowl championship in less time than it takes C-U bars to change last call.
CHAMPAIGN – Jon Beutjer did his best Jimmy V on Saturday.
He didn''t give up – didn''t ever give up – against California. But the result was as it has been so often for Beutjer at Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN – In an attempt to gauge the fragile state of Illinois football accurately, we at The News-Gazette commissioned an expensive, highly scientific survey of fans at Saturday''s game against Cal.
The expensive part: $6.50 for a hot dog and soft drink to occupy time in between interviews.
The scientific part: Grab as many fans as we could leaving Memorial Stadium after the Illini''s latest we-should-have-won loss.
The results: Illinois sure is good in men''s tennis.
PASADENA, Calif. – He hit a high percentage of his passes. Just like he usually does. But the three that got away will be the ones that bother Jon Beutjer.
The Illinois quarterback had three interceptions Saturday night against UCLA. That''s two more than he had in Illinois'' first two games combined.
PASADENA, Calif. – UCLA employs an annoying old-timer to roam the sidelines with a megaphone, urging thousands of tanned fans to yell as if a surfing contest is taking place.
So when John Gockman lined up to kick a 43-yard field goal that would have tied Saturday''s game in the waning seconds, the aging cheerleader had the Rose Bowl sounding like it does Jan. 1.
Archie Griffin would rather donate one of his Heisman Trophy awards to Michigan than see the NFL mess with the Rose Bowl.
"I would hope, if they do something, they''d keep it a bowl," Griffin said. "Don''t make it look too different."