Loren Tate

Loren Tate

Tate: Groce's job status is talk of town

Do fans matter? Do university leaders simply view Gus Phan, that collective fellow, as an unavoidable necessity?

Well, the suits-on-high better care. Who else built those multimillion-dollar stadiums and arenas? Gus fills the seats. Companies supporting a proliferation of games on TV count on Gus to watch their commercials.

Tate: A laugher in West Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Look up intimidation in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Mackey Arena.

They suffocate the players, the top row of this tightly packed basketball gym only slightly more distant from the court than the initial rows of old C-Section of the State Farm Center.

Purdue students filled their bleacher seats an hour before Tuesday’s tipoff.

Tate: Who will step up at guard for Illini?

College basketball has become a guard’s game.

Forget the Big Dipper and the Sky Hook. Shaq does commercials now. Villanova won the NCAA title last season with Jalen Brunson earning his spurs alongside guards Josh Hart and Ryan Arciadiacono.

The multiple championship runs by UConn (2011 and 2014) and Duke (2010 and 2015) were propelled by extraordinary backcourt play.

Tate: Illini let big chance slip away

CHAMPAIGN — Despite what happened on Dec. 27 at Maryland— an 84-59 embarrassment — the Illini had their fans thinking positive for much of Saturday.

Tate: Youngsters not one-off show for Illini

An established tenet for judging athletes is never to be overly influenced by game performances after the outcome is decided.

Tate: Coaching success hard to judge

John Beilein, who unleashes another bouncy gang of Wolverines jump shooters tonight at State Farm Center, is one of America’s unique coaches.

Michigan is his sixth stop in a 39-year career (beginning in junior college), and he never has been an assistant. He always has been the boss.

Tate: Let's talk about what athletic types won't

Nick Saban used the word “great” four times in his first sentence about Clemson at the college football national championship pregame press conference in Tampa.

But wouldn’t you rather have heard what the Alabama football coach confided with his staff as they began breaking down film in search of Clemson’s weaknesses in their staff meeting?

Tate: Illini not ready for the big boys

Here’s the good news: Indiana won’t bring its basketball bombers to Champaign this season.

Considering the last three spankings ­— 103-69 and 74-47 last season, and 96-80 there Saturday — the Illini are better off casting their rod into shallower water.

Tate: Fan bases frustrated at UI, IU

Call Saturday’s UI-IU contest a showdown of the “unhappies.”

Indiana basketball fans, grudgingly hanging onto the Bob Knight era, just watched their candy stripers fall to Wisconsin for the 16th time in 18 meetings, marking the team’s third consecutive loss on Hoosiers soil.

Tate: Postseason football shows playoff system imperfect

It is appropriate for football’s playoff committee to select the top four teams based on a full season’s performance.

But you don’t get the strongest teams that way. In analyzing squads from Penn State to USC, and from Houston to Louisville, the leaders in September aren’t necessarily the best in December. Teams change. Some dramatically, making it an imperfect system.