TOTM Leitch

University of Illinois alum Will Leitch talks with Loren Tate and Scott Beatty on WDWS before the Illinois-Michigan State men's basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, at State Farm Center in Champaign.

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Deadspin founder Will Leitch keeps busy with podcasts, writing books and articles.

Above all else, Leitch is a diehard Illinois basketball fan. That explains why he was at State Farm Center on Tuesday for the Illini game against Michigan State.

It was the Illinois alum and Mattoon native’s annual trip to C-U from his home in much warmer Athens, Ga.

Besides going to the game, Leitch made a guest appearance on WDWS’ “SportsTalk” with Loren Tate and Scott Beatty. And he spoke to Jean McDonald’s journalism class.

Leitch’s impression of the state of Illinois basketball: “It’s really thrilling to have it back again. I watched the games on WCIA growing up, when every game was local. That remains key to Illinois’ success throughout the region. There’s a ton of people like me grew up in the area. Illinois basketball was the Yankees of the area.”

When he moved to Athens, the first thing Leitch did was make sure he had access to BTN.

“I watch every Illinois game,” Leitch said. “I’ve been watching them when they’re bad.”

Leitch is trying to maintain reasonable expectations for the current team: “I just want them to be relevant again.”

Leitch and wife Alexa have two sons: Wynn, 8, and Will, 5.

“They are Illini fans,” Leitch said. “My son has a (Kofi) Cockburn jersey.”

Leitch writes for New York Magazine and His fifth book, a novel, is being released next year.

On to my weekend recommendations:


“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” 10:30 p.m., NBC

Scheduled guests include actor Steve Buscemi.


Illinois at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., BTN

Brad Underwood’s team will try to end a three-game losing streak in Piscataway, N.J.


“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” 10 p.m., HBO

It’s the start of the seventh season for the series, which has won multiple Emmys during its run.

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).