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It's not quite as big as, say, State Farm Center, but JESSE NAUMAN's "Illini Room" in the basement of his house in Granville takes up serious space.

"At some point, it became an obsession," the 41-year-old UI grad said of his memorabilia collection. "I'm just about out of room."

Nauman bought his house in 2014. A year later, he had a finished basement that today serves as an orange and blue shrine, stuffed with everything from Bob Zuppke paintings to Ray Nitschke's varsity letter certificate to Chief Illiniwek whiskey decanters to seats from Huff Hall.

"I'm not into current stuff — that's too easy," he said. "I like older things."

Nauman was back on campus last week as a guest of the alumni association's LOU LIAY, thoroughly enjoying the upset of Michigan State.

"Our fan base deserves this," he said, "for the things we've been through."

Those fans are welcome to tour his "Illini Room" when in Putnam County. Former Illini SERGIO McCLAIN did, even signing his electrical box.

"My intent is to one day relax in" the basement, Nauman said. "But for now, I just end up working every time I go down there."


Do you have your own Illini tribute? Email N-G Media's Jim Rossow at

Vice President of News

Jim Rossow is vice president of news at The News-Gazette. His email is