University of Illinois motto: “H” is for “hayseed”

SHARE University of Illinois motto: “H” is for “hayseed”

University of Illinois athletics is Gooberville.

We’re still sorting through all the various controversies, scandals and complaints swirling around the athletic department, but it’s impossible to look at athletic director Mike Thomas and football coach Tim Beckman without rolling your eyes.

Whenever I look at them, and even at men’s basketball coach John Groce, I think of every bad halftime speech given by every wild-eyed coach at every high school scraping up against a field of cornstalks.

Except this is the University of Illinois, and we deserve better from our flagship school.

Beckman’s act Thursday at the Big Ten’s media day was an embarrassment. Nobody was expecting him to go into detail about the allegations by former players that he mismanaged injuries and was abusive. But he based his opening comments on “Oskee,’’ a word from the school’s fight song, using each letter to describe something he deems important to the program. Just know that “k’’ stands for “knowledge.’’ The second “e’’ should have stood for “enough of this guy.’’

Beckman concluded his statement by saying the Illini are a “band of brothers,’’ perhaps because that has been every football coach’s default rallying cry for the past 20 years or so.

The problem at Illinois, besides the preponderance of knuckleheads, is that institutional mediocrity has made it a destination for small-time administrators and coaches, which is how you end up with a football coach from the University of Toledo and a basketball coach from Ohio University. Illinois: where Mid-American Conference coaches go to get rich. The day the Illini hire a successful coach from a big-time conference is the day you’ll see tears of joy streaming down my face.

Instead, we get this:

“I’ve had an opportunity to spend some quality time with the wife and kids,’’ Beckman said of his offseason. “I got to spend the month of June with our football ‘sons’ and the month of July with my family. It’s been a blessing.’’

When is prom?

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