Things look pretty grim right now, athletics-wise, for the University of Illinois.
It’s not like the academic side of the university is having a banner year, either, what with high-profile administrators quitting or getting fired, student acceptance rates going down and our beloved state itself, whose taxes help fund the flagship school, being as deep in the red as Caitlyn Jenner’s lipstick.
But the firing of football coach Tim Beckman pretty much raised the white flag on gridiron matters. And athletic director Mike Thomas suddenly believes a student whistleblower he derided just four months ago. Silly. Sad.
But don’t worry. The Illini can come back faster than you can say, ‘‘41 of the 121 players on Florida’s 2008 national championship roster were arrested by 2013.’’
Do you remember that? Nah. The stats are from a New York Times investigation. Who cares?
Yep, our buddy Urban Meyer, now a champ-een at Ohio State, was the Gators coach back then. And Aaron Hernandez, now doing life in prison for murder, was his tight end.
But again, who cares? Ohio State is the preseason repeat national champion pick, and Florida, well, it slipped a ways, but it could be a dark horse. And its slide isn’t anything that whuppin’ everyone in the SEC won’t fix.
Seriously, do you remember the earth-shattering basketball point-shaving scandal at Arizona State in the mid-1990s? How ASU’s reputation was ruined and might never recover?
A guy named Stevin ‘‘Hedake’’ (pronounced ‘‘Head Ache’’) Smith and a pal rigged Sun Devils games in unique fashion, so surreptitiously that Smith was able to fix a game against Oregon State, even as he made 10 three-pointers, tying his own PAC-10 record, and scoring 39 points. Ruin ASU? Yes, Smith went to federal prison. But the Sun Devils have had five 20-win seasons in the last eight years, and Bobby Hurley is their new high-profile coach.
How about Notre Dame and student football videographer Declan Sullivan falling from a tower in high wind and dying back in 2010? Or Lizzy Seeberg, a Saint Mary’s College freshman, who committed suicide that year after accusing an Irish football player of sexually assaulting her in a Notre Dame residence hall?
Anybody care about that old sexual mess involving first-round NFL pick Jameis Winston at Florida State? Or Boston College’s point-shaving scandal? Or Northwestern’s, for that matter? Or North Carolina’s academic fraud? Or Maurice Clarett at Ohio State? Or a million things at Miami?
Should I even mention Penn State?
Water under, over, around the bridge. All of it. Just bring on the games!
Bottom line? Illinois can get out of this sports mess just as soon as it kicks butt on the court and field.
It’s America, where patience is short and memory shorter. Hoo-rah!