Two Steps Forward.......Three Steps Back.

Two Steps Forward.......Three Steps Back.
The rebuild of the Illinois football program continues as they drop a tough 34-31 loss in overtime to Purdue.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime . . . . .Quiet times on campus

The summer months on the University of Illinois campus tend to be quiet and uneventful. However, the last couple of months the Illinois sports teams have been in the news, and a couple of individual student/athletes have been creating quite a buzz in their respective sports. First, on the football side of things, the announcement of Nathan Scheelhaase as the starting quarterback entering Camp Rantoul has caused some fallout in the ranks. Jacob Charest, who saw some action last season when Juice Williams was benched, has decided to transfer closer to his North Carolina home, most likely because of the Scheelhaase verdict. This leaves true freshman Chandler Whitmer as the backup to Scheelhaase, so if there are any issues early on with the offense (and given the state of the program as of late, that is entirely possible), look for Whitmer to get his feet wet. Personally, I think that Charest made a premature decision by leaving, but I can see the issue from both sides. And, to add to the intrigue, it was announced earlier on Tuesday that former defensive lineman Josh Brent has decided to enter the NFL supplementary draft instead of trying to regain his eligibility. Brent enrolled at Parkland last spring as a measure to increase his grades, but according to a UI spokesman, didn't improve them as much as he needed to, and therefore, is exploring the NFL option instead.

On the basketball front, the men's program continues to point upward, while the women's program remains a question mark. Coach Bruce Weber got yet another commitment from Mychael Henry, which means that the program is in good hands for the distant future. With all of the interest in assistant coach Jerrance Howard lately, the Illini are in need to make a move to keep him in place. However, Jerrance's heart bleeds orange and blue, so that shouldn't be a problem. Howard has been courted by Coach John Calipari of Kentucky, where he was an assistant before coming to the Illini coaching staff. Howard played for the Illini and is a good candidate for a future head coach one day.

Another semester, another player dismissed from the Illini women's team. It really should come as no surprise, but freshman guard Brianna Jones has been booted by Jolette Law for a violation of team rules. Also announced earlier this week was the transfer of Fabiola Josil to North Florida. This has become a broken record of sorts, with the total of players leaving the program for one reason or another increasing on a yearly basis. Something needs to be done about this and quick, or else this program will remain in limbo and will never rise to the level that it is capable of.

Now for some better news. Illini junior Scott Langley made quite a splash in the golfing world recently. Langley won the individual title in the NCAA Tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then won a US Open qualifier in his home area of St. Louis to get to play with the pros at Pebble Beach. Langley finished the tournament at 8 over par, shooting a 292 for the weekend, giving him a tie for 16th place overall. Not a bad showing for the youngster, who insists that he will be back at Illinois for his senior season to try and help the Illini win the NCAA team title next season.

Finally, Illini track and field standout Angela Bizzari has completed a sensational season on the track, winning the Dike Eddelman award for the third time. This is unprecedented, and I am sure that she has an Olympic future in front of her. Bizzari had to withdraw from the 5000 meters at the NCAA Championships, citing a case of nerves as the culprit.

Enjoy the rest of the summer folks, as Camp Rantoul is only 50 days away!