â†µRon Zook is mostly known as a recruiter-albeit one â†µwho can't recruit right now-and a frat-attacking, water-skiing, â†µterrible football coach. Last year his charges came off a disappointing â†µ5-7 season with renewed purpose, a senior Juice Williams, and this â†µyear's #2 draft prospect at wide receiver. They went 3-9 in year five. â†µâ†µ
â†µZook thinks a major problem with Illinois are the people who think â†µthis is not so good: â†µ
â†µâ‡¥"Sometimes I think as a university and as a group of fans, we shoot â†µâ‡¥ourselves in the foot. The negative recruiting, it all stems from us, â†µâ‡¥from our own people. Rather than getting behind the program, they want â†µâ‡¥to start lambasting it. â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥''The negative recruiting was the worst I've ever seen it this year. â†µâ‡¥But a lot of that is our own people. There's not enough people that â†µâ‡¥believe this program can be where it can be. You're changing attitudes. â†µâ‡¥You're changing beliefs. 'There they go again. They can't sustain it.' â†µâ‡¥When you go back and look at what's happened the last 25 years, it's â†µâ‡¥going to take a tough son of a [gun] to get through that." â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µHere Zook asks Illinois fans to defy their own senses. The criticism â†µlevied at the Illini program is a devastatingly true one. Two years â†µafter Illinois makes a miraculous Rose Bowl, they go 3-9. The BCS bid â†µbefore that, when Kurt Kittner led Illinois to the Sugar Bowl, saw Ron â†µTurner fired three years later after going 5-7, 1-11, and 3-8. The last â†µtime Illinois was even kind of good before that was John Mackovic's tenure in â†µthe late 80s and early 90s, and after a couple good seasons he went off â†µto Texas. This ushered in the five year tenure of Lou Tepper, who never â†µwent better than 7-5. The time before that, Mike White led the Illini to â†µa Rose Bowl in 1983, then never managed more than seven wins in the â†µremainder of a mediocre career that ended in NCAA scandal. â†µâ†µ
â†µIn fact, if you look over the long and generally undistinguished â†µhistory of Illinois football, the last burst of sustained success came â†µfrom 1950 to 1953, when the Illini went 7-2, 9-0-1, 4-5, and 7-1-1. If â†µyou're younger than about sixty you've never seen Illinois be good for â†µtwo consecutive years. â†µâ†µ
â†µSo, yeah, it's hard to blame Illini fans. They'd have to be crazy to think â†µanything else. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.