Die-Hard Illini Fan Dies Hard

Last week’s Braggin’ Rights game notwithstanding, fans of the Fighting Illini know a thing or two about choking.

In basketball, no team has more NCAA tournament wins (40) without ever winning a national title. The last time the football team won a bowl game on New Year’s Day, Jeff George was considered a promising future star in the NFL.

Normally though, it’s the players that choke during the big performance, not a fan choking before the big performance has even begun.

But that’s exactly what happened to 86 year-old Johnny Orris, a lifelong Fighting Illini fan, and winner of a Howard Stern radio show contest called, “I Want to Get My Grandpa Laid.”

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You see, Orris (center above), won a threesome at a legal brothel in Nevada with these two working girls, Caressa Kisses and Vanity (your guess is as good as mine).  According to reports, on the eventful night, Orris was in such a hurry to claim his prize that he choked on his steak dinner and died.

Rest in peace, Johnny. You came closer to a threesome than most sports bloggers ever will. No idea what was inscribed on your tombstone, but here’s a reasonable guess:

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We Brought A ZOU

The format of the Mizzou chant eerily resembles that of a knock-knock joke.  One large group yells “M-I-Z”.  Another large group responds with “Z-O-U”.  This complex cycle of human interaction usually continues until someone passes out from oxygen deficiency or sees something shiny.

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Missouri is nothing if not loyal.

ESPN’s SportsNation released a digital survey yesterday that asked a very simple question.

“Which team will win the SEC Championship game in Atlanta: Auburn or Missouri?”

Given that the teams have similar 11-1 records and both are coming off an impressive finish this season, an outside observer would likely guess that this question is a toss-up with potential favoritism leaning towards Auburn since they knocked off Alabama this past Saturday.

Alas, that’s not how it worked out.

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Aw, good ole Missouri.

Even Alaska isn’t convinced of Gary Pinkel’s squad, but the bigger story is that they have the internet up there.  Who knew?

We sifted through our archives and discovered that this isn’t the first time the state of Missouri remaining staunchly loyal in their online polling and if history is any indicator, the SEC Championship game should end well for citizens of the Show Me State.

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Illinois-Purdue Suckfest Sparks Latest JFK Assassination Conspiracy

Today marks the 50th anniversary of president John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

In seemingly unrelated news, a half dollar coin buys you any number of tickets on Stub Hub to tomorrow’s Illinois-Purdue football game in West Lafayette, IN.

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The half dollar coin, as you know, bears the likeness of JFK.

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The half dollar coin, as you may not know, is also worth 50 cents.

50th anniversary of the shooting, 50 cent coin, 50 cent tickets…sure, it may all seem coincidental, but it raises many important questions: Was this a coordinated effort by the two schools to honor the former president the only way they know how, with embarrassingly terrible play? Was there a second gunman behind the grassy knoll? Did the CIA invent crack cocaine? Does the government keep our primal instincts in check (and our teeth clean) through water fluoridation?  Is Scientology the one, true faith? What the heck is gluten really, anyway?

Somebody call Oliver Stone. Me thinks I smell a conspiracy. Or better yet, just go to the Tivoli tonight and tell him in person.

Whoah. Mind blown.

Just like an obsessed conspiracy theorist, I’m sure many Illinois and Purdue fans want to believe there’s some deep, dark, secret reason behind the lousy state of their football programs.

Then again, it could simply be that both teams are awful, Stub Hub doesn’t have an option to give tickets away, and Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Case in point: Next week the Illini host Northwestern. A ticket to that epic battle will set you back more than a Kennedy coin, but not by much.

illinois-nw-stubhub

I like how the ticket to the game is $1.80, but a parking pass is still $15.

By that math, it’s over eight times more desirable to drive to Champaign and just stand in the parking lot for three hours than it is to go into the game and actually watch the Illini.

It sounds crazy, but that might be the only thing we really know for sure.

Babies Breathe Sigh of Relief Following Illini Tournament Exit

The NCAA tournament and ramps back up tonight, but there won’t be any local entrees available on the menu of games. Missouri, SLU and Illinois all made abrupt exits from the big dance last week as https://sports.bwin.com/en/sports had predicted.

Of those three, it has become abundantly clear, that for the sake of babies everywhere across the Land of Lincoln, it was a good thing Illinois lost its hard fought battle with Miami to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Want proof of this theory? Well, now that the regular college basketball season is over, the Big Ten Network has commenced its customary assault on viewers with its unlimited arsenal of “B1G Classic” games. Just try and argue that newborns aren’t safer with Illinois out of contention after watching this clip of the famed 1989 Flyin’ Illini team that eventually reached the Final Four:

I don’t know what that baby is doing now, most likely working as a civil engineer. But I’d bet that baby grew up to be one of those people that can sleep anywhere. Man, I envy those people.

Anyway, maybe this video only confirms what most Missouri fans have long suspected: that most die-hard Illini fans were either shaken or dropped as newborns.

It also jogs the memory of a related incident that occurred last spring when a rabid Illini fan used his newborn to – all of things – procure an autograph from Illini offensive lineman Graham Pocic.

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You win back-to-back bowl games in consecutive years for the first time in school history, and all of a sudden people are signing babies. Oh, the humanity.

Yes, it’s a good thing the Hurricanes held on last Sunday. If there’s one thing incidents like this prove it’s that Excited Illini fans = Baby Abuse.

JSF Power Rankings: Most Brutal Mizzou Tournament Losses

In an unfortunate way, Mizzou is a fairly notable school when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers have earned the prestigious title of “most tournament appearances without making a Final Four”, and can also stand toe-to-toe with most others when it comes to suffering brutal tournament losses. 

Mizzou has experienced many variations of depressing tournament beat down.  The crushing buzzer beaters, the inexplicable upset loss that spawns a Cinderella story and most everything in between. 

With their first round game set for Thursday night, it seems appropriate to rank the most brutal losses in Mizzou’s Tournament history.  Typically, we’d limit it to five entries, but c’mon this is Mizzou we’re talking about.  Five wasn’t enough…

6.) Rhode Island 87, Mizzou 80 (March 17, 1988)

A team that featured four eventual NBA players in Derrick Chievous, Byron Irvin, Doug Smith and 7-footer Gary Leonard, came into the season ranked #15, but fell into a late season tailspin. 

Going in as a 6 seed, the Tigers were favored to take down relatively unknown Rhode Island, but instead took another step towards strengthening their reputation as Tournament first round chokers.  Tom Penders’ Rhode Island team added Syracuse as another upset victim before taking Duke to the wire in the Sweet 16.

MUTourneyRI

5.) Xavier 70, Mizzou 69 (Mach 12, 1987)

The Band-Aid Man, Derrick Chievous posted a career high 24 points a game and carried the Tigers into the the Top 15 in the nation and a 4 seed in the Tournament.  They ended the regular season on an 8-game win streak, won the Big 8 regular season and conference tournament titles and added a horrible team rap video to their accomplishments.  They were hot.

But in typical Mizzou fashion, they cooled themselves down just long enough to let up and coming 13 seed Xavier knock them out by a single point.  As much as fans wanted them to turn that emotion into a team power ballad video, they left us hanging. 

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4.) Houston 79, Mizzou 78 (March 19, 1982)

Legends Jon Sunvold, Ricky Frazier and Steve Stipanovich carried the Tigers to a top 5 ranking in early January and kept them there through the start of the Tournament where they landed a #2 seed and first round bye.

The Sweet 16 is where they met up with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s Phi Slamma Jamma and took only their fourth loss of the season, derailing what was likely their most realistic shot at a National Championship.

Just as an added gut punch, this loss took place at a joint you may have heard off called “The Arena” right here in St. Louis.

MUTourneyHou

3.) Northern Iowa 74, Mizzou 71 (March 16, 1990)

Anytime you follow a team that is led by two of the best players in school history (Anthony Peeler and Doug Smith) and held the #1 spot in the rankings for four weeks during the season, you’re pretty much banking on them making at least a bit of noise in the Tourney. 

Instead, Mizzou fans got to see one of the most promising teams in their history get beat by #14 seed Northern Iowa on a dramatic, last-second three pointer that seemed like it was tossed up from roughly 50 feet out.  The Tigers had already established themselves as a shaky tournament team over the years, but this was the final nail in the coffin and rated as the biggest first round upset of the 1990 tournament.

MUTourneyUNI

2.) UCLA 75, Mizzou 74 (March 19, 1995)

No explanation needed. In fact, if you want to see a replay of Tyus Endey’s now-famous end-to-end layup with under five seconds to go in the game, just watch CBS because they’re sure to play it about 20 times in their intro/outro montages. 

The Tigers probably weren’t going to win the national championship if they beat UCLA, but it still doesn’t feel good when your team gets kicked in the nads on national television and you get to relive it annually. 

MUTourneyUCLA

1.) Norfolk State 86, Mizzou 84 (March 16, 2012)

This one still stings, folks. The Tigers rallied around new coach Frank Haith and put up a 30-4 regular season record including a Big 12 Tournament championship in their final year in the conference. Going in to the tournament, this team just seemed different than its predecessors.  It was too consistent, too disciplined to lose a fluke game in the first round. They had been so damn good Mizzou fans were justifiably pissed that they received a #2 seed. 

Even the freaking president thought they were going to the Final Four.

It took two hours to flush all that down the toilet and instead the 2012 Tigers limped back to Columbia and into the history books as one of the unfortunate handful of #2 seeds that were knocked off in the opening round.  As for Norfolk State? They went on to get destroyed by 34 in the second round against Florida.  So much for getting beaten by Cinderella. 

MUTourney Norfolk

The one benefit of the 2013 Mizzou team’s maddening inconsistency is that, should they lose tomorrow as a #9 seed against Colorado State, it probably won’t make this list next year.

Thoughts From a Message Board: Arkansas Fans on Frank Haith

For as much as the Arkansas faithful refuse to concede that Mizzou has emerged as a natural rival in basketball, they are far less stubborn when it comes to firing off shots on their favorite message board, Hogville.net.  For every 1 unfortunate soul that is crushed when they find out they have not stumbled onto an obese fetish dating site, there were 10 that saw an opportunity last night to air their grievances specifically aimed at Mizzou coach Frank Haith. 

 It started with the matter-of-Hog-fact statement on the future of each team…

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Then it got personal when Haith stormed onto the court yelling in his predecessor’s direction during a timeout…

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Soon the 90′s sitcom-based insults were flowing…

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Before long they morphed into familiar territory when sexual preference was introduced…

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And without fail, the lifeblood of any anonymous message board – the angry meathead – strolled into the party…

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In the end, it was a clinical performance by the Razorback faithful.  Being dismantled on the court by the team representing a border state is never a fun thing to experience, but so long as you can channel your frustration into a written assault crafted under an untraceable pseudonym then, as a fan, you’ve held up your end of the bargain.

 

Postgame Show Caller Profile: The Obscene Phone Caller

Postgame radio call-in shows are much more than mindless filler between the final buzzer and the return to “regularly scheduled programming”. It’s our chance to hear what our fellow fans think, live and unedited. And any time you let a random jerk off the street opine, you never know what you’re going to hear.

Typically, callers fall into one of the following categories: doom-and-gloomers (“The sky is falling!”), Stepford fans (“We should just blindly support everything and everyone associated with the team no matter what like mindless sheep.”), uneducated rubes, attention whores, and finally, a tiny smattering of normal people.

Oh wait, I left out one category: the obscene phone caller. These are the people that hang on the line, sometimes for 30-40 minutes or longer, waiting to say something only a person with the maturity level of a third-grader would find funny (i.e. me). Case in point, this caller, who chimed in following a recent Fighting Illini basketball game:

Since the opponent on this night was Penn State, it’s difficult to tell whether the caller was going for some kind of Jerry Sandusky-related joke or he was simply compelled to blurt out a random ‘cock and balls’ on the air. Either way, good show. This is one obscene phone call that would make even Rockwell proud.

It’s one thing for such chicanery to be broadcast live, but it’s also interesting to note that the ‘cock and balls’ were not edited out of the resulting podcast. Nope, instead these ‘cock and balls’ were left untouched, and thus available for all of us to enjoy. Not really sure what that says about the show’s producer (or the person that wrote this last sentence, frankly).

JSF Exclusive: A Look at the NCAA Notice of Allegations to Frank Haith

On the heels of Mizzou’s upset victory over #5 Florida last night, the mood-killing NCAA dropped the bomb on coach Frank Haith that they had formally delivered his Notice of Allegations related to accusations lobbed by the infamous booster Nevin Shapiro during Haith’s tenure at Miami. 

Initial reports last month by Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports had Haith getting slapped with the dreaded “unethical conduct” charge the NCAA equivalent of a pink slip. 

Since that report, the NCAA has gone out of its way to concede that it’s investigation was conducted by bumbling fools and KU grads who no longer have their jobs, with the situation becoming so comical that many believed it was unlikely that the any Notice of Allegations would be delivered to Miami or Haith for fear of legal ramifications the NCAA might spark. 

Alas, last night they followed through with their promise.  But as Haith’s comments and several reports have confirmed, the NCAA’s allegations against him were significantly downgraded to a step above “we are eating crow”.  In fact, the JSF Investigation team was able to grab a copy of the letter presented to Haith and it spoke volumes…

EmmertLetter

If ever there was an organization unqualified to accuse another of a “failure to monitor” it is the mess known as the NCAA.

That or perhaps they can just recognize it better than anyone. 

 

Contest to Replace Illiniwek Proves Offensive to the Eye

Attend any Illini game live, or tune in on TV, and you’ll see him everywhere. On shirts, hats, and pretty much any other orange-and-blue-clad paraphernalia you can think of, you’ll see him.

Chief Illiniwek may be gone, but he has definitely not been forgotten. Six years since the University of Illinois was forced to retire the symbol or face an NCAA postseason ban, just about the only place you won’t see him is on the court. Or the football field.

You’ll also see him featured prominently in the student cheering section (a.k.a. the Orange Krush). Even though many of these kids weren’t even in high school at the time of his exile, Chief Illiniwek remains steadfastly popular among the overwhelming majority of students at the U of I.

However, another registered student organization, known as the Campus Spirit Revival, recently asked students to come up with a new symbol, and 46 submissions were received.  An open vote among students ended February 1, and the top five reportedly will be presented to university officials for consideration.

My guess is this consideration will last all of ten seconds. Campus Spirit Revival posted the submissions on Facebook for the rest of us to see. A few of them are tolerable. Most are downright laughable. Submitted for your perusal are some of the most interesting (read: absurd) examples:

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Entries like these make you wonder if this was a serious contest or a cry for help for a larger grant for the art department.

From left to right we have Rabid the Squirrel, followed by Colonel Kernel, Trouble the Tractor, and Mr. Twister. Although they would make for an outstanding 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup, we’re not so sure about their viability as a symbol of a flagship state university.

Our favorite among these nightmarish monstrosities is the good Colonel because, well, after all there is a lot of corn in Illinois. Here’s another that’s at least somewhat representative:

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This entry best embodies how I feel after driving three hours and paying money to watch the Illini football team. It could also double as a symbol for the state’s budget negotiations. Therefore, it has promise, unlike this guy:

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Yeah sure, we’re the Illinois Fighting Panthers…or Leopards, whatever man. Some sort of jungle cat. Just pass me the bong.  I know, how about the Tigers! Nobody’s using that one are they?  Wildcats?

Then there’s the inexplicable obsession with some sort of mythical squid beast known as The Kraken.

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One of the reasons the creator lists for using the Kraken is that “this beast sends shivers down the spines of even the toughest of sailors.”

Tougher than sailors, eh? Sounds good enough for me.

Then there’s the obvious attempt to cash in on the recent Abraham Lincoln craze. Daniel Day-Lewis eat your heart out.

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As much as I like the idea of portraying Lincoln as a maniacal, ax-wielding maître d’, I think we can do better, Illinois.

Surprisingly, this is one of the frontrunners. Say hello to “Chef Illini”. Not to be confused with Chef Goldblum.

chef-illini

All together now: Bwahahaha. Even if it wasn’t a galactically stupid idea, I’m not sure how an orange, pissed-off sushi chef is any more culturally sensitive than Illiniwek.

Speaking of symbols based on terrible puns, meet the Fire Chief.

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Question: Why no face? Is he a ghost? Some sort of alien being? Is this to prevent anyone from possibly inferring any sort of ethnic background? Other advantages listed by the creator include the possibility of a Dalmatian sidekick. He could also put out fires, presumably at halftime or during timeouts.

Sure, let’s set fires inside Assembly Hall, what could possibly go wrong there?

Of course, one has to keep in mind that these submissions are from students. They’re just kids. If we opened up the field to a more mature audience, such as alumni, surely we’d get only serious entries right? Wrong.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future in fan entertainment enforcement, Farmbot.

The few submissions that weren’t a total disaster were an homage to an offshoot of the term Fighting Illini, as it was sometimes applied to soldiers from the state during World War I.  The football home of the Illini, Memorial Stadium, is also named for these veterans.

Not to just sit on the sidelines and criticize, I have my own idea for a new symbol, which I’d like to present for consideration at this time.

 

 

 

 

That’s right, how about we just stick with nothing. Personally, I don’t want a symbol, or mascot, or whatever, that high-fives cheerleaders, dunks off trampolines, noogies toddlers, or – as cool as it may seem in theory – sets and extinguishes fires. After Chief Illiniwek, the “normal” mascot thing just seems cheap and gimmicky.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in this opinion, as the “Chief or Nothing” movement has launched its own Facebook page in opposition to the CSR and created an online petition against such efforts.

At least the NCAA can only force Illinois to remove its symbol, not adopt a moronic new one. At least for now.