More Postgame Thoughts October 1, 2012
Let’s just say that you should look for Check The Tape on Tuesdays this year. I can’t ever seem to find time on Sunday nights anymore. Check The Tape – An ALionEye Tuesday Tradition. Which sucks, because it looks like losing is now an Illini Saturday Tradition. Wait, “now”? I always forget which team I cheer for.
But I still have thousands of postgame thoughts running through my head, so I’m skipping lunch to write them all down. Or, maybe, like, three of them.
I’ve taken Saturday’s From The Stands down. As the hours passed, I kind of grew to hate that it was out there. I’ve received a lot of responses, and I realized that this issue was somehow becoming about me or something (a lot of that “somehow” was probably my glee at getting everything on tape). That’s not what I want, and I realized that my actions didn’t match this desire.
I considered posting some of the stories people have emailed me – stories of how the EVENT STAFF was rude and unaccommodating in their section as well. But I didn’t feel like that was the correct angle here either. Today, I feel like speaking right to the core of the issue and what I’m hoping to see change.
It’s not about being able to podcast from the stands themselves – I could do that outside the stadium. It’s not about a desire to see the band march out (although I can understand why parents of band members stick around for that). I’m not even asking for a Wisconsin thing where the festivities last long after the game is over.
I’d simply like to see the riot police mentality of the EVENT STAFF come to an end. It’s as if their training has told them “assume everyone is drunk and trying to break the rules”. They circle the field after every game to prevent field rushes that just aren’t going to happen, even when we win. They usher fans out of the stadium as quickly as possible after a game like there’s some bomb threat.
I wish I didn’t have to lump them all together. I met one guy (white jacket, not green) last year who was very nice. I explained to him who I was (a blogger), what I was doing (a mini-podcast that fans listen to after the game), and that I was trying to upload onto the wifi in the stadium. He let me stay until the file uploaded, and I thanked him and told him I’d find other ways to upload after that. He was very accommodating. He listened.
But he’s the only one I’ve encountered who has done such. The rest have done very little listening and a whole lotta power trippin’. The emails I received two weeks ago and yesterday verify that I’m not the only one. Elevator policies, waiting for someone in the restroom – everyone is treated with “I don’t care, these are the rules, deal with it.” And I’m making this an issue in hopes that it changes.
The solution for me personally, given that I’m trying to capture the postgame atmosphere for fans who couldn’t be at the game, would be to get some kind of credential that I could show EVENT STAFF so I could remain in the stands more than three minutes after the final whistle. Maybe I should have done that long ago. But if I had, EVENT STAFF might just carry on, unabated. I’m hopeful that this whole deal starts the path to some changes. I want the inside of Memorial Stadium to be the best fan experience in college football.
But I also want the best team in college football. So I’m a dreamer.
I’m guilty. I’ll admit it. I was duped by the bowl win. I started my preseason SOC intending to predict a 5-7 record, but, as you can see when you read it, I got sucked into “but this is a team that won back-to-back bowl games, so this isn’t a rebuild.” So I said 6-6.
This is a rebuild.
Not a full scale rebuild like Turner or Zook faced, mind you. But getting drilled by a Big Ten opponent reminded me that there was a reason we were 2-6 in the Big Ten last year. And that reminded me that Ron Zook only finished above .500 in the league one time. And that reminded me that we have a long way to go.
I’m not making excuses for Tim Beckman, although I’m sure many will interpret this in that way. I’m saying that beating Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, Western Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, and UCLA makes for a very deceiving view of “health”. This is still the team that was barely competitive at Minnesota last year. When we match up with our Big Ten brethren, the view is not pretty. Which is why Mike Thomas would have likely fired Ron Zook even if we did beat Minnesota. We had fallen well behind the rest of the teams in our conference (again).
And we’re still well behind the rest of the teams in our conference. We have a long way to go, and now we have the added benefit of not being sure we have the correct coaching staff in place to get us there. THIS… is Illinois Football.
We’re Not Disciplined, Nor Inspired, Nor Resilient
More than any other issue, this is where my depression rests right now. I expected the offense to look lost with a young line and a new scheme (I think my prediction was game 7 when we’d begin to see an uptick, SO WATCH OUT, MICHIGAN), and I was concerned that the defense wouldn’t take to Tim Banks like they took to Vic Koenning. But I had no idea we’d look this dead.
The players were pretty fired up on the sideline before the game on Saturday. Then Tommy Davis dropped the punt, and they were still. And then we ran into the kicker, and they were slumped over. Five minutes into the game, and the sideline is already showing signs that they’re tapping out. There was a brief sideline revival when V’Angelo Bentley blocked the kick right before half, but as soon as the first three-and-out happened in the second half, dead sideline.
I am a firm believer in sideline demeanor. In a team mentality. College sports live off of it. Get some no-name team within six points of the NCAA Tournament 3-seed, get them all to believe in each other, and watch the madness happen. Get the ball back down six with two minutes to go, and watch every player on the offense come alive after a lethargic second half. They fire off the ball on the snap, ready to hit someone. There’s desire in every play.
Which is why I’m a Proper State Of Mind guy. A Chuck Boerio guy. “Hey Johnny, send Ameche at me.” If you can get the boys in the proper state of mind, you’ve got a winner.
We’re nowhere close to the proper state of mind right now. We’re taking eight penalties to Penn State’s two. We’re turning the ball over three times to Penn State’s zero. We’re getting inside the ten three times and coming away with zero points. And, perhaps worst of all, we don’t appear at all inspired. Penn State did. Louisiana Tech did. We just looked like we had zero resilience. Arizona State fumbled on our goal line to open the game, and they didn’t fold. They got the ball back and marched right down the field again. Saturday, it just felt like we mentally folded after the two early mistakes.
Which falls directly to Tim Beckman. He was able to turn Toledo around from a point shaving scandal to back-to-back 7-1 conference seasons. Can he do the same with the Illini? To me, that question mostly rests here: can he get the boys in the proper state of mind?