Illini Football 2024

#176      
I have posted this before, but I was thinking about it again as I started floating the idea of going to a game this fall (Little Fighter will be about 9+ months during football season and much easier for grandparents to babysit for one night, lol). We made such a huge stride in attendance/overall fan interest these past two years, but ticket sales and TV eyeballs tend to lag success. I am worried that last year was based off of 2022's goodwill, and we might see a dip rather than a continued positive trend.

2019: 36,587 average. Max of 44,512, Min of 30,654.
--- COVID season with no fans, Bielema replaces Lovie for 2021 ---
2021: 35,347 average (3.5% decrease). Max of 41,064, Min of 27,624.
2022: 43,048 average (17.9% increase). Max of 56,092, Min of 33,669.
2023: 49,698 average (13.4% increase). Max of 54,205, Min of 42,310.

More or less, since we beat Wisconsin in Madison last year and really got this thing going, we are averaging just over 49k per game - a crowd that actually makes Memorial Stadium respectable and full on gameday. I really hope we continue to see more and more people simply penciling in the Illini/college football as part of their INHERENT fall schedules. Those are the fan bases that get great attendance ... "win and they will come" needs to be "win and make it more difficult for them to leave again." Even after a disappointing year last year, maintaining good attendance will be crucial for the program, IMO. Need to continue to build a fan base and brand, especially among instate kids who are tomorrow's potential money-spending fans (regardless of where they go for college!).

Here is next year's home schedule:

8/31 vs. Eastern Illinois
9/7 vs. Kansas
9/14 vs. Central Michigan
10/12 vs. Purdue
10/19 vs. Michigan
11/2 vs. Minnesota
11/16 vs. Michigan State

If we surprise some people with a good record going into that Michigan game, it could be our first sellout since 2016.
 
#177      

skyIdub

Winged Warrior
I made it down for my first FB game in over a decade last year vs. Toledo. It was an absolute chamber of commerce poster day. Bowling alley pizza special. The tailgate scene was very good. Grange Grove was awesome. The game was very good.
My brother and I had one of the best Saturdays I've had in a long time.

For any of you on the fence, considering going, or questioning it....just go. Spend some money! BB and Co. deserve your support and the program needs your $$.
I poo poo'd it every year for so long...and I'm so glad I didn't last year.
 
#178      
I made it down for my first FB game in over a decade last year vs. Toledo. It was an absolute chamber of commerce poster day. Bowling alley pizza special. The tailgate scene was very good. Grange Grove was awesome. The game was very good.
My brother and I had one of the best Saturdays I've had in a long time.

For any of you on the fence, considering going, or questioning it....just go. Spend some money! BB and Co. deserve your support and the program needs your $$.
I poo poo'd it every year for so long...and I'm so glad I didn't last year.
Bless you, sir. The more fans we have who at the very least think heading to Memorial Stadium is worth it for the experience alone, the better for the program … a bit of a chicken and an egg thing.
 
#179      
Maybe we should pay players per stat...... $500/per tackle, 1,000 per reception......5,000 for a fumble recovery.....Hmmmm...it's the next step in the madness.
I know you're being facetious, but if I'm not mistaken, one of the few regulations that actually do exist is that you can't pay for play or results.
 
#184      
For sure. Given the last decade & last year's belly flop, I don't mind being the 61st team.

I'm too lazy to look, but I'd expect we have regularly been in the 90-100s since Zook.
And it's worth noting that on a "percentage" basis, being 13th in next year's Big Ten is like being 7th in the pre-PSU Big Ten. Not great by any means, but I think a lot of our eyes are trained to now view 13th as "second to last" on first glance, haha.
 
#185      
And it's worth noting that on a "percentage" basis, being 13th in next year's Big Ten is like being 7th in the pre-PSU Big Ten. Not great by any means, but I think a lot of our eyes are trained to now view 13th as "second to last" on first glance, haha.
That is where we are going to stay until we prove otherwise. I like Bret but it's like we are starting from scratch all over again.
 
#186      
That is where we are going to stay until we prove otherwise. I like Bret but it's like we are starting from scratch all over again.
Unfortunately agreed ... our recruiting just HAS to be better by this point, IMO. I think the following schools would reasonably out-recruit us under almost any scenario:

Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
USC
Oregon

And I would say it's not alarming if the following programs out-recruit us, at least in the near term:

Washington
Nebraska
UCLA
Wisconsin
Michigan State

However, call me unrealistic if you will ... there is no reason we should not be recruiting at or above the following, some for different reasons than others:

Iowa
Minnesota
Maryland
Rutgers
Purdue
Northwestern
Indiana

Yes, you can say that a school like Iowa has more recent success than us or that Minnesota has less competition for its instate recruits or that Maryland has an advantage due to Under Armour or whatever else you want to say ... but recruiting is about selling a vision. Underwood had nothing to sell the likes of Ayo on besides the POTENTIAL to be the recruit that brings Illinois back. To be the player who brought the magic back to State Farm Center. To be the guy who had Illinois back in the top 25. I understand it's a harder sell in football and that one guy cannot turn around a program, but I really thought we'd be making more strides compared to our Big Ten peers with recruiting by now. :(
 
#188      
Unfortunately agreed ... our recruiting just HAS to be better by this point, IMO. I think the following schools would reasonably out-recruit us under almost any scenario:

Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
USC
Oregon

And I would say it's not alarming if the following programs out-recruit us, at least in the near term:

Washington
Nebraska
UCLA
Wisconsin
Michigan State

However, call me unrealistic if you will ... there is no reason we should not be recruiting at or above the following, some for different reasons than others:

Iowa
Minnesota
Maryland
Rutgers
Purdue
Northwestern
Indiana

Yes, you can say that a school like Iowa has more recent success than us or that Minnesota has less competition for its instate recruits or that Maryland has an advantage due to Under Armour or whatever else you want to say ... but recruiting is about selling a vision. Underwood had nothing to sell the likes of Ayo on besides the POTENTIAL to be the recruit that brings Illinois back. To be the player who brought the magic back to State Farm Center. To be the guy who had Illinois back in the top 25. I understand it's a harder sell in football and that one guy cannot turn around a program, but I really thought we'd be making more strides compared to our Big Ten peers with recruiting by now. :(
I'd be surprised if UCLA out recruited Illinois. Also, Johnathan Smith at MSU isn't known for having highly ranked recruiting classes, he's just known for getting more out of 3 star recruits than about anyone else. Not to say 3 stars can't do great things, Marcus Mariota was a 3 star.
 
#190      
That is where we are going to stay until we prove otherwise. I like Bret but it's like we are starting from scratch all over again.
No it is not. Be positive Why is Illinois so much better than the others? If I were a recruit listening to this I would really wonder about the fandom. Not so much the coaches.
 
#191      
Unfortunately agreed ... our recruiting just HAS to be better by this point, IMO. I think the following schools would reasonably out-recruit us under almost any scenario:

Michigan
Ohio State
Penn State
USC
Oregon

And I would say it's not alarming if the following programs out-recruit us, at least in the near term:

Washington
Nebraska
UCLA
Wisconsin
Michigan State

However, call me unrealistic if you will ... there is no reason we should not be recruiting at or above the following, some for different reasons than others:

Iowa
Minnesota
Maryland
Rutgers
Purdue
Northwestern
Indiana

Yes, you can say that a school like Iowa has more recent success than us or that Minnesota has less competition for its instate recruits or that Maryland has an advantage due to Under Armour or whatever else you want to say ... but recruiting is about selling a vision. Underwood had nothing to sell the likes of Ayo on besides the POTENTIAL to be the recruit that brings Illinois back. To be the player who brought the magic back to State Farm Center. To be the guy who had Illinois back in the top 25. I understand it's a harder sell in football and that one guy cannot turn around a program, but I really thought we'd be making more strides compared to our Big Ten peers with recruiting by now. :(
I love Ayo and I know he bleeds orange and blue, but I don't think the bolded is true. It has been insinuated by at least one insider on the BB forum that there were additional incentives to come to Illinois
 
#192      
I love Ayo and I know he bleeds orange and blue, but I don't think the bolded is true. It has been insinuated by at least one insider on the BB forum that there were additional incentives to come to Illinois
I have not heard anything about this, but even so ... I'm sure he had "additional incentives" to go a lot of places. I am highly skeptical that the fact he was from Chicago did not help us. And either way, I think there is plenty to sell at Illinois. Crowds went from 30k to 55k+ as soon as we had a team that could avoid a losing record, so our very large alumni base and instate population is clearly relatively easy to get back on the bandwagon. We have an historic stadium that can be an awesome gameday atmosphere when we are good. We have top-notch facilities that (even if this is shocking to some) legitimately compare to the Blue Bloods of the conference. All I'm saying is the potential is there (I think it would be much more difficult for a recruit to be convinced you could build a winner at Boston College, for example), and a good recruiter can sell kids on that.

Go take a pill. Find positive things to say.
Nobody is being negative because they don't believe in Bret or do not want to be positive; I am an inherently glass-half-full kind of guy. However, we simply need better talent if we are going to keep improving. Our fans desperately want our program to improve, so it's natural for us to yearn for better recruiting. There is Z-E-R-O reason Purdue should recruit better than Illinois, ever. Smaller state, more instate competition for recruits/fans, less NIL, worse facilities and a coach who literally coached FOR Bret.
 
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#193      
I have not heard anything about this, but even so ... I'm sure he had "additional incentives" to go a lot of places. I am highly skeptical that the fact he was from Chicago did not help us. And either way, I think there is plenty to sell at Illinois. Crowds went from 30k to 55k+ as soon as we had a team that could avoid a losing record, so our very large alumni base and instate population is clearly relatively easy to get back on the bandwagon. We have an historic stadium that can be an awesome gameday atmosphere when we are good. We have top-notch facilities that (even if this is shocking to some) legitimately compare to the Blue Bloods of the conference. All I'm saying is the potential is there (I think it would be much more difficult for a recruit to be convinced you could build a winner at Boston College, for example), and a good recruiter can sell kids on that.


Nobody is being negative because they don't believe in Bret or do not want to be positive; I am an inherently glass-half-full kind of guy. However, we simply need better talent if we are going to keep improving. Our fans desperately want our program to improve, so it's natural for us to yearn for better recruiting. There is Z-E-R-O reason Purdue should recruit better than Illinois, ever. Smaller state, more instate competition for recruits/fans, less NIL, worse facilities and a coach who literally coached FOR Bret.
I agree with most of your comparison. I agree the home school was most likely a differentiating factor in our favor vs Wake Forest. I just don't think we will land blue chip in state recruits in football with the home team sell when we are competing with heavyweight NIL offers
 
#194      
And it's worth noting that on a "percentage" basis, being 13th in next year's Big Ten is like being 7th in the pre-PSU Big Ten. Not great by any means, but I think a lot of our eyes are trained to now view 13th as "second to last" on first glance, haha.
Wow. I literally did that exact thing. First thought about being 13th was "ooh second to last..."

Gonna have to recalibrate my thinking.
 
#195      
Wow. I literally did that exact thing. First thought about being 13th was "ooh second to last..."

Gonna have to recalibrate my thinking.
Yep. My wife loves the Illini but is a bit less into sports in general than I am, and I enjoy telling her about the history of Illinois and the Big Ten and whatnot. When I described the Big Ten I grew up with (the 10 "original" teams and Penn State), she said it must have been cool to watch college sports back when each conference made at least some sense geographically and there was an inherent respect for all of them (i.e., no "Power Two" and everybody else). I told her to just enjoy the 14 teams while it lasts, lol. :cry:
 
#199      
I didn’t listen to the press conferences, but from the quotes I saw on Twitter I liked what the new coaches were saying. We’ll see how they — and their charges — do on the field.