Illini Football 2024

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#126      
I don't think "the big boy table" is our current goal...

But, here's a fun stat (and yes, I sort of cherry picked a team). There's a team in the SEC that from 2015 to 2022 went to 8 straight bowl games without having a single winning conference record those 8 years. They only went 29-37 in conference those 8 years with a 53-41 overall regular season record during that same span (24-4 non-con).

Here were their non-conference teams during those 8 years:
2015
Southern Miss
Northwestern State
Troy
Louisiana Tech

2016
South Alabama (L)
UMass
BYU (L)
Samford

2017
Charleston Southern
Louisiana Tech
BYU
UMass

2018
Stephen F. Austin
Kansas State
Louisiana
Louisiana Tech

2019
Louisiana
Southern Miss
Kansas State (L)
Abilene Christian

2020
None (Covid)

2021
Louisiana Tech
NC State
Memphis (L)
Tennessee State

2022
Memphis
Arizona
Bowling Green
East Tennessee State

During this time, they won 5 bowl games, only losing 3... including beating our beloved in 2022/2023's Reliaquest bowl. Now tell me you wouldn't want to have the same level of program as Mississippi State. Also, they only finished the season ranked twice during this stretch. So, it's not like they were some natural powerhouse that was beating up good teams, too.

This is all I really want. Consistent 8-4 seasons where occasionally we finished ranked. I want games in December against average teams, not getting blown out in September vs. good teams. Take from this what you will, but I know you all know you would have killed to have that same 8 year stretch.
I want 8-4 but I don’t want it to be by beating cream puffs. Lay off the FCS teams I want to know we have a good team. We don’t need to schedule an impossible schedule. Scheduling KU and Duke was not bad on historically records.
 
#128      
Just my opinion, but finishing 6-6 beating Rose Hulman, Illinois Wesleyan, SIU Edwardsville, NW, IU and Purdue doesn't excite me that much. Sign me up for playing at least one respectable P4 non-conference game each year, even if it means we go 5-7 rather than 6-6. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't make that much difference. If you can't run with the big dogs, get out of the pack
 
#129      
Back then the big 10 only allowed one team to go to the Rose Bowl. No other bowls. So he’d have had a better record had they scheduled some cupcakes in non conference, not more bowls. That likely had a big part in scheduling tough teams. Get ready for conference schedule, as conference record only determined your postseason… had to win conference (or come in second behind a team that was there more recently than you).

Would you have remembered beating eastern Illinois and going 7-2-1 with no bowl or SC coming to town and finishing 6-3-1 with no bowl?
Interesting perspective. I remember the 1999 season when the Illini had the first good season under Turner. 11-game season. The Illini were 6-4 and not guaranteed a bowl game if they lost to OSU. They would have to do some politicking to get in at 6-5. The Illini beat Ohio State (first time ever that the U of I beat Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State as the away team in the same year) to go 7-4 and got a birth in the MicronPC.com Bowl. While a minor bowl, it was great after several down years.
 
#130      
DIA needs to do absolutely everything in its power to sell out the Michigan game (including offering free tickets or frickin' paying people to attend, lol). That would get us our first sell out since 2016, and we sorely need one to keep the momentum going, IMO! These are the crowds of 60k or over we have pulled in the last 25 years:

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 60,670 ---
2016: 60,670 vs. North Carolina (Lovie's first big home game)
2011: 60,670 vs. #22 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 62,870 ---
2010: 62,870 vs. #2 Ohio State
2009: 60,523 vs. Northwestern
2009: 60,119 vs. Michigan
2009: 62,870 vs. Michigan State
2009: 62,870 vs. #13 Penn State
2009: 62,347 vs. Illinois State
2008: 62,870 vs. #10 Ohio State
2008: 62,870 vs. Iowa
2008: 62,870 vs. Indiana
2008: 62,870 vs. Minnesota
2008: 60,131 vs. Eastern Illinois (first home game after 2006-2007 renovation)

*** Memorial Stadium capacity was only 57,078 during 2007 Rose Bowl season ***

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 69,249 ---
2002: 69,249 vs. #14 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 70,904 ---
2001: 70,904 vs. Penn State
2001: 70,904 vs. Wisconsin
2000: 61,207 vs. #13 Ohio State
2000: 62,639 vs. Iowa
2000: 72,524 vs. #10 Michigan (the terrible replay game)

So only 19 games in 25 years of pulling over 60k, and almost 85% of them were over 15 years ago. Pretty sad, but as I have said before, our attendance is trending very much in the right direction. I hope we keep it going!!

P.S. It's pretty crazy the goodwill the Rose Bowl season earned us even into a 3-win 2009 campaign. Shows you how much talent there still was in Champaign and how we all held out hope it would come together. :( I have to believe that the 2009 season put the major dent in our attendance going forward, and it was the 0-6 end to the 2011 season that started the real downward spiral toward the Lovie years.
 
#131      
Anyone up for sharing an assessment of the O-Line? I have nothing but my gut here, but if we can give Altmeyer time this season, the tools are there for him to ball out.

Last season was incredibly frustrating to watch as a season ticket holder who traveled to the Purdue game (😖), IMO, because it felt like the talent and game planning was there, but the untimely mistakes were too many to count. The potential was there though, and another year of development at QB has me excited... if we can protect him.
IMO Starters will probably be:

LT - Davis
LG - Wigenton
C - Kruetz
RG - Crisler
RT - Preistly

JC Davis might be a star. Potential NFL level guy. Massive get to reel him in from New Mexico State.

Kruetz seems to be a quality piece and then some at center.

Then you got a bunch of moving pieces at guard: Crisler, Wigenton, Gesky, Schuster, and a few others maybe as well.

At RT Priestly likely the favorite to start. Crisler might end up there as well - might not be sold on that one tbh after the disaster last year for him at that spot. Think Priestly might've led the nation in penalties last year. If the penalties are down, he's got good potential it seems.

Bret said he doesn't wanna be thin on the O Line again and they aren't. There's plenty of pieces behind if Plan A doesn't immediately work out. The number might be around the 8-9 mark in terms of guys to feel comfortable playing at any point. At times last year the O Line was as bad as it could possibly get tbh - Kansas was terrible, Purdue, Nebraska, etc. Overall, I expect this unit to be much better than last year.
 
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#132      
And I am not convinced that going 6-6 vs. 5-7 because we don't have Mizzou on the schedule is such a benefit that it outweighs a very compelling non-conference rivalry on the schedule each year.
Fighter, I appreciate all your contributions but there's a good reason why so many people disagree with you on this one. Your focus and arguments are all from the perspective of a fan. In order to solve this long term, you have to look at it from the perspective of a player, and especially a recruit. If you were a 4 star willing to consider a team like Illinois, and you had a choice between Illinois (who many could convince you has the chance of making a bowl game about every 5 years), and another team that is similar but consistently makes it to a lower level bowl every year, which would you choose? You just want to play football (and drink beer and chase chicks of course). One program offers you another 4 weeks of practice and a trip somewhere. The other program offers you a low probability of both. We have to attract the quality recruits first so we can consistently make bowl games, so we can then attract even better quality recruits. Only then should we be willing to use one of our 3 noncon match-ups for top 20 opponents.

And would everyone please stop saying the other option is scheduling 3 patsies? Very few people want that. It's not either Mizzou or Middle Tenn State. There are lots of good middle ground options that would still give us a challenge (and draw fans), but would allow us to only need 3 wins from a very tough Big Ten. Come December 2025, will you be happy to say "I'm really frustrated we've missed a bowl game by one win again, but I sure am glad we played Mizzou?" I'd rather be able to say "I'm so glad we get all those extra practices and a bowl appearance, so I'm glad we didn't schedule Miznoz."
 
#133      
DIA needs to do absolutely everything in its power to sell out the Michigan game (including offering free tickets or frickin' paying people to attend, lol). That would get us our first sell out since 2016, and we sorely need one to keep the momentum going, IMO! These are the crowds of 60k or over we have pulled in the last 25 years:

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 60,670 ---
2016: 60,670 vs. North Carolina (Lovie's first big home game)
2011: 60,670 vs. #22 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 62,870 ---
2010: 62,870 vs. #2 Ohio State
2009: 60,523 vs. Northwestern
2009: 60,119 vs. Michigan
2009: 62,870 vs. Michigan State
2009: 62,870 vs. #13 Penn State
2009: 62,347 vs. Illinois State
2008: 62,870 vs. #10 Ohio State
2008: 62,870 vs. Iowa
2008: 62,870 vs. Indiana
2008: 62,870 vs. Minnesota
2008: 60,131 vs. Eastern Illinois (first home game after 2006-2007 renovation)

*** Memorial Stadium capacity was only 57,078 during 2007 Rose Bowl season ***

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 69,249 ---
2002: 69,249 vs. #14 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 70,904 ---
2001: 70,904 vs. Penn State
2001: 70,904 vs. Wisconsin
2000: 61,207 vs. #13 Ohio State
2000: 62,639 vs. Iowa
2000: 72,524 vs. #10 Michigan (the terrible replay game)

So only 19 games in 25 years of pulling over 60k, and almost 85% of them were over 15 years ago. Pretty sad, but as I have said before, our attendance is trending very much in the right direction. I hope we keep it going!!

P.S. It's pretty crazy the goodwill the Rose Bowl season earned us even into a 3-win 2009 campaign. Shows you how much talent there still was in Champaign and how we all held out hope it would come together. :( I have to believe that the 2009 season put the major dent in our attendance going forward, and it was the 0-6 end to the 2011 season that started the real downward spiral toward the Lovie years.
Keep in mind: that was tickets sold, not actual attendance. The attendance at those games, especially as a 1-6 team against Michigan, was pretty pathetic (sub-40k). Still, the fact that people bought season tickets is definitely a testament to the Rose Bowl and maintained expectations after the 2008 letdown.
 
#134      
Interesting perspective. I remember the 1999 season when the Illini had the first good season under Turner. 11-game season. The Illini were 6-4 and not guaranteed a bowl game if they lost to OSU. They would have to do some politicking to get in at 6-5. The Illini beat Ohio State (first time ever that the U of I beat Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State as the away team in the same year) to go 7-4 and got a birth in the MicronPC.com Bowl. While a minor bowl, it was great after several down years.
99, fun season, capped by the most points ever scored in a bowl up to that point. The ‘minor bowls’ were a ton of fun then.

But ya in the 70s, minor bowls weren’t an option for big 10 teams, so it made pretty good sense to schedule tough teams out of conference. No downside unless you were trying to go undefeated and win a natty. Now, it doesn’t make much sense especially for Illinois. They need to just stack as many wins as possible. Inevitably they’ll play plenty of tough teams just in conference
 
#135      
IMO Starters will probably be:

LT - Davis
LG - Wigenton
C - Kruetz
RG - Crisler
RT - Preistly

JC Davis might be a star. Potential NFL level guy. Massive get to reel him in from New Mexico State.

Kruetz seems to be a quality piece and then some at center.

Then you got a bunch of moving pieces at guard: Crisler, Wigenton, Gesky, Schuster, and a few others maybe as well.

At RT Priestly likely the favorite to start. Crisler might end up there as well - might not be sold on that one tbh after the disaster last year for him at that spot. Think Priestly might've led the nation in penalties last year. If the penalties are down, he's got good potential it seems.

Bret said he doesn't wanna be thin on the O Line again and they aren't. There's plenty of pieces behind if Plan A doesn't immediately work out. The number might be around the 8-9 mark in terms of guys to feel comfortable playing at any point. At times last year the O Line was as bad as it could possibly get tbh - Kansas was terrible, Purdue, Nebraska, etc. Overall, I expect this unit to be much better than last year.

Lt - Davis
Lg- Gesky/ wigenton
C- kruetz
Rg- Crisler
Rt- Priesley

Henderson schuster and whitenack will all be in the rotation. Plus guys like Arkin and Boyer are basically extra linemen.
 
#137      
This forum has become so adamantly anti-scheduling-Mizzou that it now seems almost scary to speak against the consensus :ROFLMAO: ... but put me down for this opinion, too! Do I want Illini football to improve?? Yes. However, I am not that sympathetic to the idea that making the types of bowls 6-6 teams make will move the needle past the improvement Bret has already accomplished. 8-4 New Year's Day bowls like 2022?? Sure. 6-6 bowls in mid-December? I'm not convinced. Those are to give fans a vacation, and for all you know it could be to Detroit in December.

Basically, I see it this way. We need more money to get better NIL to get better recruits. I do indeed fear we have maxed out the improvements this program can see if we don't start seeing better recruiting (i.e., 4-stars). And I am not convinced that going 6-6 vs. 5-7 because we don't have Mizzou on the schedule is such a benefit that it outweighs a very compelling non-conference rivalry on the schedule each year. If we are going to turn the corner as a program, it is because we are finally beating Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, etc. regularly, not because we get to 6 wins instead of 5 by dodging Mizzou. Until we are in the conversation for 7-8-9 wins like we were in 2022, I actually think the exposure of a big-time matchup with Missouri (which would absolutely be on an actual channel, not BTN or Peacock, JMO) helps us just as much as the Music City Bowl.

However, I am not presenting my opinion as a certain ... I don't know which is better. But as a fan, I'd rather get excited for the CHANCE to beat Missouri than watching us beat three patsies in front of 40k at Memorial Stadium. A close loss to Missouri at home in front of a sellout crowd on FOX is just as beneficial for the perception of this program as beating NIU on FS1 with a 60% full crowd, IMO.
Hear! Hear!
 
#139      

Serious Late

Peoria via Denver via Ann Arbor via Albuquerque vi
IMO Starters will probably be:

LT - Davis
LG - Wigenton
C - Kruetz
RG - Crisler
RT - Preistly

JC Davis might be a star. Potential NFL level guy. Massive get to reel him in from New Mexico State.

Kruetz seems to be a quality piece and then some at center.

Then you got a bunch of moving pieces at guard: Crisler, Wigenton, Gesky, Schuster, and a few others maybe as well.

At RT Priestly likely the favorite to start. Crisler might end up there as well - might not be sold on that one tbh after the disaster last year for him at that spot. Think Priestly might've led the nation in penalties last year. If the penalties are down, he's got good potential it seems.

Bret said he doesn't wanna be thin on the O Line again and they aren't. There's plenty of pieces behind if Plan A doesn't immediately work out. The number might be around the 8-9 mark in terms of guys to feel comfortable playing at any point. At times last year the O Line was as bad as it could possibly get tbh - Kansas was terrible, Purdue, Nebraska, etc. Overall, I expect this unit to be much better than last year.
Appreciate the insight, fellas. This is the year for Altmyer to put it all together, he's turning 22. If we can protect him, it's go time. 🤠
 
#140      
WOW! Bielema really, really dislikes Ryan Walters and Purdue. “We helped out Purdue with a couple trips, and then a couple weeks later, I got a cellphone call ... to tell me that ... all of our athletics are being canceled, and they’re going with another carrier,” Wang said. Wang said he wasn’t able to ask a lot of questions, as he was overseas when he received the call. After thanking the official for letting him know and saying that Peoria Charter would be there if ever needed, Wang said he was told, “Well, now you can go help out your Purdue friends better, easier.” https://www.news-gazette.com/busine...cle_292a0cec-3e07-11ef-aad0-7bba2a856512.html
 
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#141      
IMO Starters will probably be:

LT - Davis
LG - Wigenton
C - Kruetz
RG - Crisler
RT - Preistly

JC Davis might be a star. Potential NFL level guy. Massive get to reel him in from New Mexico State.

Kruetz seems to be a quality piece and then some at center.

Then you got a bunch of moving pieces at guard: Crisler, Wigenton, Gesky, Schuster, and a few others maybe as well.

At RT Priestly likely the favorite to start. Crisler might end up there as well - might not be sold on that one tbh after the disaster last year for him at that spot. Think Priestly might've led the nation in penalties last year. If the penalties are down, he's got good potential it seems.

Bret said he doesn't wanna be thin on the O Line again and they aren't. There's plenty of pieces behind if Plan A doesn't immediately work out. The number might be around the 8-9 mark in terms of guys to feel comfortable playing at any point. At times last year the O Line was as bad as it could possibly get tbh - Kansas was terrible, Purdue, Nebraska, etc. Overall, I expect this unit to be much better than last year.
Will the Danish Destroyer ever see the field?
 
#143      
WOW! Bielema really, really dislikes Ryan Walters and Purdue. “We helped out Purdue with a couple trips, and then a couple weeks later, I got a cellphone call ... to tell me that ... all of our athletics are being canceled, and they’re going with another carrier,” Wang said. Wang said he wasn’t able to ask a lot of questions, as he was overseas when he received the call. After thanking the official for letting him know and saying that Peoria Charter would be there if ever needed, Wang said he was told, “Well, now you can go help out your Purdue friends better, easier.” https://www.news-gazette.com/busine...cle_292a0cec-3e07-11ef-aad0-7bba2a856512.html

Don't we all? I mean, Walters might be a decent HC - but he comes across as a jerk. It is like he has a vendetta against UI.
 
#145      
1000009089.jpg


Found this coin in a drawer of a departed colleague... Any significance or just a neat memento?
 
#147      
Fighter, I appreciate all your contributions but there's a good reason why so many people disagree with you on this one. Your focus and arguments are all from the perspective of a fan. In order to solve this long term, you have to look at it from the perspective of a player, and especially a recruit. If you were a 4 star willing to consider a team like Illinois, and you had a choice between Illinois (who many could convince you has the chance of making a bowl game about every 5 years), and another team that is similar but consistently makes it to a lower level bowl every year, which would you choose? You just want to play football (and drink beer and chase chicks of course). One program offers you another 4 weeks of practice and a trip somewhere. The other program offers you a low probability of both. We have to attract the quality recruits first so we can consistently make bowl games, so we can then attract even better quality recruits. Only then should we be willing to use one of our 3 noncon match-ups for top 20 opponents.

And would everyone please stop saying the other option is scheduling 3 patsies? Very few people want that. It's not either Mizzou or Middle Tenn State. There are lots of good middle ground options that would still give us a challenge (and draw fans), but would allow us to only need 3 wins from a very tough Big Ten. Come December 2025, will you be happy to say "I'm really frustrated we've missed a bowl game by one win again, but I sure am glad we played Mizzou?" I'd rather be able to say "I'm so glad we get all those extra practices and a bowl appearance, so I'm glad we didn't schedule Miznoz."
And I really do appreciate the argument you are making, and you could be right ... I just don't think it's as obvious as people here are treating it. I think this is an actual debate to be had, not a situation where anyone who disagrees with dodging Mizzou ASAP just "doesn't get it" or whatever. I only mentioned my fan experience as a side anecdote, but I am not convinced that going 6-6 is as essential as people here are treating it. While I am sure 4-star football players, in isolation, absolutely want to be playing in a bowl each year, I am skeptical of how much making a mid-December bowl game in Detroit feels like accomplishing that goal, extra practices or not. A 5-7 season where we are in a nationally relevant rivalry game to showcase ourselves could be just as valuable to the program as a 6-6 season where we beat up on 3 easy wins in the non-conference and squeak into a crappy bowl game. Of course, when you start talking 7+ wins, I agree that "making a bowl" becomes a clear priority ... and that is why I am sympathetic to the argument. I just don't think it's as clear as, "Why on EARTH would you ever schedule big, scary Missouri?!"

In short, if we get to the point where we are beating Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, etc. frequently enough that we are in regular bowl games, I will be sad that Mizzou is not on the schedule, as it represents a unique opportunity for a reciprocal rivalry. So, I would prefer a future where we keep improving at beating BIG TEN schools and have the wiggle room to play an exciting matchup vs. Missouri and not be worried about the low bar of 6 wins. Are we there yet?? I mean, no, I guess not? But I would argue that is because of our disappointing recruiting, and that could have (theoretically) been fixed in isolation of any scheduling with Missouri.

Either way, I am sure most here will end up getting their way, and we will not renew the rivalry.
 
#148      
I’m in the boat where I’m sad to say I think it’s probably better to schedule 3 non-conference games that would be more on the “winnable” side. Right now Illinois football is at the brink of a new plateau, which is .500 or better and a postseason game consistently. Achieving those two things is what’s important at the moment. If it means doing the Barry Alvarez and scheduling cupcakes then that’s what needs to happen.

It would be a totally different story if the realistic expectations year after year were in the 10-2 or 9-3 realm. It would make more sense then to schedule mizzou and the like, but Illinois isn’t there yet.
 
#149      

217sports

Springfield
DIA needs to do absolutely everything in its power to sell out the Michigan game (including offering free tickets or frickin' paying people to attend, lol). That would get us our first sell out since 2016, and we sorely need one to keep the momentum going, IMO! These are the crowds of 60k or over we have pulled in the last 25 years:

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 60,670 ---
2016: 60,670 vs. North Carolina (Lovie's first big home game)
2011: 60,670 vs. #22 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 62,870 ---
2010: 62,870 vs. #2 Ohio State
2009: 60,523 vs. Northwestern
2009: 60,119 vs. Michigan
2009: 62,870 vs. Michigan State
2009: 62,870 vs. #13 Penn State
2009: 62,347 vs. Illinois State
2008: 62,870 vs. #10 Ohio State
2008: 62,870 vs. Iowa
2008: 62,870 vs. Indiana
2008: 62,870 vs. Minnesota
2008: 60,131 vs. Eastern Illinois (first home game after 2006-2007 renovation)

*** Memorial Stadium capacity was only 57,078 during 2007 Rose Bowl season ***

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 69,249 ---
2002: 69,249 vs. #14 Michigan

--- Memorial Stadium Capacity = 70,904 ---
2001: 70,904 vs. Penn State
2001: 70,904 vs. Wisconsin
2000: 61,207 vs. #13 Ohio State
2000: 62,639 vs. Iowa
2000: 72,524 vs. #10 Michigan (the terrible replay game)

So only 19 games in 25 years of pulling over 60k, and almost 85% of them were over 15 years ago. Pretty sad, but as I have said before, our attendance is trending very much in the right direction. I hope we keep it going!!

P.S. It's pretty crazy the goodwill the Rose Bowl season earned us even into a 3-win 2009 campaign. Shows you how much talent there still was in Champaign and how we all held out hope it would come together. :( I have to believe that the 2009 season put the major dent in our attendance going forward, and it was the 0-6 end to the 2011 season that started the real downward spiral toward the Lovie years.
If you give out free tickets to the public for the Michigan game, no one will ever buy a ticket again. At some point its on the fans to show up and support, not on the DIA to give it all away to the snobs who never show support through buying tickets
 
#150      
And I really do appreciate the argument you are making, and you could be right ... I just don't think it's as obvious as people here are treating it. I think this is an actual debate to be had, not a situation where anyone who disagrees with dodging Mizzou ASAP just "doesn't get it" or whatever. I only mentioned my fan experience as a side anecdote, but I am not convinced that going 6-6 is as essential as people here are treating it. While I am sure 4-star football players, in isolation, absolutely want to be playing in a bowl each year, I am skeptical of how much making a mid-December bowl game in Detroit feels like accomplishing that goal, extra practices or not. A 5-7 season where we are in a nationally relevant rivalry game to showcase ourselves could be just as valuable to the program as a 6-6 season where we beat up on 3 easy wins in the non-conference and squeak into a crappy bowl game. Of course, when you start talking 7+ wins, I agree that "making a bowl" becomes a clear priority ... and that is why I am sympathetic to the argument. I just don't think it's as clear as, "Why on EARTH would you ever schedule big, scary Missouri?!"

In short, if we get to the point where we are beating Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, etc. frequently enough that we are in regular bowl games, I will be sad that Mizzou is not on the schedule, as it represents a unique opportunity for a reciprocal rivalry. So, I would prefer a future where we keep improving at beating BIG TEN schools and have the wiggle room to play an exciting matchup vs. Missouri and not be worried about the low bar of 6 wins. Are we there yet?? I mean, no, I guess not? But I would argue that is because of our disappointing recruiting, and that could have (theoretically) been fixed in isolation of any scheduling with Missouri.

Either way, I am sure most here will end up getting their way, and we will not renew the rivalry.
Completely agree, especially about competing in big ten. I don't think Josh is kicking himself that he allowed KU on the schedule just season. Everyone knows the team underperformed last season and one more garbage win doesn't change that
 
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