Can you believe we're this far into the home stretch? It's true. We only have Illinois, Indiana, and That Team Up North left in the regular season. If you have any hate left in reserve, now is the time to let it out. It's time to empty the chambers. It's time to hate Illinois.
Stop trying to make the Illibuck happen
Ohio State and Illinois play for a trophy. It's a wooden turtle named Illibuck (apparently it used be to a REAL turtle, which would have been marginally more interesting), and is apparently the second oldest rivalry trophy in the Big Ten, while is rife with old nicknacks as trophies. Around this time every year, we all frantically try to look up everything we can about Illibuck and pretend that people in Columbus care about it, which they don't. I grew up less than 30 miles from Columbus and had never heard of this trophy until it popped up in my NCAA PlayStation game. I imagine that if you took a survey on campus to determine what "rivalry" game was most important, the Illibuck would fall well behind Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana basketball, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alabama, and Mark May.
Sure, Ohio State and Illinois are rivals in the sense that they've played a hundred times and have some sense of shared history. Like most other schools in the Big Ten though, that history has mostly been Ohio State kicking Illinois up and down the field. The total series is 64-30-4 in favor of the Buckeyes (the NCAA and Wikipedia might not count that 2010 victory, but I saw it on TV, and I know it happened, so I will). When you start the clock at when both schools actually engaged in this trophy business, it's even more stark: a 64-23-2 Buckeye advantage.
Illinois has beaten Ohio State four times in the last 20 years (1994, 1999, 2001 and 2007). From 1968-1982, Ohio State won every game. They've beaten Illinois five times in a row, and once the division change kicks in, Illinois will be banished to the Western wilderness, an occasional afterthought, only existing to break up matchups with TRUE BIG TEN HISTORICAL RIVALS, Maryland and Rutgers. It sucks to lose to Illinois, but it rarely happens, and Illinois is very seldom good enough to make this game actually matter. Exchanging a wooden turtle doesn't change that. You want Ohio State fans to care more about beating you? Find ways to win a Big Ten game more than once every other year.
Illinois let a bunch of politically connected dumb kids into the school, because reasons
Illinois is an outstanding academic institution. By most measures, it's better than Ohio State, and for many disciplines, like computer science and engineering, it's world class. That doesn't mean they're above making exceptions for kids with bad ACT scores but really good last names.
Back in 2009, the Chicago Tribune published this major story, Clout goes to college, which showed how 800 students over five years were placed on a special "clout list" and given preferential admissions treatment due to their connections to politicians, university trustees, or friends. These students tended to come from some of the most wealthy high schools in Illinois, which makes sense, since guys like Tony Rezko aren't hanging out with families on Chicago's west side. While such practices are not uncommon at elite schools, especially private schools, the Illinois Clout Scandal was a big blow to anybody who believes in the ideal of the land grant institution. The ability for us to be smug about our schools is a major selling point of the Big Ten, and woe be unto the institution that flagrantly besmirches our sterling reputation. If you're going to cheat with academics Illinois, do it to win football games, not score political points.
This scandal also toppled Illinois president B. Joseph White, and really, this seems a lot worse than anything Gordon Gee ever did, right? I GUESS YOU CAN'T TRUST THOSE DAMN ILLINI. I mean, THOSE DAMN ILLINOIS RESIDENTS.
Lots of people who went to Illinois kinda suck
Marie from Breaking Bad (well, technically, the actress that played Marie). "JESUS MARIE, IF ILLINOIS IS SUCH A SMART SCHOOL, HOW COME YOU CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ROCK AND A MINERAL?"
Irving Azoff, CEO of Ticketmaster This guy is the reason you have to pay a seven dollar processing fee to print off your tickets yourself. Ticketmaster has got to be one of the five most diabolical companies ever, just behind the Umbrella Corporation, and whatever international conglomerate owns my student loans.
Robert Johnson, founder of BET. Also: guy that was so arrogant that he named an NBA team after himself. I have no opinion of BET, but anyone who is associated with the Charlotte Bobcats (get it?) is forever tainted with regret and failure.
Ed Boon, creator of Mortal Kombat Mortal Kombat is, of course, awesome, but it was one of the principal reasons I was grounded about 60% of the time from age 9-12. Thanks for getting me into trouble with your wonderful, pixilated and gratuitous gore, Ed. I hope Ohio State serves up a FATALITY against your alma mater.
Robert Novak, political columnist If your professional nickname is "the Prince of Darkness", chances are, you're not a swell guy.
Tim Beckman is now the stooge coach of the Big Ten
Now that Bert has left for the greener pastures of Arkansas (#karma), the championship belt for most dislikable coach in the conference is up for grabs. It should be easily won by Tim Beckman though. Consider the following:
Beckman shamelessly, clumsily and flagrantly recruited Penn State athletes after the Paterno sanctions, which made just about everybody dislike him.
At press conferences, Beckman sounds like somebody who suffers from voice immodulation disorde.
Oh yeah, he hasn't won a Big Ten game yet.
Illinois might be the most underachieving program in all of major college football
This isn't Beckman's fault, since he's only been at the school for less than two seasons. But with a few exceptions, it's hard to think of many schools that have done less with more than Illinois.
Illinois has a stronger claim to the Chicagoland area than any other Big Ten school (yes, even you Northwestern). It has a passionate fanbase, a program with history, and is an excellent academic school. On paper, they have more advantages than places like Wisconsin or Iowa, and yet have mostly been mired in mediocrity. They're now pretty clearly the third worst program in the state, behind Northwestern and NORTHERN Illinois. Could you imagine if Michigan or Michigan State were getting routinely passed up on the football field by say, Western Michigan? There would be riots.
Maybe it's poor coaching hires (Hello, Ron Zook!). Maybe it's a comparatively lower athletic budget. Maybe it's bad luck. Whatever the reason, we need the Big Ten's slackers to step their game up, and it's easy to point a finger at perhaps the biggest offender, Illinois. Can't you guys be at least AVERAGE? Geez..
In conclusion, Illinois is terrible, and worthy of our hate, scorn, and judgement.
GO BUCKEYES, BEAT THE ILLINI