Tim Beckman has officially put Northwestern on notice; Illinois intends to view the Wildcats as a rival.
Savor this moment Northwestern fans, it might be the only time anyone considers the Wildcats a rival in something other than journalism school credentials.
Beckman, Illinois' new head coach, made the rivalry official when he hung a Northwestern sign with a universal "no" sign around it, in the Illini locker room.
Oh no he di'int!
But this isn't anything new. When Beckman was announced as Illinois' head coach back in December, he referred to Northwestern as "the team up north" and said, "you'll never see me wearing purple." In fact, Beckman might even go as far as having his team burn all of its purple attire. He did something similar at Toledo when he held a burning for all orange attire to protest Toledo rival Bowling Green.
Yeah, it could get that serious.
Illinois has won the last two meetings between the two teams after Northwestern had won the previous two. Last year's game was a 38-35 barnburner (it actually was a really good game).
I guess this is what happens when you decide to cut football ties with Missouri. While that wasn't much of a rivalry either — Missouri had won the last six meetings and was 4-0 during the last four-year agreement — at least it made sense. He two teams enjoy a heated rivalry in basketball and the football game was a good way for both teams to kick off the season in St. Louis. Oh, and both teams have been consistently decent at football.
But Northwestern, and I say this with as much respect as possible, is not a football school. It's an academic institution that plays football. And while there have been some good seasons in Northwestern history - it was 10-2 in 1995 , the lack of consistency makes it difficult for anyone to really consider the Wildcats a real rival or even a contrived one.
But if this is how Beckman feels he can get his team excited about football again, more power to him.