Traveling Violations: Great expectations
by Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
November 6, 2004
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Loren Tate is a skilled print and radio reporter who has covered University of Illinois athletics for 38 years. The local media institution is a U of I grad and a lifelong follower of Illini sports.
Tate remembers when Illinois reached three Final Fours between 1949 and 1952. But he can't recall many seasons for which the expectations surrounding the Illini were as high as this one.
"The fans always get excited," Tate says. "It's just that this year they finally have something to get excited about. You'd have to go back to the 1950s [to find a similar circumstance]. But that was a world ago."
Illinois is starved for a national title contender. Not since the 1989 Final Four season has Illinois entered the season with a legitimate shot at winning it all. Multiple preseason polls have U of I ranked No. 1.
"It's pretty exciting," U of I coach Bruce Weber says. "[There are] a lot of positive things going on. Now we've got to finish it.
"For the kids it is a dream come true. They love to see themselves in magazines. They'd love to be ranked No. 1. It's a good thing."
Only in Indiana.
We met a guy there who calls everyone "Hoss" and who claims that in 1956, at the age of 17, he had his first beer ever at the old Tumble Inn. Forty-eight years later he was still going strong.
Valued reader email
Dan – What a shocker to see my home town in your article. Coach Shilling isn't the only one to put Logansport on the map. New York Met pitcher, Aaron Heilman also is from Logansport, as is Busch series rookie Boston Reid.
Our high school team name is, are ya ready for this, the Berries! Our mascot? Felix the Cat. Loooong story.
Feel free to make another tour next summer when big things are expected from the Cal Ripken team I coach!
Felix the Cat? Tony, please explain. It sounds worth a long story.
Boy do we love John Chaney.
Also reporting from A-10 media day was Dave Scott, shoe salesman and new media director for And One, who reports Chaney was complaining about negative recruiting against him:
"You know, now, in recruiting, I've got two strikes against my ass: My age and what they tell the kids are '3 a.m. practices.'"
After hearing an advertisement for Absorbine Jr. on the radio, wheelman Bret Bearup wondered what happened to Absorbine Sr. and whether the mantle of arthritis relief will ever be handed over to grandson Absorbine III.
Apparently the Downtown Courtyard Indianapolis considers a "reservation" more of a suggestion. Maybe they thought we were just kidding.
It felt like when a shady coach signs about 20 recruits in one year, fully knowing he only has five scholarships.
The Downtown Courtyard Indianapolis was, after much consternation, able to find us two rooms at another property. Which, at that time of night, was appreciated but hardly the same.
We mean it. We are coming. We plan on arriving at your hotel on the agreed-upon date, paying the agreed-upon fee and then staying in the agreed upon room. We are serious about this.
Otherwise, what we have noticed is a continuing decaying of the physical property, rooms that are a dump and not up to what was being charged. The place is a rip-off.
And its pillows are lumpy.
I feel much better now.
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Saturday, Nov 6, 2004 11:34 pm, EST