Illinois begins the 2012 college football season with a new coach. Tim Beckman takes over for Ron Zook. Beckman comes from Toledo. He was 8-5 in 2010 and 8-4 in 2011. One of the first things he did was hand out wrist bands to all football personnel. On the wristband is the word "One." It stands for "Operation New Era."
Illinois finished last year with a 20-14 win over UCLA in the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Illini hope to improve on their 6-6 regular season record of 2011. Illinois only had two wins in the Big Ten Conference last year, ending with a 2-6 record.
Official Name: University of Illinois; Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
College Population: 42,606 students and 11,066 staff members
Famous Alumni: Jesse Jackson, Carol Moseley Braun, John Malkovich, Hugh Hefner, George Carruthers, Bob Novak, Sheila Johnson and Robert Johnson
Nickname: The Fighting Illini
Conference: Big Ten
Team Colors: Orange and navy blue
Fight Song: "Illinois Loyalty"
Head Coach: Tim Beckman; this is his first season as head coach at Illinois
Memorial Stadium: Sits 60,670 football fans
First Game at Memorial Stadium: Nov. 3, 1923. Illinois defeated Chicago 7-0.
Cheerleaders: 28 (10 males and 18 females)
National Championships: 5 (1914, 1919, 1923, 1927 and 1951)
Big Ten Titles: 15; last one in 2001.
Rose Bowl Games: 5 (1947, 1952, 1964, 1984, 2008) -- 3-2 record
Eight Bowl Game Victories: The last one being the Hunger Bowl in 2011.
Retired Numbers: Illinois has only two retired numbers -- 50 for Dick Butkus and 77 for Red Grange.
All Americans: Illinois has had 19 consensus All-Americans in college football.
Key Home Games in 2012: Sept. 29 vs. Penn State and Oct. 27 vs. Indiana (homecoming)
Red Grange: Harold Edward Grange played for Illinois in the early '20s. In 2011, he was named as the No. 1 icon of the Big Ten football conference. In 2008, ESPN ranked him as the No. 1 college football player of all time.
Dick Butkus: Butkus is known for being one of the best defensive college football players ever. He even has a special award in his name that is given to the best linebacker in college football each year. After his career with the Chicago Bears, he went into the Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Hall of Fame Coaches: Illinois has had five college football coaches named to the Hall of Fame: Edward Hall, George Woodruff, Robert Zuppke, Bob Blackman and Pete Elliott.
The author has been a University of Illinois college football fan since 1961.