Can't Wait For Saturday | Schools can be be successful in football AND hoops

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Greetings from "Can't Wait For Saturday," your morning morsel of college football, courtesy of longtime Illini beat writer, AP Top 25 voter and Heisman state rep Bob Asmussen. He'll give you his views each day on the game he loves.


There was a bonus coach at the Illinois football press conference Monday and his alma mater, Kansas State, gives Illinois men's basketball boss Brad Underwood some gridiron credibility.

Underwood had a session with the media at the Memorial Stadium press box before Bret Bielema and coordinators Barry Lunney Jr. and Aaron Henry met the press.

The success of the football team is important to the men's basketball coach. It offers a window into the the university athletic program and also provides an event to see during campus visits by recruits.

It works both ways, football players are taken to basketball games during their visits, too.

In a perfect world, Illinois hopes to be good in both sports, Currently, only Underwood's team is in The Associated Press Top 25. Bielema's football team hasn't been ranked all season.

It is possible to play at a high level in football and men's basketball. Arizona is ranked in both sports. So are Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama and James Madison.

Of course, three teams in the current basketball Top 25 don't have football, including Marquette, which plays at Illinois on Tuesday night. Creighton and Gonzaga are the others.

Back to Underwood and football, Kansas State was one of the worst football programs in the country during Underwod's time there. in the mid-1980s. In fact, until Bill Snyder's arrival in 1989, Kansas State had been to only one bowl in its history. Snyder, one of Bielema's mentors, fixed that, guiding the Wildcats to 19 bowls in two stints at the school.

Kansas State football is good again, currently ranked No. 23 under fifth-year coach Chris Klieman, who replaced Snyder in 2019.