CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — What does the national sports media think about the progress of the Illinois football and basketball rebuilds? Craig Choate asked ESPN studio host Rece Davis.
“What’s the national perception of Lovie Smith and this Illinois football rebuild?”
“Well I think the thing with Lovie is everybody understands what an accomplished coach he is. The question is, can he gain some momentum? You have a finite period of time in college football to gain some momentum. I think they’re moving in a positive direction but you need some results and I think the perception is if he could get some momentum going, have a good season and start tapping into some of those fertile recruiting areas, for years for as long as I can remember Illinois has always been the proverbial sleeping giant, opportunity to really do big things. Just takes a little time and I think once they get some positive momentum going they could be a really good story.”
“Has that perception changed at all in his first two and a halfish years?”
“I would love to pump some sunshine and say yes, but I think it’s still people are waiting to see. So I think you give it a little time and give it a little time for some improvements, some big wins, maybe an upset here or there to gain some attention and traction and that’s when you’ll start to see the perception change.”
“And then basketball kind of in the same situation. Where do you see them heading with Brad Underwood?”
“He’s a proven commodity as well. Has done a great job everywhere he’s been. And I think clearly there’s such great success at Illinois over the years that you know that they’re going to win. Basketball is a quicker turn than football because it doesn’t take as many guys, that’s just the way it is. And that’s not to diminish one, or to say it’s easy, it’s certainly not easy but it doesn’t take as many people to turn it around. I think the way Brad has been able to get the most out of players at every stop along the way that he’ll continue to do so and I think you’ll see Illinois in the very near future contending for conference championships and being a regular participant in the NCAA tournament.”