We’re bearing down on Labor Day Weekend, and that means the beginning of the seven and a half month period from August to (God willing) April where Illini football and basketball combine to torment the fiber of my being.
My wife once likened my Illini fandom to a disease. This may or may not have happened as I watched pretty much every second of a meaningless December game that saw a 3-8 team lose on an overtime two-point conversion that was deflected and caught by an offensive lineman:
The saddest part was not that it actually happened (although I did feel compelled to post video evidence just now….it sounds completely made up), but that in all honesty, I couldn’t say I was surprised. After all, I’ve been in the house for a loss to San Jose St. This is a football program that is notoriously inconsistent from game to game and from season to season. Sugar Bowl in 2001? 5-7 in 2002. Rose Bowl (!) in 2007? 5-7 in 2008. It’s almost enough to make me long for the mid-90s, where Illinois didn’t actually win anything, but reliably beat people up on defense every game.
So I guess it’s not a disease. Disease implies some stroke of poor luck. I know what I’m getting into, know it will – in all likelihood – end badly, and yet I repeat it every autumn. It’s like a drug habit. I’m totally deserving of the intervention banner, except most of my friends are relapsing at the same time, so there’s no one to really hold one.
As the countdown is on until a sixth straight loss to Mizzou (that’s embarrassing…I hope we never lose nine in a row to them, I don’t know what I’d do), I’ll read the sugar-coated reports coming out of Camp Rantoul and at first discount them, but slowly but surely start having thoughts like “Hmm, the coaches are swearing like longshoremen and demanding discipline and the freshman QB looks scrappy and HEY WE’RE JUST A FEW BOUNCES AWAY FROM BEING FEISTY.” Repeat every day until September 4.
I can quit any time, seriously. But you just never know when they’re gonna drop one of these on you: