Smile Politely

Looking ahead to 2010

Yeah, so Illinois lost on Senior Day. As the actress said to the bishop; I wouldn’t call it unexpected.

So instead of feeling bummed, I suggest we revel in a great football moment: An offensive lineman made the game-winning catch.

To O-line guys all over (and yes, I was one) Devan Cunningham is a hero.

For all the guys who’ve toiled their lives so some showboat can dance unscathed through a giant hole, get the girls, the glory and the money — Devan Cunningham is a hero.

I spoke with Devan after the game. It was a real pleasure. He was joyful, huge and nerdy.

Devan recalls an intellectual Drederick TatumThe Simpsons parody of Mike Tyson. When a guy can bench press an entire cow, stands 6’6″ and weighs 350 lbs. — no one one ever gets around to telling him that he talks like a sissy.

I’m outspokenly pro-sissy, of course. So I thought it was great.

There were only three reporters, all young people, waiting in the tiny box of a room where opposing coaches and players meet the press. In basketball, all the coaches and players from either team descend on a common media room. In football, the reporter has to pick which team he wants to cover, or hoof it across the field a few times in hopes of catching snippets from both sides.

For once, it worked out. Devan’s moment of glory came so late in the game, the Fresno SID had to make special arrangements. Devan didn’t come out until he’d showered, and taken a few minutes to make sure friends DVRed SportsCenter.

So I also had the chance to catch Juice Williams final presser. That was a treat, too.

Juice’s upbeat attitude after Saturday’s game might be a product of his optimistic outlook, or his sunny disposition. Or maybe it’s that he knows his football days are not over. And from now on, he’ll be compensated for his services.

Juice, thank you.

We appreciate your time here. Not for the wins, not for the passing, not for the rushing. It’s not the Rose Bowl and it’s not Ohio State. It’s all of that, but more. We appreciate you because you’re an electric character. Whatever you do draws a charge.

Good luck to you.

Illinois football is not over, either. Someday, swarms of persons will once again flock to Memorial Stadium. They will feast on hors d’oeuvre from sushi to souvlaki to beignets. All the women will be strong, all the men good looking, and all the children above average.

But in 2010 … well, let’s phrase this optimistically: You will not worry about finding a seat.

The children may be above average, but the adults will be paunchy, pasty and middle-aged. They will accept culinary fixtures from 1983’s hot lunch menu — fairly recently debagged/rewarmed tortilla chips a la plastic tray avec une side of melted Velveeta.

But wait, there’s less! Non-Kosher hot dogs at their interminably boiledest! (The beefs are pricey.)

Ideally, the Division (not “department” Loren) of Intercollegiate Athletics will revisit the $8 ticket. Nosebleed seats are great for football; you can see everything. But there’s not a huge market for them when the team goes 5–7, then 3–9.

The price point for a regular loser is not double digits. If you want that we eat your nachos and buy your program, DIA — meet us at the low end.

I bought $8 tix last time the County Market-centric promo was offered. The opponent was Florida A&M. Heather and I enjoyed the game with my dad’s longtime colleague Vernon Burton and his wife Georgeanne. Smile Politely editors will be thrilled to know that Vernon turned his back, enjoying a solemn view of practice fields and Mount Hope Cemetery, during the mascot dance.

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