Farewell from an Illini sports writer, fan

By Mike Theodore

Covering wrestling, softball and football the past two years, I am privileged and thankful to have seen a side of Illinois athletics many covet but few realize. In just more than 100 bylines, I’ve been provided with an incredible assortment of memories and experiences.

A few highlights:

Watching from the sideline as Juice Williams took down then top-ranked Ohio State in the Horseshoe with a gutsy time-consuming drive, which will rank in the upper-echelon of Illini football memories forever.

A week in California covering the Rose Bowl and dining with coach Locksley and his family at the Lawry’s Beef Bowl.

Taking in conference wrestling matches at a packed Huff Hall.

A 50-hour plus Greyhound trip to the Rose Bowl filled with tear-dropped ex-convicts, alleged illegal immigrants, no heat, a self-proclaimed Jesus/Armageddon savant, way too much heat and frightening tales of the road from an over-caffeinated early morning driver.

This being my one and only time to write a column, I’d like to state two brief thoughts: Let Chief Illiniwek XXXVII and all future Chiefs dance, and stop with the unwarranted Bruce Weber criticism (haven’t Illini fans seen first hand these overly simplified blanket statements made about head coaches to be inaccurate?).

Special thanks to Dave Just, Steve Contorno, Dan Johnson, Jason Grodsky, Alex Symonds, Adam Harris, Cassie Arner, coach Mark Johnson, the Birnbaum family, Ron Seliga, Frank Napolitano and most importantly my friends and family.

So long, Champaign.