Welcome back to another year of Kevin McCarthy

By Kevin McCarthy, Assistant Sports On-Air Editor

Each new school year brings with it a renewed sense of hope. It’s a chance to start fresh and create new goals.

With that, I’ll begin my first column of the new school year by sharing with you a personal aspiration.

But first, some context. Photos were released of a football mounted on a stand in the Illini locker room with the word “takeaway” written above it.

Surrounding the ball, it says, “strip, punch and yank,” — the purpose of the ball is for players to always remember to try to take the football away on defense.
That idea is at the crux of Lovie Smith’s defensive philosophy.

As I look at the mounted ball, I see nothing that says this is just a challenge for the Illini football team.
It simply says to take the football away — this appears to be challenge to all — so, I’d like to say, “challenge accepted, Lovie.”

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It’s now my mission to take that football away. And when I do, I’ll hold it ransom until Illini quarterback Wes Lunt agrees to play catch with me.
We’ll arrive at more substantive thoughts in a moment, but first, a few more things about me and what this space will be each Thursday morning.

I write goofy columns for this newspaper. My editors have so graciously allowed me to continue my antics for another year — I’m on a week-by-week contract, though. I could, at any moment, lose this privilege and no one, myself included, would be surprised.

I like what I do here. I almost always write my columns in my underwear. I’ve been asking around and there are very few jobs that you can do in just your underpants.

The only other undergarment-gig I could find was to be a model for Hanes or Calvin Klein, but both denied my application.

Allow a moment for jaws to drop to the floor, either out of befuddlement that I wasn’t hired, or at the thought of me modeling underwear. Either reaction is equally valid.

Anyway, it’s a new school year, and isn’t that exciting? Someway, somehow — perhaps by magic, with a swift motion of a wand, and a simple “abracadabra” from Illini AD Josh Whitman — the Illini ship has traversed the ocean’s raging wild.

And for those Illini fans who survived the turmoil, I have two simple messages. One, your patience is commendable. Two, and I say this earnestly, you have plenty to be excited about.

The results will not come right away. In fact, the aforementioned patience will be necessary moving forward, but the excitement that Lovie’s football team and John Groce’s recruiting splashes have garnered is warranted.

Better days are ahead.

Now, a call to action. I like to get my readers involved in my columns. Last year, we tried naming Lovie’s new defense. “The ‘Paign Gang” was the best entry; however, “The UGL Doors” was a close second (If you’re a freshman, you’ll understand after your first trip to the library). Participation is what makes this space fun.

In fact, many readers write me simply to tell me that I’m an idiot.

I appreciate those emails because I am, in fact, an idiot. To those who email such words, I thank them for reading and for affirming what I already knew.

So, you get the point: let’s start a conversation.

In fact, reach out right now — what questions do you have for me? Want to see an interview with a specific coach or player? Would you rather see me wrestle two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez? Got an even better idea? Let me know.

Now, a homework assignment for each of you before the first day of classes begin. Send me an email, a tweet, or a message via carrier pigeon. I want to hear from you people. Let’s chat.

But, for now, I must retire to my bedroom: A cup of hot tea and a riveting game of scrabble awaits me.

I look forward to hearing from many of you.

Kevin is a junior in Media.
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