University students anticipate new era in Illinois football


Lily Katz

Lovie Smith thanks the Illini Marching Band in the Illini Union on March 7.

By Cole Henke , Staff writer


Alex Chinn, freshman

Are you looking forward to Illinois football opener this weekend?

“I am really looking forward to it. I don’t think its going to be a very good game. I hope it isn’t a good game I hope we destroy them, because the rest of the season would be pretty ugly if we didn’t.But I am really looking forward to it.

What did you think when you heard, “Lovie Smith, Illinois head football coach”?

I was really excited to hear Lovie Smith was named head coach. Honestly the last couple have been disappointing, but I am sure once he gets his recruiting classes in future years it will be better.

Do you have season tickets? How many games are you going to go to?

I have student season tickets. I plan on going to every game. I’m most excited for the Minnesota game. I think that will be the most even game of this season.

What record would mean a successful season for the Illini?

I think a successful season for the Illini this year would be to just win more games than they lose.


Drew Franklin, freshman

Do you have season tickets for this football season? If so,are you excited for the season to star?

I already got my season tickets. I have faith in Lovie. It is nice to come to this school and be good at football, or at least have faith that you will be. I was a big fan of Lovie when he coached the Bears, but I didn’t follow him at all when he was in Tampa.

What did you like the most about Lovie when he coached the Bears?

I like how he always seemed to have his team together more than other NFL coaches. It was Lovie’s team. It wasn’t some superstars team.

Are you going to the game Saturday?

I will definitely be going to the game Saturday, the free student tickets are great. I am really excited for the first game, but I don’t know.

What would constitute a successful season for the Illini?

It’d be nice to see the team have a winning season, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself on that one.


Jack Lebert, junior

What did you think when you heard “Lovie Smith, Illinois head football coach?”

I was excited to hear Lovie Smith was going to be our next coach. I was born in Chicago and raised a Bears fan. So I knew a lot about him from his time in Chicago. It was cool that we got a prominent football coach and I knew his name.

What has your attendance been like at Illinois football games in the past? Will you go to more this year?

I went to a few games freshman year and a few games sophomore year. I will be going to more games this year. I think there is a general excitement all over campus.

What’s your expectations for the team this year?

I don’t think there is too high of an expectations on wins and losses, but people are more excited about the change in culture. They are very focused on winning. It is going to be refreshing to hear that they are actually trying to win.


Stephanie Martynenko, senior

How are you feeling about this Illinois football season?

I’m feeling better about it, I don’t know. We’re obviously still trying to figure it out how it’s going to be. New coaching, whole new department basically just trying to see how the season will go and this first game will show it.

Do you have season tickets?

I don’t have season tickets, but I had them my freshman year.

Have you noticed a change in the energy regarding football on campus?

I feel like it’s a lot higher, the morale is a lot more up. And we have a lot more hope I guess now that we have a new coaching staff and we’re just trying to see how the first game will go and see if it sets the mood for the whole season.

Are you going to be at the game on Saturday?

Will not be in attendance because of (sorority) recruitment. I don’t know if it’s been like that before but I think that’s just the way it falls this year. I think normally we do it earlier but it just happened that way.


Arjit Jaiswal, Sophomore

What are your feelings toward Illinois football this year?

I won’t lie I didn’t watch at all last year, Lovie Smith is exciting though. When he got announced as coach I came to the Union for his meet and greet thing. However, I still don’t think I will be watching this year unless we’re doing really well. Just can’t find the time more than anything but it’s great that he’s here.

What has Lovie Smith brought to the program? How do you feel about him being hired?

It’s really helping out with recruitment and a lot of the conversations I had with friends over the summer they seemed excited with the players we were getting.

I thought it was crazy because I’ve been a bears fan forever. I was like holy s**t that’s awesome. I was a big fan of him with the Bears and was actually really sad when he left. Marc Trestman was really bad with the Bears. He’s great. He’s a really good defensive mind so more than anything I’m just happy that we got an NFL coach to come coach at U of I and hopefully get us to do well in the Big Ten.

Do you have season tickets?

I do not have tickets.

What do hope for from the Illinois football program?

I wouldn’t say anything in particular I’m just hoping that by my junior or senior year that our recruits will come through.


Paul Pagos, sophomore

Do you think Lovie Smith can turn the program around?

Yeah I think so. I think Lovie is going to do a good job coaching. I feel like this season isn’t going to be as great though because our recruitment wasn’t as great before. After recruitment we got Lovie so maybe in like two years I expect this team to do great things.

How do you think this season is going to go?

I’m not sure how this season is going to go. I have season tickets with Block I, and I had season tickets last year, too.
Within Block I, one of my friends is one of the heads of Illini pride and they definitely wanna do more card stunts. I think there’s more blockheads than usual.

Are you excited for this season?

The Athletic Department gave away two free student tickets to each student this year. I’m not sure if they did that last year, but it got rained out and the game was moved to Saturday. I don’t think it’s gonna rain Saturday so I think it should be fine.


Rachel Rahn, sophomore

Are you excited for the game on Saturday?

I am excited for it, I’m definitely not going to be able to go though because I’m gonna be out of town.
I don’t have season tickets, I had them last year, though.

Are you going to go to any games this year?

Definitely, I always take my dad for dad’s weekend and then homecoming is always a big one. I’ll probably go to a couple of others at least. I was in Block I last year so I went to a few games, but I’ll go to more this year.

What are your expectations for this season?

Hopefully we will actually win a few games, that would be different.

What do you think the crowds are going to be like?

I think crowds are going to get bigger especially because of Lovie. I think there’s going to be a lot more people.

What did you think about the Lovie Smith hire?

I was super excited, as was the rest of the campus. It was all over facebook, everyone sharing all of the articles. People in my sorority have lovie smith posters in our rooms and stuff. We’re pumped.


Hunter Tyson, freshman

Are you going to the game Saturday?

I actually won’t be here, but yeah I’m excited because I heard Lovie Smith is the new head coach and that’s gonna be cool because he was the coach of the Bears.

How many games are you going to go to?

I plan on going to a few games. I’ve never been to a game.

What are you most excited about?

Coming from highschool it’s different and it’ll be different to see 51,000 people in one area, it’s different to see all those people in the crowd.


Jerome Williams, Junior

What are your thoughts about the upcoming football season?

I think overall Lovie Smith has a lot to live up to. The reputation of U of I football hasn’t been as good as usual the last couple of years. But, I think he’s done a good job so far in just looking at all of the videos and seeing what he’s done with the team. We’ll see on Saturday.

Are you going to the game Saturday?

I will be attending on Saturday, but I don’t have season tickets.

What do you think is riding on this first game?

I think the first game for a lot of people is gonna be a big indicator for if they should get season tickets.

What did you think about the Lovie Smith hire?

It was a big change, it shows that the university does want to go in the right direction. They want a better football team and the reason the picked a new head coach was to overhaul the whole system. They didn’t want to go player by player but just wanted somebody who could organize a team at the managerial level.


Jack Vanpatten, sophomore

Are you excited about the game on Saturday?

I am very excited personally. I’ve been an Illinois fan and I’m really excited to see how everything’s going and to see that everything’s going in a positive direction in trying to make the team better. All the coaches seem very well equipped to do their job and I’m really excited about it.

What did you think when you heard “Lovie Smith, Illinois head football coach?”

I was very excited. I grew up a Bears fan and he was always one of my favorite coaches so I was really excited to hear that.
I went to every football game last year in Block I.

What do you expect the crowds will be like on Saturday?

I expect more people and for everyone to be more excited. I expect the team to come out and put in a good effort instead of last year against some other teams especially the better ones to just show up and hope we don’t get killed. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay and watch the whole game and I think that’s how a lot of people feel about it.

What will constitute a successful Illinois season?

Hopefully we get 6 wins and maybe get to a bowl game, hopefully play a bowl game and win. I think it’s hard to expect too much because it’s still the same players.

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