VIDEO: Illini Now/SI Morning Update With Matthew Stevens - June 30, 2020

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illini Now/Sports Illustrated publisher/editor Matthew Stevens turns his attention to Pat Forde's digital cover story from Monday morning. 

Stevens explains in this video how Sports Illustrated senior writer Pat Forde, in all likelihood without knowing it, with his Monday cover piece titled “America, Realigned: A Radical Reimagining of the NCAA Landscape” stripped away another level of how Illinois fans define themselves: A Big Ten school. Which, at least in terms of simply name recognition, puts them on equally footing as an Ohio State and Michigan in one of the most traditionally-based and influential leagues in college sports. Being part of the Big Ten has helped define Illinois fans by close proximity rivalries with Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

In Forde’s world, that is all gone. Illinois is now relegated to playing in a conference where geographically, and that was explained in the piece as most important, Illinois doesn’t have a natural rival outside of Northwestern and Northern Illinois (and we’ll get to why it’ll burn the orange and blue blood of all Illini fans to be placed on the same level as the folks in Dekalb). In Forde’s world, Illinois will now play conference games in Morgantown, West Virginia, Huntington, West Virginia, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lexington, Kentucky., and Bowling Green, Kentucky. These places aren’t synonymous with the midwest or upper midwest of the United States of America. If you’re a U of I student and you want to make road trips to way games, there’s no more trips to horseshoe in Columbus, the ‘Big House’ in Ann Arbor, no more trips to the “other” Assembly Hall in Bloomington, no more trips to Carver-Hawkeye or even West Lafayette, Ind., in Purdue, where current Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman was born and went to high school.
In this video, Stevens explains why Forde’s dream of what FBS conferences should look like is a nightmare for Illinois but they’re all wrapped around one concept: Relegation. Like in Premier League soccer, once again, Illinois has been relegated to a second-class status.

Stevens also gives you content to look forward also gives you a look at the content you can expect to see on the site before the end of your workday.