This Sports Illustrated cover shows the uniforms worn by the Illini during the Dick Butkus era. The Fighting Illini will wear similar throwback jerseys and helmets in the home opener Sept. 6 against Eastern Illinois.
Feb. 13, 2008
The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced plans for the rededication of Memorial Stadium to take place on Sept. 6 in the home opener against Eastern Illinois. The Fighting Illini will wear throwback jerseys honoring the Dick Butkus era. Also, the DIA will honor the greatest Illinois gridders that played at Memorial Stadium during eight timeouts throughout the game.
"This is a must see, once-in-a-lifetime event for Fighting Illini football fans," said Assistant Director of Athletics Chris Hanna. "We believe fans will get chills seeing many of the history makers, who made Memorial Stadium such a revered venue, standing side-by-side at one timeout after another. This is an event that will be talked about for years to come."
A fan vote will be held on fightingillini.com/CoachRonZook.com that establishes the top 10 players at the following positions: quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, and specialist. Fan voting will begin on Monday, March 10 and conclude on Thursday, Apr. 10. The results of the fan balloting will be announced soon thereafter.
Players will appear on the ballot if they earned first or second team All Big Ten honors or if they played at least four years in the NFL. Harold "Red" Grange, Dick Butkus, Tony Eason, Jeff George, Howard Griffith, Kevin Hardy, Dana Howard, Ray Nitschke, Rashard Mendenhall, and J Leman will be among the names fans can support for this tremendous distinction. Illinois will make every effort to have as many living members of this elite group as possible appear on the field Sept. 6.
The Butkus Era throwback jerseys will provide another special touch. The jersey will be very similar in look to the Fighting Illini jerseys of that time--blue with orange numbers. The helmets will also be made to resemble the Butkus style, featuring bold player numbers.
"Nike creates very few throwback jerseys each college football season," Hanna said. "We are excited Nike chose to create the Butkus Era jersey for us to both honor one of our great legends and make the Rededication Game that much more special."
Memorial Stadium was originally dedicated in 1924 to the Illini who gave their lives in World War I. That dedication was subsequently extended in 2002 to include those who gave their lives in all wars and conflicts.