Orange and Blue Spring Game Information
Fighting Illini fans will get their first chance to watch head coach Tim Beckman and the new era of Illinois football at the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game, presented by Fighting Illini Energy, on April 14 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Admission and parking for the Spring Game is free. Parking will be available in the lots surrounding Memorial Stadium and the Assembly Hall. All seating for the game will be in the east stands.
The Orange and Blue teams were determined by a player draft on Tuesday night. The seniors were divided in half before selecting their teammates and coaching staff. Informtion on this year's honorary coaches can be found on page 2.
Some general rules for the Spring Game:
The game will be played with a normal clock in the first half and a running clock in the second half (except for the final two minutes if the game is close).
All drives after a score will start on the 30 yard line.
All punts will be fair caught.
Field goals will be kicked but there will be no rush.
Spring Game Coverage on the Big Ten Network
The Big Ten Network will stream Illinois' spring football game live at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 14, on both BTN2Go and the Big Ten Digital Network. It will air on BTN at 6 p.m. CT on Sunday. Brian Barnhart and former Illinois linebacker J Leman will call the game. BTN also will have highlights and analysis from that day's Big Ten spring games on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. CT on B1G Tonight Spring Football Edition with Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith.
Six Illini Greats to Return as Honorary Spring Game Coaches
Six former Illini will return to campus this weekend as honorary coaches for the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game. Honorary coaches for the Orange team will be Jeff George, Mike Holmes and Brit Miller, while Doug Dieken, Dana Howard and Tim McCarthy will patrol the sidelines for the Blue team.
Jeff George was Illinois' quarterback in 1988 and `89, earning All-Big Ten honors both years and honorable mention All-America honors in 1989. George was the No. 1 overall pick by the Colts in the 1990 NFL Draft and played 12 seasons in the NFL. Mike Holmes was a two-year starter at running back for the Orange and Blue in 1979 and '80, leading the team in rushing both seasons. Holmes currently is the head coach at Chicago Leo High School. Brit Miller started 38 games at linebacker from 2005-08, helping the 2007 Illini to a Rose Bowl appearance before leading the Big Ten in tackles as a senior in 2008. Miller is heading into his fourth season in the NFL in 2012 as a fullback with the St. Louis Rams.
Doug Dieken was a tight end for the Illini from 1968-70 before spending 14 seasons in the NFL as an offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns. Dieken was named NFL Man of the Year in 1982 and currently is a color commentator on Browns radio broadcasts. Dana Howard is one of the all-time greats to put on an Illinois uniform. Howard was a consensus All-American and won the 1994 Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. Howard spent three seasons in the NFL with the Rams and Bears and currently is a financial advisor at Morgan Keegan and the owner of the construction company Zoie LLC. Tim McCarthy was a safety for the Fighting Illini in 1969 and `70, but is most famous for being the United States Secret Service member who put himself in the line of fire to protect President Ronald Reagan during a 1981 assassination attempt. McCarthy is currently the chief of police in Orland Park, Ill.
1951 National Champions To Be Honored
Sixty years ago, the 1951 University of Illinois football team was selected as national champions after finishing the season 9-0-1 and hammering Stanford 40-7 in the Rose Bowl. At halftime of this weekend's Orange and Blue Spring Game, the 1951 squad will be honored for all of its accomplishments. The 1951 group is the last Illini team to finish a season undefeated. That season, the Illini outscored their opponents 220-83 over the course of the season and allowed only 20 total points in its final six games. For more information on the 1951 team, check out this feature story.
Illini Merchandise Sale
The DIA and Gameday Spirit Fan Store will host a Fighting Illini merchandise sale on Saturday, April 14, in conjunction with the Spring Game. Shoppers will be able to purchase used Illinois team-issued gear in addition to new officially licensed Fighting Illini clothing and souvenirs at discount prices in the Great East Hall of Memorial Stadium from 9 a.m. until the conclusion of the Spring Game. Free parking is available in the Assembly Hall north quadrant lots.
Fan Voting Open for Loyal-Tee Shirt Contest
DIA officials have selected "A New Era BECKons" as the winner of the 2012 Football Season Loyal-Tee Shirt Slogan Contest. Beth Collins of Champaign submitted the slogan and is the winner of a pair of 2012 Illinois football season tickets and a $125 gift card to Gameday Spirit Fan Stores. The slogan was chosen from over 750 entries.
Fighting Illini fans can help choose the design of the 2012 Loyal-Tee shirt. Four different t-shirt designs have been made based on the winning slogan. The design that gets the most votes will be featured on the front of the shirt, while the 2012 football schedule will be on the back.
Fans can vote for their favorite design from now until 5 pm on April 20. The winning design will be announced and shirts will go on sale online and at Gameday Spirit locations in early May.
Football Family Fun Fest Set for April 21
The Fighting Illini football team will host the annual Football Family Fun Fest on Saturday, April 21, from 10-11:30 a.m. on the playing field at Memorial Stadium. Fans will be able to meet the new coaching staff and collect autographs, take photos and participate in a variety of fun activities with Illinois players. Football drills and competitions will be available for youngsters age 13 and under in addition to inflatable games like the bounce house, bungee run, and giant slide.
Football Family Fun Fest is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the NW and NE parking lots of Assembly Hall and in the grass lot west of the stadium if weather permits. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility.
Fighting Illini Caravan to Hit Nine Cites Starting in May
The DIA will once again reach out to the Illini Nation on a nine-city caravan tour from May 16-June 1. New Illini football coach Tim Beckman, men's basketball coach John Groce and women's basketball coach Matt Bollant, along with several other Olympic sport coaches will conduct school and hospital visits and host an I-FUND Reception in each city. Illinois fans can register for each reception, which is $25 per person, by calling the I-FUND office at 217333-6277 or at the Fighting Illini Caravan website.