Back here at the Irwin Football Complex, after visitors pass the study hall, they view the Wall of Fame, which gives a pictorial history of the program. Each coaching era is commemorated by a bronzed plaque with the coach’s likeness and his record.
Among the highlighted individuals is Robert Zuppke, one of the most innovative football coaches of all-time.
He coached the legendary Galloping Ghost, Red Grange,
and the field at Memorial Stadium is named after him. Zuppke, who led Illinois to four national championships, is buried in the cemetery across the street from the Stadium, even with the 50-yard line.
The main hallway is also a showcase for photos of all the U of I Bowl teams and Illini in the NFL, and features some of Illinois’ brightest stars, such as Grange, Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski.
The immortal Red Grange was a three-time All-American halfback in the 1920’s and held three NCAA rushing records until Illini Howard Griffith broke them nearly 70 years later. Grange, along with George Halas, was one of the main driving forces of the NFL in its very early years.
Dick Butkus, the greatest linebacker of all time, was a two-time All-American at Illinois in the mid-60’s; he went on to an illustrious professional career with the Chicago Bears. He and Red Grange are the only two Illinois football players to have had their jersey numbers retired.
Jim Grabowski, a contemporary of Butkus, was an All-American both on the field and in the classroom. A first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers, he played in the first two Super Bowls.
As they enter the outer office, visitors see a large photograph of a touchdown run by Robert Holcombe, who has gone on from Illinois to play for the Super Bowl Champion St. Louis Rams.