Now Was the Wrong Time to Bench Juice

October 10, 2009

Today should have been Juice’s Last Stand.

No, I’m not talking about the latest fledgling fruit drink franchise to be crushed by the heartless corporate shell Orange Julius. I mean Juice Williams, the embattled senior quarterback for the Fighting Illini football team.  Juice has been the poster boy for an Illini season that started so promising, and now conjures up what Illini fans hoped were long-forgotten nightmares of Tepper and Turner.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook made the call early this week:  Junior backup Eddie McGee would make his first career start under center, against the Michigan State Spartans and their evil, racist mascot Sparty.

This was the wrong call for a number of reasons.  First of all, Illinois finally gets to play a mediocre opponent at home.  Sure, the Illini and Juice have looked terrible in their three losses.  But for a moment, consider the opponents:  Missouri, Ohio State, and Penn State.  All three of those teams are currently ranked.  Ohio State and Penn State are both in the top 15. Only one of those games – last week’s 35-17 disappointment against the Nittany Lions – has been in the somewhat friendly, renovated confines of Memorial Stadium.

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Sparty the Spartan: Evil Mascot

January 21, 2009


Did you know that Michigan State University, one of the most esteemed and respected public universities in the world, has a mascot that is a member of a specific ethnic group?

I was watching last Saturday’s disappointing 63-57 loss by the Fighting Illini to then tenth-ranked Michigan State when I noticed something rather alarming.

I just kept thinking to myself, this can’t possibly be. I had to rewind my TiVo just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. In this day and age, you just don’t think this kind of thing is possible. I mean, did we not inaugurate Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States today? Kind of makes you take for granted that we have progressed past this kind of bigotry as a society. But no, when ESPN came back from commercial after a timeout, there he was. I could hardly believe my eyes.

His name…is Sparty the Spartan. He looks like this:

Sparty the Spartan (File Photo)

Sparty the Spartan (File Photo)

With his Popeye-like arms, horribly oversized head, and generally dopey look on his face – clearly he is a caricature of the well-known civilization from ancient Greece.

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