Tag:Paul Petrino
Posted on: April 5, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Gruden's plane hit by lightning on way to Chicago

Posted by Tom Fornelli

THAT GUY who currently spends his time on ESPN in the Monday Night Football booth talking about FOOTBALL PLAYERS, and was once rumored to be the new head coach at Miami, had a scary experience on Thursday night. Jon Gruden was on a plane bound for Chicago because he had agreed to take part in the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Clinic with Illinois coach Ron Zook. Only Gruden never made it to Chicago, as his plane was hit by lightning when it was only twenty minutes out of Tampa.

"All of a sudden, the woman next to me asked, 'Did you hear something?' " Gruden told The Tampa Tribune. "I told her I definitely heard a weird noise. You could sense something was up. Then the flight attendant came on the speaker and said we got hit by lightning."

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Orlando where fire trucks waited in case anything went wrong. You know, besides that whole being hit by lightning thing. Gruden then called Zook from the tarmac and explained to him that he wouldn't be making the clinic, which is probably not the first time Ron Zook was told by someone that they couldn't make an event with him because they'd been struck by lightning, only this time it was the truth. Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino took Gruden's place, and Gruden promised that he'd speak at the clinic next year.

Gruden then decided to drive home from Orlando back to Tampa in a rental car, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's how he chooses to get to Champaign next season as well.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Illinois gives Ron Zook a raise

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Illinois finished its season with a 7-6 mark thanks to a win over Baylor in the Texas Bowl, which wouldn't ordinarily be something to be incredibly proud of. Sure, it's nothing to be ashamed of, but winning one more game than you lose, and taking home a December bowl game isn't exactly the type of performance you build your program on.

However, this is Illinois. The Texas Bowl victory was the school's first bowl win since the MicronPC Bowl in 1999, and only it's third bowl victory since 1991. So in Champaign, when you pick up a bowl win, that means that Ron Zook and a couple of assistants are getting raises.
Illini Athletic Director Ron Guenther said Wednesday that Zook's annual salary will be increased from $1.5 million to $1.75 million once approved by university trustees.
Guenther said Zook's staff will get raises, too. That includes offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Petrino will get a $50,000 raise to $525,000 a year and Koenning will be paid $342,000, a $17,000 bump. 
Guenther also said that Illinois' bowl win over Baylor is the school's first step towards regular bowl appearances, though I'm sure he felt the same way after Zook and the Illini went to the Rose Bowl 2008. After being trounced by USC in that game, the Illini only won eight games over the next two seasons. Which led to the staff overhaul that saw Petrino and Koenning come to town.

So while there may be reasons to be optimistic about the direction the Illinois football team is taking, I'm just saying that if I were running things, I think I might wait until I made back-to-back postseason appearances before proclaiming things have been turned around.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:08 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Texas Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Ron Zook got the first bowl victory of his career as Illinois handed Baylor a 38-14 loss in Houston.

Illinois


Offense: This was likely Illinois' best all-around performance of the season since it beat Penn State, as both the offense and defense performed extremely well.  We already knew that Illinois could get the job done on the ground, but Nathan Scheelhaase showed everybody why he has such a bright future on Wednesday night.  The freshman completed 18-of-23 passes for 242 yards, while contributing 53 yards and a touchdown rushing.  Of course, 55 of those yards came on one play in the closing seconds as he kept the ball on a bootleg and nobody from Baylor followed him.  Still, as good as Scheelhaase was, Mikel LeShoure was the star of the show.  LeShoure rushed for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns to set the Illinois single season marks for yards in a season and touchdowns.  The Illini just had their way with Baylor all night long, racking up 533 total yards.  Grade: A

Defense: Illinois' defense hasn't gotten as much respect as it probably deserved this season thanks to some rough games against Michigan and Minnesota, but this unit isn't nearly as mediocre as most people think.  Case in point: On Wednesday night the Illini held a Baylor team that had averaged 32.6 points per game and 478.5 yards per game to 14 points.  Corey Liuget and the defensive line were in Robert Griffin's face all night, and most importantly, got off the field on third down, allowing Baylor to convert only two of ten third downs.  Grade: A

Coaching: After last season Ron Zook decided that if he wanted to keep his job and turn the Illinois program around he was going to have to start over.  So he overhauled his coaching staff and brought on Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning to run the offense and the defense.  Well, it paid off.  Zook has the first bowl win of his career thanks to the game plans his coordinators drew up to stop Baylor, and suddenly things are looking good in Champaign again.  Grade: A

Baylor


Offense: Robert Griffin is a remarkable kid. I feel the need to make this point because I'm sure a lot of college football fans don't get the chance to see Baylor play all that often, but I assure you, the Robert Griffin you saw tonight was not the Robert Griffin the Big 12 saw most of the season.  I'm not sure whether Baylor was nervous playing in its first bowl game in so long, but the Bears just didn't have it out of the gate on Wednesday night.  They showed some flashes on offense in the second half, but they were few and far between, and just not in time.  Any rhythm the team did pick up was quickly thrown off by penalties or bad decisions, and the Baylor offense that had shown up all season just never made its way to Houston.  Some of this has to be attributed to Illinois' defense, but Baylor didn't do itself any favors.  Grade: D

Defense: Was there that kid in your grade school that liked to beat up on younger, smaller kids during recess?  You know, the fifth grader with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove to the second grader?  Well, Illinois' offense was the fifth grader on Wednesday, and Baylor's defense was the second grader just lying on the ground hoping that a teacher would show up to break up the fight before he was dead.  You got the feeling that Illinois could have let Baylor know what it was going to do before every play and Baylor still couldn't have stopped it.  Grade: F

Coaching: There Baylor coaching staff isn't going to find much on the game film to be happy about when they get back to Waco.  It was just a bad night and the coaching staff deserves some of the blame for the Bears coming out so flat to start the game.  Still, considering what Art Briles has done at Baylor during his three years, and where this program could be going, it's hard for me to give Briles and company a terrible grade.  Grade: C

Final Grade


I was hoping this game would be a shootout that would come down to who had the ball last, or at least the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.  Instead it was a game that was pretty easy to figure out early, and felt more like a three and a half hour Illinois coronation ceremony.  Which is nice for Illinois fans, but for the impartial observer, it's rather boring.  Grade: D
 
 
 
 
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