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B1G 2016 // Illinois Potluck Part 1: We Done Changed The Bacon Game

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Illinois Football suddenly becomes quite appetizing, or at least intriguing enough to warrant a glance.

There's only so many pictures of Lovie!
There's only so many pictures of Lovie!
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Five years ago, Destihl Restaurant & Brewery of Normal, IL opened a second location in downtown Champaign and immediately had an impact. All you have to do to convince people to go there with you is to utter three words: Beer Battered Bacon.

beer battered bacon

^^This is often the pick-me-up I need after driving 500 miles to witness a crushing defeat.

Five years later, thousands of new season ticket holders bought in after hearing two words: Lovie Smith. On March 5th, Illini fans were dreading the coming year with a lame-duck MAC retread coach on a 2-year contract who had just inked a recruiting class in the 70's nationally.

Two days later, there was real excitement for Illinois football and a multitude of positive headlines. I think I can safely say that nobody expected this to happen. What other swift program-changing events around the B1G compare to this massive coup? When have you been suddenly rejuvenated from apathy as a fan?

C4B: For football, I've probably got one of the weirder "program-changing events" that brought a lot of attention back to Indiana football: that time when Kevin Wilson called out noted moron Jack Trudeau and his radio cohost on the air for talking shit about the Hoosiers right before talking to Wilson. It was actually kinda inspiring that Wilson immediately drew that line in the sand for a program he'd been the head coach of for a couple of months at most at that point. While the on-field result took a bit longer to shake out, having a coach that very publicly took the program seriously was a huge step up.

MNW: That Trudeau kerfuffle was amazing. Just awesome. It's why I like Kevin Wilson. I would also compare this hire to HARBAUGH, if, y'know, Lovie Smith were actually going to be a good college coach.

AlNamiasIV: It's kind of impossible to answer given that Iowa has had only two coaches since I entered grade school. 2015 certainly rejuvenated me from apathy as an Iowa fan, but there was no big event there. It was a slow, steady process

Stew: Swift programming changing events?  The closest would be when Tressel and Paterno were fired.  Those were much higher profile, for obvious reasons, but those were pretty similar in how fast it completely changed the programs.

As for rejuvenating my apathy, when Lickliter was fired and Fran was hired, I was pretty apathetic for the program. Lickliter played an abhorrent style, and was also really, really bad at it.  I would DVR games and just skip through them, fastforwarding through large chunks at a time.  Fran's initial press conference was enough to give me hope, again.

andrewkraszewski: I kind of hate you for making me say it, but Harbaugh is the most recent and salient example. The toxic combo of Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon had really beaten the life out of a normally insufferable fanbase to such an extent that even I briefly entertained some notions of pity - and then instantly squashed those and resumed laughing. I'm sure G4-3 will bring up Urbz as well, but let's be honest, the winter of Buckeye discontent was, like, two days of temps in the 40s and then it was fucking summer again immediately. The other success stories - Dantonio, Kill, even Pat Fitzgerald - have all been more gradual.

Oh, but as for my own sports revival, Stan Van Gundy being hired as the Pistons coach/president is probably the best I can do for you. I loved the early-aught Pistons, but the gradual slide they endured was hard to watch, as was Joe Dumars' loss of whatever stroke of genius let him create those excellent teams. For an NBA team to engineer a turnaround without the excruciating deliberate bottom-out has been pleasant to see.

Graham Filler: Harbaughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I love the description, and I am paraphrasing, from a fullback, comparing Hoke to Harbaugh. The FB says, under Hoke, we were told, go block that guy. Under Harbaugh, we're explained how to block, the different angles and thoughts behind blocking, and then with all that knowledge under our belt, we go block in a more effective manner. That's a coaching coup.

GF3: I'll see Graham's Harbaugh and raise him an Urban Meyer. He's like Harbaugh, except he's not a loudmouth asshat, he doesn't sleep over with recruits, doesn't make up phony jobs for recruits moms....oh, and he wins national championships. So there's that.