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B1G 2016 // Illinois Potluck Part 2: Our Corn Is Butter Than Yours

The state of Illinois: you're either in Chicago or near a cornfield.

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The Urbana Sweetcorn Festival is held every year in late August and is a staple of Chambanaland life. As Champaign and Urbana represent an oasis in a desert of corn, it doesn't get any more East Central Illinois than the Sweetcorn Festival and its signature Buttered Sweet Corn.


Another defining characteristic of East Central Illinois is the wind in Memorial Stadium, which is usually gusting to 25mph and swirling in a northerly direction across the field. It is one of the things you can always count on to be there. I've always wanted the team to take advantage of that, incorporate it into their strategy and know how to track a kick in that wind. With Lovie Smith hiring Bob Ligasheky as special teams coach, it seems like I may finally be getting my wish. At the very least I should hope that with Lovie's track record of excellent special teams, I won't be dreading every punt return like I did in the Ron Zook era. Does your stadium have any unique characteristics your team should take advantage of? Do you love or hate your special teams, and how much emphasis should be placed on them in practice?

MNW: Deafening silence. In 1985, as 604 fans watched with bated breath and dog-eared books, Michigan State QB Bob McNeil pulled out a sword and committed seppuku, driven mad by the eerie hum of nothing as lights flickered and pages turned. After that, the Big Ten informed Northwestern they could no longer hold football games in the basement of Tech Library. The ambiance, thankfully, has been replicated at Ryan Field. It is said that, on a cold fall Saturday, if you listen closely, you can still hear Joel Stave's yips ringing throughout the empty bleachers.

YIP! Yip! Yip...yip...

AlNamiasIV: The best Iowa teams have always had great special teams. In order for a team like Iowa (or Illinois) to win, it has to win in the margins, so yes, a great deal of emphasis has to put on special teams.

It doesn't have much to do with special teams, but in Kinnick Stadium, the stands are right on top of the goal lines. I wish they would move the student section right behind the visiting team's bench a la the Swamp. But heaven forbid a donor doesn't get his choice seat.

Stew:  At Kinnick the sidelines are super narrow, with the fans basically on top of both teams.  Al is right that since they moved the student section to the corner of an endzone, the stadium just isn't quite as loud.  Still, though, the opposing team really can hear individual heckling on their bench.

As for special teams, I don't think it's quite the ⅓ of the game that some coaches claim.  However, having either excellent or awful special teams can really swing a couple games a year.  For a long time Iowa had great special teams.  Then it flipped, and special teams were pretty awful, horrible punt coverage and a refusal to return punts.  Seems like the last year, or two, Ferentz has started to right the ship again, though.

andrewkraszewski: O...oasis, huh? That's. Certainly a word. But to answer the question, no, Spartan Stadium is pretty unremarkable in construction and weather features. If there's any consistent thing teams must account for, it's a well-kept secret. Special teams for MSU were pretty awful for most of last year. One week the punting would suck, then Geiger would miss a makeable kick, then the coverage units would give up 20 yards per return, and the punt return was nonexistent through the whole season. Maybe that's a result of a first-year special teams coach in Mark Snyder, but it was a glaring and unresolved season-long weakness last year. So, uh, yeah, let's do better than that if possible.

GF3: Unique? Well it's the only true horseshoe stadium in college football. I don't think you can take advantage of that, per se. But it's a lot louder than the funeral parlor they call "the Big House." It also has the peerless OSU Marching Band, which is easily the best band in the country and therefore also in the B1G. That's unique...unless they come visit your stadium. But no, there's no real schematic advantage (sorry, Charlie Weis). Also, wind isn't unique. Everywhere in the B1G west of Rutgers is windy. As for our special teams...I loathe them. Jalin Marshall, the Fumbler's Fumbler, couldn't leave soon enough.