Illini Wonk
Sunday, January 09, 2005
  The media rock stars
What a year to start blogging about the Illinois basketball team! Their undefeated, 16-0 start to the season has brought an increased amount of media attention to the boys from Champaign. The prolific Mark Tupper wrote today in the Decatur Herald & Tribune about the Illini becoming a Big Ten roadshow. In the article he had this to say:

More Illini fans are turning out, and so are more Illini media. Purdue's sports information folks had to decline requests including one from a country-western radio station that apparently just wanted a good seat. Some of our local TV people were relegated to the basement media work room because there were not enough seats on "press row."

Newspapers that once sent one writer are now sending a writer, columnist and photographer. Interest in this team is rising, with beat writers from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune being told to crank out more copy. The Bad News Bears didn't give the city a playoff team to follow. The Bulls, though improving, are still a painful work in progress. And the Blackhawks have simply decided to take the winter off.

That leaves Illinois as the best sports story in the vicinity.

A little earlier in the season, Jay Mariotti (of ESPN's ''Around the Horn'' fame) wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, here:

MTV is on Line 1, ignoring Lindsay Lohan for a day so it can profile Dee Brown. ESPN is on Line 2, hoping to feature the team in an episode of "The Life.'' A New York radio station is on Line 3, Dickie V. is on Line 4 (though no one wants to talk to him because of his alleged pro-ACC bias) and a producer is on Line 5, wondering what Bruce Weber will be cooking next time.

Unfortunately, that makes it highly unlikely that Illini Wonk will get a press pass to attend an Illini game this year. It also explains why there has been so much coverage to sift through.

By the end of the season, Illini sports information director Kent Brown and his staff probably deserve raises.
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