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The Illini Toss A Wild Champaign Party
Steve Wulf
November 07, 1983
Like something out of a dream, a tidal wave of orange and blue came sweeping over Zuppke Field in Champaign, Ill. Saturday afternoon. It toppled two sets of metal goalposts as if they were built of pickup sticks, and its force will probably prove great enough to carry thousands upon thousands of people from the prairies all the way to Pasadena.
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November 07, 1983

The Illini Toss A Wild Champaign Party

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The other anchor up front for the Illini defense was Tackle Mark Butkus, whose Uncle Dick was a linebacker on the last Illinois Rose Bowl team before his nine-year stint with the Chicago Bears. Young Butkus, who's as tough as you'd expect, limped through the afternoon with cartilage damage in his left knee.

The Illini put the game away with a last-minute safety: Cooper inexplicably tried to run a Chris Sigourney punt out of the Michigan end zone and was tackled there by Joe Miles.

Illinois has come a long way in the four years since White, 47, was hired to replace Gary Moeller, then a former Schembechler assistant who has since rejoined the Michigan staff. White inherited a team that had had but one winning season in 14 years; still, he made enemies at Illinois and elsewhere in the conference when, in his first three years, he imported more than 30 junior college transfers, mostly from California, to fortify the team. That simply wasn't done in the provincial and, supposedly, highly principled Big Ten. White is still not the most popular man in the conference. For one thing, Illinois has been undergoing an NCAA preliminary inquiry stemming from a three-day visit to the school by two J.C. transfers in January 1982. For another, the Illini have developed a reputation for, shall we say, dirty play. The 6'4", 250-pound Thorp, one of the accused, says, "Well, I may have gnawed on someone's ankle, but no, no, nothing dirty." Maybe not, but Illinois has become known as the "Biting Illini."

Last Friday, while White addressed an overflow Quarterback Club luncheon at the Rec-Arena in nearby Savoy, a man done up to resemble Schembechler—he had on Michigan sweats and BO was printed on his right cheek—interrupted him. "I just want to say we're pretty nice people in Michigan," said the ersatz Bo, actually a local banker named Jim Fink. "We love our mothers, we love our dogs, and, in fact, we've even developed a fondness for J.C. transfers." White plopped a cream pie on " Schembechler's" head.

On Saturday, Michigan figuratively got a pie in its collective face. In nearby Urbana, the Rose Bowl Package House & Tavern was humming late into the night. The Rose Bowl was so named in 1946, just before the Illini, led by Buddy Young, went to Pasadena and beat UCLA 45-14. The Drifting Playboys were holding sway, and Sonny Norman, lead singer and proprietor of the bar, had to turn people away. Into Sunday morning the patrons chanted, " Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl...."

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