CHAMPAIGN — Of system, Bret Bielema needs the IHSA football point out championship games to be played at Memorial Stadium. As usually as doable.
From the instant he arrived on the University of Illinois campus in December 2020, Bielema has manufactured a clear dedication to large college soccer in the point out.
“It’s absolutely essential,” the next-calendar year Illinois football coach mentioned just after Tuesday morning’s spring follow.
Heck, he was a component of it again in the working day at Prophetstown Superior in the late 1980s.
In a minimal a lot less than 8 months, on Nov. 25-26, the Home of Pink Grange hosts 8 condition title games for the initially time because 2018.
Immediately after that? We’re into a gray region.
Previously this thirty day period, the IHSA announced bidding for the point out championship games from 2023-27. The organization’s preference is for a person internet site to host all 5 decades.
That is a dilemma for Illinois in 2023, when it is scheduled to host Large 10 rival Northwestern on Nov. 25.
The making will be obtainable in 2024, with the Illini at Northwestern that weekend. But the Wildcats return to Memorial Stadium on Nov. 29, 2025.
The Big 10 has not introduced schedules beyond the 2025 year, but it is likely Illinois will carry on an end-of-the-period rotation with Northwestern, with the two in-condition teams meeting in the standard-time finale (the pandemic-afflicted 2020 schedule notwithstanding) each 12 months considering the fact that 2012.
That signifies Memorial Stadium will be open up for state title online games in 2026 but not in 2027.
“We’ve bought to work in the parameters that we have,” Bielema mentioned. “I can’t management the actuality that our very last recreation has always been versus Northwestern. Since of that, to participate in that Saturday following Thanksgiving specifically conflicts what they want to get accomplished.
“We’re heading to normally search at distinctive alternatives of what we can do.”
Lifelong fanBielema just spoke at the Illinois Significant Faculty Football Coaches clinic, which was in C-U last Thursday by means of Saturday.
Soon prior to Bielema’s transform at the microphone, the IHSA logo was flashed on the display.
“That usually means every little thing to me,” he claimed. “It’s aspect of the purpose this job was so eye-catching prior to it even arrived open up was to be again in my household point out and advertise it.
“I played football in this condition. I wrestled in this condition. I ran observe in this point out.”
Illinois has included recognition of the state’s large faculty football scene in just the walls of Memorial Stadium, with a exhibit situation honoring the most modern champions.
Numerous of these suggestions came from personnel member Pat Ryan, a retired Corridor of Fame coach at Metamora.
“Coach Ryan provides points to my eyesight every day that I would have hardly ever witnessed or never would have genuinely considered of,” Bielema mentioned.
Players’ choiceThe present Illinois roster contains 40 players who came from the state’s high faculties. With 7 extra on the way when the full class of 2022 arrives in the summer.
Small argument exists about the place they believe the condition title game titles should really be performed: 1402 S. Initial in Champaign.
“It need to normally be in this article,” claimed Kendall Smith, a sixth-year senior defensive back from Bolingbrook. “I do not know why we go anyplace else”
“That was a prepare to just check out to get below,” offensive lineman and Belleville Althoff graduate Jordyn Slaughter claimed. “I assume it should be listed here in Champaign.”
But there are strong reasons to take into consideration DeKalb as the up coming host. In particular if the five-12 months prepare is a must.
Northern Illinois has a extra versatile college football timetable, and the MAC has not established the convention slates over and above 2022. And when it does, it can have Northern Illinois perform on Tuesday the week of the IHSA state championships.
If the IHSA is determined to adhere with just one host, Northern Illinois’ Huskie Stadium is perhaps the only feasible option. Hancock Stadium at Illinois Condition University in Typical, O’Brien Stadium at Jap Illinois University in Charleston, Hanson Discipline at Western Illinois University in Macomb and Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois College in Carbondale are other likely possibilities.
But the just one merchandise that may hinder people programs is if any of those 4 FCS educational institutions make the playoffs and are great enough to host a to start with-spherical playoff game.
DeKalb is a far more convenient locale for Chicagoland finalists, which provided much more than half the 2021 discipline.
The individuals in DeKalb have accomplished an admirable occupation producing the teams and the two-day occasion experience specific. It also appears to be greater on Television set, with the 23,500-seat creating a better dimensions for the crowds than 60,670-seat Memorial Stadium.
When the Large 10 pushed its soccer schedules further than Thanksgiving Day, it developed a problem for Illinois. Except the common period is lowered by a video game (doubt it), there isn’t an effortless resolution.