I received a mass email today from the Illinois Alumni Association.
The subject heading: ILLINOIS: Chicago’s Big Ten University
The message content:
Illinois alumni don’t need an expensive roadside billboard to let people know we’re the best public Big Ten university in Chicago!
Instead, make your case in your office space by displaying your loyalty for everyone to see. As we welcome 7,000 new graduates to the alumni family, we know that, together, we can uphold the greatness of our Alma Mater.
By using the word “public,” the UIAA differentiated themselves from the private institution of NU. This is a way of “backing off a bit” or “hedging” what they said with this message. However, the intent is clear, and it makes one immediately flashback to last October on the college football gridiron.
When Illinois beat Northwestern 38-35 to move to 5-0 (they went 2-6 the rest of the season) Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase scored a 1-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left to lead then #22 Illinois to a comeback win. He threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns with three TD passes went to A.J. Jenkins, who had 12 catches for a school-record 268 yards. The previous school receiving yards record was also set versus Northwestern in 1984. (David Williams 204).
In order to poke more fun at Northwestern’s “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” mantra, the Memorial Stadium audio played this set list after the game: “Sweet Home Chicago” (Blues Brothers), Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago, Chicago” and Kanye West’s “Homecoming” (three songs about the Windy City) as the scoreboard read “the state of Illinois’ undefeated team.”
Scheelhaase talked about the territorial rivalry by both schools to claim the second city.
“I’ll be honest with you, it came up during the week. Especially after last year, with what went on with that game and it being in Chicago,” Scheelhaase said referring to both the 2011 meeting and the 2010 meeting at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. He then talked about the NU billboards:
“I’ve been to Chicago a few times and I haven’t seen any of them, but Miles told me he passes ‘em all the time, so maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.”
“But for them saying they’re Chicago’s team, we definitely walked in with a chip on our shoulder, we feel like we’re a pretty established team in the state, I don’t know what all of this is all about, I just know we wanted to establish ourselves as the state champion this year. We can’t control what happened in the past or what’s going to happen in the future, but for this year we’re the champs of the state of Illinois- for all cities,” he continued.
With the marketing battle over Chicago, this rivalry got spicier. With the UIAA move today, they just added more jalapeno to that concoction.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.
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