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The Linking Illini Is Enjoying Awards Season

Fancy dresses, tuxedos, Joan Rivers, you’ve got to love awards season. Last night’s Golden Globes and Oscar night are the only two days of the year where my wife spends more time on Twitter and other social media than I do. Incidentally, its probably the only time I will experience something akin to what my wife goes through when I make her watch a football game. But all of that is beside the point, while Hollywood was busy patting itself on the back for another job well done, the college sports world was handing out its own honors, among which Illinois was featured. Hooray! On with the Links!Illini back in the Rankings, NCAA College Basketball Rankings – CBSSports.comYes the Illini have earned their way back into the national conversation by taking down the No. 5 team in America, and managing to hold on to those close wins the week before. Illinois is ranked 22 in the AP and 25 in the coaches, which is pretty good for getting very few votes the week before. And there is probably plenty of room to move up. OSU still remains in the top ten at 6 after beating down IU, and with MSU and UM, the Big Ten now has five ranked teams. Not too shabby.FIGHTINGILLINI.COM – Paul Named Big Ten Player of the WeekSurprise! Brandon Paul’s game of the ages has earned him the honor of Big Ten Basketball’s Basketball Player of the Week, for skill at basketball. There is very little more than can be said about the amazingness of his one man scoring spectacular, but I can say this: watching a replay for the third time last night at a bar, with old grizzled Illini fans was still nearly as thrilling as seeing it the first time.Cincinnati’s Tim Banks hired as DC | IlliniHQ.comWhile its not an award or a ranking, it is an honor to coach at the old U of I right? Yes, we finally have a completed coaching staff as Beckman was able to convince Tim Banks of Cincinnati to head west to beautiful Champaign. Cincy’s been pretty good at defense recently, and he is another recruiting tie to the state of Ohio. Its not Coach Vic, and its not Tenuta either, but in the end we did at least get a quality coach with a solid resume to take over a unit that is still stuffed with talent. Even better, we didn’t end up with any PSU cast offs. Didn’t really want any of those guys, thanks very much.All of that and this nugget as well, if MSU loses tomorrow night in Ann Arbor, Illinois will be, at least for one entire day, alone at the top of the Big Ten. This just didn’t seem possible a week ago. It could all go away should Illinois lose to a scrappy but not great Penn State team on Thursday of course, but I am determined to enjoy this as much as possible.

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