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Paul Meh-trino

December 17, 2009

The Fighting Illini hired Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino to the same position.

To this I say “meh.”

They certainly could have done worse (aka Mike Schultz) but Petrino is no lock to turn the program around.

The interesting thing about this hire is the money that Petrino will be making. With a $475,000 yearly salary, Petrino will be collecting more cash than the offensive coordinators of Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Minnesota.

Seems like a lot for a fairly unproven commodity (it’s rumored that uber-douche brother Bobby Petrino did most of the play-calling for the Razorbacks), but the juice is well worth the squeeze if handled correctly.

Here’s the thing: Ron Zook is NOT a football coach. He is the best used car salesman that doesn’t sell cars. To borrow a line from “Tommy Boy”, he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves. But a playbook genius he is not.

This is something Ron Guenther and Illini fans have failed to recognize. Zook is a figure head that brings in the talent. He can compete with Ohio State and Michigan for recruits when Illinois should be on par with the University of Ohio and Eastern Michigan. He brings home the bacon.

Unfortunately the AD has surrounded him with the wrong football minds/coordinators to properly utilize Zook’s recruits.

Mike Schultz is the most recent example. He was a ball-control, no-turnover coordinator coaching high-risk, high-reward players. Schultz seemed to figure it out the last few games of the season, but his philosophy never fit the type of players that the Zooker brings to Champagin.

Petrino said he will “feed the studs” at Illinois. Maybe this was a last-ditch effort to lure Rejus Benn back to campus for his senior season, but this is the style of ball this team needs. Zook brings in the big recruits and they need to be touching the ball as much as possible.

So what does this mean for next year? Obviously the corpse of the 2009 Illini has barely had time to be laid to rest, but here are my 2010 Offensive Illini predictions with PP at the helm…

-Mikel LeShoure will be the focus. Running back by committee is dead. Hazah.
-Eddie McGee will get every chance to prove he should be the starter at QB next season. He has much more potential than Jacob Charest, but Petrino’s offense seems to be more focus around pocket-passing QBs. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McGee under center to start.
-You didn’t hear this name much last season, but expect soon-to-be sophomore RB Justin Green to get more touches. This dude is fast as balls. Despite his small size, he is a big=play guy that can bust a 60+ yard TD at any time. He should jump ahead of my boy Jason Ford on the depth chart.
-TE Hubie Graham will need to become a receiving threat. With Uh-Oh moving onto the NFL and recruit C.J. Fiedorosopiewqpoiq switching his commitment to Iowa, Hubie will be the lone threat down the middle. Much like Bears TE Greg Olsen, Hubie is too big to be covered by safeties and too fast to be matched up with LBs. Saucy.

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