“I think it’s a reflection of two things,” he said. “I work with great people, day in and day out, and then I work at a place that’s sort of like the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think that traditionally our administration gets it and they understand there’s going to be highs and lows.”
Coaching tree: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Jim Tressel never overruled him while he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, and it’s important to him to give the same freedom to his coaches with the Spartans.
The way Tressel treated his assistants is something that sticks with Dantonio to this day.
“I try to do a lot of things like Tress in terms of how you treat people and things of that nature,” Dantonio said. “Again, I go back, you know what are my goals for our assistant coaches? It’s those relationships. It’s launching a career. Their graduation is when we go (to) a BCS game or a Rose Bowl or January 1 game or a championship game. That’s their graduation, and then I help them launch their career.”
Season-ending slide: Illinois lost its last nine games last year, including a 50-14 loss at Northwestern to conclude the dismal 2-10 season.
For quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, it was quite the learning experience.
“Going through last year, you learned a lot,” he said, “not only about yourself on the field, but you learned about yourself just as from a character standpoint, from a leadership standpoint. I think leadership is really easy when things are going well and everything’s good, but you don’t truly know yourself until you deal with some struggles and some hard stuff.”
Scheelhaase threw for 1,361 yards and four touchdowns last season with eight interceptions. He also rushed for 303 yards and four more TDs. He ranks fifth on the school’s career list with 7.091 yards of total offense and is sixth with 5,296 yards passing.