Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

Illinois alumni association gets in on Northwestern rivalry

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            A couple of weeks ago, on May 17 to be exact, an e-mail went out to Illinois alumns from the university's alumni association.

            It read:

            "ILLINOIS: Chicago's Big Ten University; 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."

            And then the e-mail provides a link to download some Illinois-themed wallpaper.

            Taking a shot at Northwestern's marketing slogan -- Chicago's Big Ten Team --  was another hit at NU in the increasing rivalry between the two schools -- not to mention the athletic departments.

            New Illinois football coach Tim Beckman may have started this new phase of the rivalry when he said in his opening news conference that he'll never wear purple. Then he put a sign with the Wildcats' logo in the Illini locker room -- and adorned it with a red circle and a line through it.

            And NU football coach Pat Fitzgerald fired back when he referred to Illinois as "that school down in Champaign." (Fitzgerald has used that phrase before, though, in reference to a couple other Big Ten rivals. So it's technically nothing really new.)

            The e-mail from the UIAA is a new shot, however, and you have to wonder how far the two schools are going to take this rivalry.

            After the two played in the Wrigley game in 2010, Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson said the Illini were really Chicago's Big Ten team.

            And back in October when Illinois beat NU in Champaign in Dan Persa's first game back from the ruptured Achilies tendon, Illinois played "Sweet Home Chicago" over the P.A. system.

            The distaste between the two has been there for a very long time. Among students (non-athletes, too) there's always been a haves and a have-nots kind of mentality. It's not something that is going to go away anytime soon. Nor should it.

            NU marketing chief Mike Polisky and athletic director Jim Phillips (ironically, an Illinois grad) politely declined to comment.

            But you know they're probably thinking of what's going to come up I-57 next.

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This page contains a single entry by Tina Akouris published on May 30, 2012 4:11 PM.

Northwestern women's lacrosse wins again was the previous entry in this blog.

Northwestern's Taylor Thornton doesn't get Tewaaraton is the next entry in this blog.

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