Chief Illini Wreck

This is getting downright comical.  Since the moment Illini Athletic Director Mike Thomas took the “throne” in Champaign, the Illini’s Athletic Department marketing strategy has seemed hell bent on trying to put down Northwestern, yet with each new turn, all they seem to do is elevate our brand by coming across as reactionary. The latest move by the Illini is to stage an event in Evanston (at the World of Beer) on May 8 as part of their Illini Coaches Caravan (a marketing tactic NU has been using for more than a decade).

The move prompted Gram Browsher Bowsher, Northwestern’s Wildside president (the school’s student spirit club) to set-up a Facebook event to crash the party which you can see here. As of 6:30 am this morning nearly 180 have signed up to attend. The Illini are charging $25 to the event and Wildcat fans are ready to Nebraska road game these guys and I highly encourage you to purchase tickets.  Browsher Bowsher reminds fans this is an UNOFFICIAL grassroots effort and not affiliated by NU, but you know they have to be smiling reading this.  Browsher Bowsher has also encouraged fans to be “clever” but “clean”.  Polling is going on as to some clever ways to crash the party and the lead vote getter as of now is a poster of Illini head coach Tim Beckman tripping (and earning a penalty) during our 50-14 throttling of Champaign’s finest this past November.

You might remember that the Orange Krush, Illini’s student fan group, duped Northwestern earlier this year at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Students dressed in purple performed in one of the timeout competitions on the floor only to strip off the purple and reveal their orange shirts sending the 50/50 crowd in to a home court advantage for the Illini.  Considering every marketing move Mike Polisky’s team makes is seemingly responded to by the Illini, perhaps this is one worth copying back.  How cool would it be to see a packed World of Beer in orange suddenly turn in to a Northwestern pep rally as fans reveal their purple and start singing the fight song? I believe with your creativity and wallet, we can actually get the Illini to cancel this event.  If not, they could very well face a pretty embarassing situation.

This could be fun.  Perhaps we should rent one of those truck billboards and have the team photo of the Land of Lincoln trophy plastered with the 50-14 score and “LOL HERE” on it as the truck could just circle the World of Beer block (1601 Sherman Ave, Evanston).  The news of this overt marketing statement has already hit via Adam Rittenberg’s post here. Perhaps Adam was being so diplomatic because of his Northwestern roots, but make no mistake about this, the Illini have been the reactionary ones in this equation.  Let’s review:

  • Fitz refers to Illinois as the team downstate or that team down south for years
  • Northwestern creates the “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” marketing slogan
  • Northwestern creates first step in partnership with Cubs by hosting (and losing) a home game at Wrigley Field in 2010
  • Illini AD, Mike Thomas, claims the Illini will be the “kings of Chicago” in his opening presser in 2011
  • Tim Beckman, upon being hired, posts an anti-Northwestern sign outside of the lockerroom and forbids his staff to wear any purple. Ever.
  • Illinois creates the “Our State/Our Team” marketing slogan which is viewed by many as a response to NU.
  • Northwestern ends 2-year drought in series by thumping Illini 50-14 to finish the 2012 season regular season at 9-3.
  • Illinois creates an alumni committee to boost its Chicago presence.
  • Illinois schedules game in 2013 at Soldier Field vs Washington

Yesterday I referred to the Illini Athletic marketing department as “Project Knee Jerk” and now its time for Northwestern fans to reach out and thank them.  You can do so by gobbling up the Illini’s $25 tickets for the May 8 event and show your support for the Wildcats. Let’s have some fun with this.

B1G News & Notes

LTP Purple Pledge

Michael Buck gets today’s shout out for moving us to 70 NEW season tickets on our quest for 200 for 2013.  Buck now has, get this, NINE season tickets and as he proudly notes only three of them are NU alums. With a 7-game home slate headlined by Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse and a 10-win season as wind behind us, this should be THE year to convince friends, neighbors and relatives to hop on the bandwagon. Simply call 888-GO-Purple and ask for Mike Zoller and tell him LTP sent you. Then, email us at and we’ll give you your shout out!






  • Al

    Maybe we should show up wearing zebra shirts and start (accidentally, of course) getting in the way of orange-wearing people.

  • SD

    Even if you don’t want to go.. buy a ticket and get it in the hands of someone that will. Sponsor a member of the Wildside!!

  • Ron

    Not to be cynical or anything, but before people shell out $25, how big an event is this, and how does that translate into the number of insurgent attendees necessary to make a dent without being summarily rounded up and removed within 2 minutes?

    • Al

      If they kick us out they’d have to refund our money.

      • PDXCat


  • Sasser

    As an Illinois grad student alum, I have to say: Embarrass the hell out of those Illini! I would be there if I wasn’t in NYC. I wonder if they could remove me from the event, considering I DO have a diploma from there…

  • skepticat

    Meh. An empty reception would be sweeter than one packed with NU students/fans having shelled out money to support Illinois athletic department, imo.

    I also think you missed the bigger story from last week:

  • DT

    Uh, LTP.. In all due respect, let’s focus on Northwestern’s marketing efforts that leave plenty of room for improvement… Being the savvy gent you are, surprised to see you even acknowledged this knee jerk stuff out of Cham-Bana.. Moreover, I’d suggest you have your sleuths in high state of readiness in the event Beckman and his coaching staff set up shop on the parking lot of Mustard’s in an attempt to poach players.. Protect this house!! :-)

  • Chief Willie

    This is such a great id.ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  • kafuffle

    So you’re going to spend $25 to disrupt an Illinois event? It’s not even like going to an away game where your team is playing. If you do decide to come, all I can say is thanks for your support of Illini Athletics!

  • PurpleColbert

    Well for all the doubters…. It seems we won! NU bought out all the tickets – OR they cancelled the event…..

    • PDXCat

      Or Illini fans bought them all.

  • Mr. Eason

    The Wildside struggles to get 200 students to go to NU Hoops games @ Welsh-Ryan yet they think they can get 200 NU students to show up at World of Beer? Try again.

  • Catotonic Joe

    So first we talk about how petty the Illini have become about reacting to NU’s successes and now we want to out-petty them. Remember the old line about the danger of wrestling with a pig. You just get muddy and eventually realize the pig enjoys it. So let’s ramp up the mood and squeeze both school’s supporters into an all you can drink beer event. I thought our goal was to beat Ohio State, not become Ohio State.

  • cece

    click on the link in the first paragraph. scroll down to the Evanston event. click on that. then look up at the link in the browser window and see the last number in the thread. I’ve tried this three times, and in my browser window the number is 51. yes, 51.

    if the event is not cancelled, surround the place.

  • gofightwin

    There are some good arguments in this thread against trolling the Illinois event.

    Some people think its petty.

    There’s the $$ aspect… we’re straight up giving money to their athletic department…

    But the opportunity to embarrass them is too great. We just have to do it in a way that’s NU quality.

    Wear Illinois shirts in the beginning. Wait until the AD/coaches get on the mic and start talking, then we start trickling into the bathroom. In the bathroom switch and put your purple on. Trickle back out the bathroom and go straight to the bar. Don’t even look towards them. The ILL fans will be watching the coaches speak. People wearing purple converge at the bar and dont even acknowledge them. Just have a good time and drink beers at the bar. If enoughy people drop out over time, especially if we pace it a little, will be hilarious. The fans wont see it either because they will be looking forward. But the people on the stage will.

    After the speaking part of the event is over the bar area should be completely packed with purple.

    Now we’re buying all these drinks there is no way that we can get kicked out. And if there’s enough of us there it’ll be hilarious and worth it.

    Time to protect the house, nothing petty about this. They are trying to punk us a bit by scheduling this in Evanston.

    Remember this is all about marketing. That’s why they are doing this whole tour to begin with. Embarrassing them and getting free press about would be huge.

  • gofightwin

    Not that it’s all about press… that would just be icing on the cake.
    If well executed we have the opportunity to punk them real bad. We can the world it was a mistake to schedule this in Evanston. Their intention to provoke was intentional. I think everybody agrees with that. Let’s show them its a mistake to try and encroach on our turf.
    They are reactionary and aggressive with their marketing. But they are dumb.

    I think if we do the “bathroom shirt switch trickle to the bar” trick and we just completely ignore them and have a good time we can’t be beat.

  • HappyNUyear

    This is what I’ve found regarding the Pumpkin Heads Invasion Event from their website.

    Event Closed

    Due to overwhelming demand for the Evanston Caravan stop on Wednesday, May 8, please contact the Chicago Athletic Development Office at 312.575.7850 regarding ticket availability.




  • Illini Pride

    Remember when Orange Krush dominated your “arena”. More of a high school gym…

  • ChicagoIllini

    “…the Illini’s Athletic Department marketing strategy has seemed hell bent on trying to put down Northwestern.”

    Now, THAT is downright comical! NU has been the ones who are waging war on the Illini. We are just responding and making sure their false marketing campaigns are made known to the public as what they are: false. Have fun at your half empty high school gym next season while we are undergoing millions of dollars in renovations. Go Mildcats!