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posted: 4/19/2013 5:29 AM

College hoops outlook brighter for state

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  • Northwestern University Athletic Director Jim Phillips, left, is confident that Chris Collins can take the men's basketball program to a higher level. DePaul and Illinois also are making significant changes to their programs.

      Northwestern University Athletic Director Jim Phillips, left, is confident that Chris Collins can take the men's basketball program to a higher level. DePaul and Illinois also are making significant changes to their programs.
    Associated Press

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Insider

Well, well, well, there is finally plenty of news coming out of the college sports programs in the state of Illinois.

First came the Northwestern hiring of Chris Collins as the men's basketball coach of the Wildcats -- a great hire that generated some good publicity and excitement in Evanston.

A week later, DePaul University was featured in a column about a new site in Lincoln Park being considered for its men's basketball program, followed by the expected hire of Rod Strickland, the former great Blue Demons guard, as an assistant coach. It also has been reported that Mark Aguirre, my favorite college player this side of Pete Maravich, is being considered as a possible candidate for a job in the Blue Demon program.

Last, but not least, the University of Illinois is getting a boost to their recruiting and brand with the addition of WSCR 670-AM as the radio home for the Fighting Illini basketball in 2013, and football in 2014. That's a definite coup for their sports program because it puts them in the forefront as they go after major college dollars and area recruits for football, basketball and their other sports.

The Illini are leaving WIND 560-AM for a better fit, and it matches up well against Northwestern's package at WGN 720-AM. It also puts a dent into Northwestern's "Chicago's Big Ten team" campaign. Take it from me, when you're on the Score, it's not a bad thing.

Suddenly, there is good activity from the big three, Northwestern, Illinois and De Paul. Sadly, it has been an underwhelming decade for the college basketball landscape in Illinois, and it's good to see these programs stepping up.

The horizon is starting to look bright. Stay tuned.

White Sox game:

I have selected the three people who will be going to White Sox game with me. Sometimes you wonder if you are doing a good job, so I'm very appreciative of the many emails from readers sharing their reasons to attend the game with me. Thank you for all the kind words and many mentions, of not only myself, but also my old partner, Dan Jiggetts. We will announce the winners in Tuesday's column. Love you all.

A salute:

One of the truly legendary sports announcers over the last 50 years, Pat Summerall, is gone at 82.

Along with John Madden, he formed an extremely successful team. For the old-school folks, Summerall was once paired with Tom Brookshier and they were an iconic duo as well. As they called a touchdown during a game, they would slip in details of their escapades the night before. Classic!

Program note:

Watch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

• North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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