Just when I thought the Illinois football season was over, we might see oranges and blues again in 2021.
This afternoon, the bad news was published by Texas A&M with a COVID-19 outbreak. The Aggies had such a bad outbreak that they decided to retire from the 2021 Gator Bowl, due to be played against Wake Forest on December 31st.
With Texas A&M pulling out, the Gator Bowl must find a replacement team. That seems to be a problem, however, but with students and coaches at home for the holidays, it’s difficult to find a team ready to play a bowl game in a week.
Illinois football might have a chance to play at the Gator Bowl.
With one team to take the place of Texas A&M, the next teams in line would be the 5-7 programs, which were hardly missed this year.
The replacement options are arranged in order of who had the best APR for the 2021 campaign. It looks like Rutgers was the first option and, according to Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, it passed.
Gator Bowl could have replaced Texas A&M with a 5-7 team based on APR, sources shared @ActionNetworkHQ. Rutgers had the first option but declined. Others are not expected to accept. “How many 5-7 teams have practiced or are still in school? None, ”said the source
– Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 22, 2021
Texas would be the next option and there is no news of them yet. Michael Martin, former Illinois long snapper, says the Pac-12 is on record that it won’t allow a 5-7 team in a bowl game.
* Non-PAC-12 teams. Cal is 5-7 and is 977 ahead of Illinois in APR. PAC-12 has announced that they will not allow 5-7 bowl teams in the past
– Michael Martin (@ MPMartin_56) December 22, 2021
So who would be next in line? Illinois.
However, it was kind of a pipe dream to think Illinois could play. I posted a GIF of Ron Burgundy using his clam pipe to assemble his anchorman crew with the headline “ILLINI …. ASSEMBLE!” While I wish it would happen, I didn’t think the Illinois had a chance to play at the Gator Bowl.
That was until the head of the program tweeted.
At 1:57 p.m. CT retweeted the quote from Illinois head coach Bret Bielema McMurphy, saying, “Wait on the phone …. #ILL #famILLy.” This tweet makes me think that this could actually happen. Illinois could be bowling this season, and it could be a New Year’s bowl game.
Wait on the phone…. #SICK #famILLy https://t.co/0xb9eoKU3U
– Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) December 22, 2021
I’m not very hopeful, but the chance that Illinois will be bowling now is much higher than it was a few hours ago. This is serious now.