- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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— Arturo Gonzalez III (@armyag3) August 7, 2013
You have probably heard me speak of perception and how powerful it is in the minds of recruits. For example, the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) may be a BCS AQ conference, but premier recruits don’t perceive it that way, so they don’t pay it much attention. Everybody always talks about relevance with Notre Dame. The reality is, the only thing that matters is whether today’s top prospects perceive a team to be relevant.
This is very much the case with Illinois, in my opinion. The Illini have lost the perception of being a competitor, particularly in their own state. Right now, the rest of the Big Ten -- and even teams in the SEC, like Ole Miss -- have a much better chance of landing top Illinois prospects than the in-state school. I think there is a high likelihood Illinois will miss out on the four or five best players in the state this year, and it's a strong year for local prospects. From their facilities to their place in the pecking order of Midwest recruiting, Illinois has a difficult path. The resurgence of Wisconsin, Michigan State and even Penn State has made the environment more competitive. It doesn’t help that the current state of the Big Ten as a whole is not perceived to be strong.
And finally, winning cures a lot of woes, and the wins just haven’t come.