Butkus chose to attend the University of Illinois and played center and linebacker from 1962 through 1964 for the Illinois Fighting Illini football team. In his first year on the varsity team, he was named to the 1962 All-Big Ten Conference football team as the third-team center by the Associated Press (AP) and second-team center by United Press International (UPI). In 1963, Illinois compiled an 8–1–1 record and defeated Washington in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Butkus was named the team’s most valuable player for the season and was awarded the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten’s most valuable player. He was a unanimous choice as a center for the 1963 College Football All-America Team, earning first-team honors from all seven major selectors.
As a senior in 1964, Butkus was named the team’s co-captain along with safety George Donnelly. UPI deemed Butkus college football’s Lineman of the Year for 1964, and he was named the player of the year by the American Football Coaches Association and The Sporting News. For the second consecutive season, he was deemed the Illini’s most valuable player. He was chosen for the 1964 All-America team by five of the six major selectors. In a cover story for Sports Illustrated that season, sportswriter Dan Jenkins remarked, “If every college football team had a linebacker like Dick Butkus of Illinois, all fullbacks soon would be three feet tall and sing soprano.” Butkus also finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1963 and third in 1964, rare results both for a lineman and a defensive player. According to statistics kept by the university, he completed his college career with 374 tackles: 97 in 1962, 145 in 1963, and 132 in 1964.
Williams was recruited to play college basketball at the University of Illinois for the 2002–03 NCAA season by Bill Self. In his freshman year, he started 30 of 32 games and ranked third in the Big Ten Conference in assists with 4.53 per game.
Bruce Weber assumed the head coach position for the Illini in April 2003 and helped develop Williams throughout his remaining collegiate career. As a sophomore, Williams improved his scoring average from 6.3 to 14.0 points per game and improved his assists per game from the prior year to 6.17. Williams was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media.
In 2005, as a junior starting point guard, Williams led the Fighting Illini to the NCAA championship game where they lost to the University of North Carolina. That season saw the Illini go undefeated until the final game of the regular season when they lost to Ohio State by one point. Illinois’s road to the Final Four was marked by a comeback win over the Arizona Wildcats, where the Illini, led by Williams, came back from fifteen points down in the final minutes to win the game. Williams made the game-tying three-point shot with just 38.5 seconds left in regulation. He then hit the go-ahead three-pointer in overtime, and the Illini never looked back in that game.
Williams received many awards after the 2004–05 season. Those honors include being named a consensus Second Team All American, as well as being named First Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Tournament Team, and All-Final Four team and at the conclusion of the academic year, Williams was named as the University of Illinois Athlete of the Year. Williams was also a finalist for the Wooden Award and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Chicago Regional in the NCAA Tournament. Williams was named First-Team All-Big Ten as a sophomore in 2004 and as a junior in 2005, the year in which Williams, called by coach Bruce Weber “the MVP of the team”, led the Illini to the Final Four. The team included four other future NBA players, including Dee Brown, Roger Powell, James Augustine, and Luther Head.
Williams declared for the NBA draft after the 2005 season, forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility.
Oskee Wow-Wow is the official fight song of the University of Illinois. Most commonly, it is played “from the hold” at the start of the chorus, when the “O” in “Oskee Wow-Wow” is held out. This version is played after first downs and touchdowns in football, and leading into time outs in basketball. Coincidentally, the buzzers at nearly every arena are in the same chord as the hold.
For many years, the band started playing the song “from the top” toward the end of the warmup period in basketball. When conducted correctly, the “hold” is played just as the buzzer sounds.
College Sports Established
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1907 – 1921 / Athletic Association of the United States
1896 – Present / Big 10
Fighting Illini – The University of Illinois official team nickname is the Fighting Illini. The earliest reference of Illini appears to be mentioned in January 1874, when the campus weekly newspaper changed its name from The Student to The Illini. An editorial in the first edition of the renamed newspaper indicated that Illini was a new term. During the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, it was used to refer to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University, as well as to the campus as a whole.
The term Illini referring to the universities athletic teams seems to come from secondhand accounts of the athletic teams. The earliest reference in the Illio yearbook appears to be one mention in the summary of the 1907 football season. The term was more widely used in the 1910s especially during the 1914, 1915, and 1916 football seasons. The Daily Illini and football programs prior to these dates do not extensively cite the term and also used the terms “Indians,” “our men,” “Orange and Blue,” and the “homecomers.”
The term Fighting Illini first appeared in a January 29, 1911 newspaper article describing the basketball team’s effort during a game versus Purdue. By March 3, 1911, the athletic teams appeared to have earned the Fighting Illini nickname as a formal appellation evidenced in a newspaper report. In 2005, evidence suggested Fighting Illini was first used in 1921 as part of a fundraising campaign for construction of Memorial Stadium, but articles discovered in 2013 show it was first used in 1911. The Fighting Illini nickname was adopted by general consensus as an unofficial school nickname sometime between 1921–1930. It was then used in newspaper articles, football programs and other publications eventually becoming the official nickname.
Men’s Basketball 2
Women’s Basketball 0
1951, 1927, 1923, 1919, 1914