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John Mackovic

John Mackovic

Illini football coach | 30-16-1 record, 1988-91

John Mackovic can’t say he wasn’t warned.

“When I first arrived in Champaign, several people told me to look out for Loren Tate. But I found Loren to be both fair and honest. He clearly was not a homer, but he did not denigrate the university or its teams, either.

“I always heard about how good a golfer he was and finally he invited me to join him at the Champaign Country Club for a round. I beat him.

“The best perk of being the football coach for the Illini was the reserved parking spot outside the offices since parking was impossible most of the time. All the players knew better than to take that spot — even for a five-minute meeting. When winter arrived, I cherished that spot every morning.

“The most fun I had while at Illinois was beating Ohio State every year and the weekly luncheons during football season. We laughed a lot and the fans who attended really looked forward to hearing about our team.

“Best hometown fans ever.”

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