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Add wardrobe to Illinois football program’s problems

Illinois' football uniforms ranked last Big Ten poll medicovering conference. | AP

Illinois' football uniforms ranked last in the Big Ten in a poll of media covering the conference. | AP

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Updated: July 5, 2013 7:36PM

The good news is, this particular Big Ten football ranking was merely about uniforms. The bad news is, once again, Illinois came in last.

A Big Ten Network poll of media who cover the conference determined Michigan is the league’s best-dressed team (click here for poll). Next in line were Ohio State and Penn State. None of that is very surprising, is it?

Perhaps less expected was the Illini suffering the abject sartorial shame of being ranked 12th. As though a 2-10 record last season wasn’t bad enough. Now Tim Beckman and Co. must come to grips with hard evidence that their color combos are downright unsightly.

Maize and blue, heck yes.

Orange and blue, goodness no.

Frankly, everything about the 2012 Illini was unsightly, and those whose business it is to forecast the upcoming college football season clearly believe more of the same is in store.

Talk about bad news.

Athlon, Lindy’s and Phil Steele all peg Illinois as the worst team in the Big Ten. The three leading preseason publications rank the Illini 86th, 87th and 85th, respectively, out of the Football Bowl Subdivision’s 125 teams.

“Year 2 of the Beckman era will be a struggle,” according to Athlon’s preview.

The Sporting News yearbook doesn’t include a 1-125 ranking, but it offers a cryptic message to Illini fans: “Another trip to the Leaders Division dungeon is likely.”

Worst yet comes from USA Today (click here for poll), which installed Beckman’s team at No. 110, behind such juggernauts as Tulane (109), Army (106) and the Big Ten’s next-lowest-ranked squad, Purdue (89).

“Bruised and battered Illinois lacks confidence,” USA Today wrote, “[and] an offense, a defense and an identity.”

Given their current reputation, the Illini might prefer to be identified a lot less often.

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