The Illini scheduled a home series against Bradley on February 20-21 in a mini-protest over the southern baseball powers forcing the season to start a week earlier this season.
IllinoisBaseballReport got in contact with the AD to find out this gem:
In contacting the sports information director of the baseball team, I’ve gotten a little background on the scheduling difference. Apparently, this comes about because the southern schools banded together and convinced the NCAA to add a week to the front of the college baseball schedule. Obviously, there wasn’t a whole lot of support from the northern schools… University of Michigan coach Rich Maloney was a big (and outspoken) opponent.
The average temperatures in Champaign during February is a high of 38 and low of 21. If you follow the link to IBR, they're interested in ideas for promotions as they expect attendance to be dismal in that kind of weather. Drop a comment over there if you've got any clever ideas.
I personally love that they are doing a protest of sorts. A majority of programs exist in the cold, northern states, but the south has been flexing muscles to stay in power with little opposition.
The north finally got a standard start date last season. Before that, teams in the south, particularly southern California would start having games as early as mid January while teams from the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast all started around spring break in late February to early March. The latter group always started on the road in the deep south or the southwest.
The mandatory start date put pressure on the southern powers to schedule more like the northern teams, and they couldn't hack it. They plead academics to get an extra week added to the season, but instead of adding it at the end of the season to keep a fair starting date for northern teams, they choose to add it to the front to force more northern teams to come south.
Obviously this is a load of crap. Luckily, as mentioned by IBR, we have one of the most outspoken coaches on the issue, and I'm sure Coach Maloney will continue to be one of the top voices for the mid-majors.
Michigan will start it's season at Texas Tech this year, and will make trips to North Carolina (UNC and Coastal Carolina, both southern powers). I went over the schedule shortly after its release in September for those interested.