Counting down the Salukis

By Gus Bode

Ever find yourself wondering about the 100 most awesomely bad songs?

Well, surely you’re curious who’s responsible for the 100 most metal moments in music history, right? If so, you may need help.

But in case you’ve got nothing better to do, check out VH-1 on any given day and you’ll find countdowns for each category – that is if you consider the above as legitimate categories of music.


With lists for almost anything you can think of in today’s peculiar age of pop culture, the phrase 10, 9, 8 … is no longer reserved for space shuttle blast-offs or the annual Jan. 1 countdown of the year’s best music.

Added to the popular magazine lists such as People’s 50 most beautiful people is a flood of TV countdowns intended both to fill time and viewers’ minds with all the pointless fluff they can handle.

Comedy Central has jumped on board, recently introducing its list of the top 100 stand-up comedians. ESPN has also joined in the phenomenon, airing a recent show chronicling the top 25 biggest flops in sports history – Ryan Leaf was No. 1, by the way – to go along with its top 10 plays nightly on SportsCenter.

With a new show titled “The Sports List,” Fox Sports Network is continuing the trend of countdowns transcending into the sports world. The program will compile top 10 lists ranging from the most shocking upsets to the most intimidating pitchers.

With seemingly every media outlet jumping on the countdown bandwagon, I figured why not devote this column space to the Daily Egyptian’s very own Saluki-stlyle countdown.

All of the following categories and top-five lists were compiled with the help of past and present Daily Egyptian sportswriters with an emphasis on events and athletes from the 21st century.

The lists are open to debate, as any or all countdowns, but here goes nothing.


Most shocking Saluki moments:No. 5:The SIU women’s basketball team upset Evansville 65-62 in front of the Fox Sports Midwest cameras last season at the SIU Arena. A season-high 1,030 witnessed the Salukis play their most complete game of the season.

No. 4:After being selected to finish sixth in the conference, the SIU volleyball team finished its best season ever in 2002 by advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference championship game versus Northern Iowa as the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

No. 3:Also predicted to finish sixth in the conference, the Saluki football team surprised everyone by sharing the Gateway title in 2003 and advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 1983.

No. 2:As perhaps the primary indication of things to come, the SIU football team upset Western Illinois 54-52 on Homecoming in 2002. The last-second victory was the first for the Salukis against Western in 18 years. SIU has now won two in a row against the Leathernecks.

No. 1:The SIU men’s basketball team steals a victory from Bob Knight and Texas Tech before coming back from 19 down against Georgia to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in 2002.

Most Forgettable Saluki moments:No. 5:The SIU baseball team had a game called in a 7-7 tie due to darkness last season versus Bradley. The Salukis’ Abe Martin Field is just one of two MVC stadiums without lights.

No. 4:After advancing to the playoffs last season for the first time since 1983, the Saluki football team learned it has some more work to do after falling hard 48-7 to eventual national champion Delaware.

No. 3:First Bruce Weber, then Matt Painter. Could Chris Lowery be next?

No. 2:Last season’s loss to Alabama in the first round of the NCAA tournament was tough, but not nearly as hard to swallow as the one-point loss to Missouri the year before. Jermaine Dearman got called for a bogus blocking foul, thus ending the reign of him, Kent Williams and Weber as Salukis.

No. 1:While the Missouri game was heartbreaking, the loss before to Creighton in the MVC championship was unbearable. The Bluejays held first-half leads of 10-0, 22-4 and 42-14 before defeating the Salukis 80-56. Ouch!

Most awesomely bad moments:No. 5:It is awesome that the Saluki men’s basketball, football, baseball and softball teams seem to have no problems advancing to conference championship games, but as evidenced by recent history, the results are usually pretty bad.

No. 4:The 2003-2004 SIU basketball team runs through the MVC with 17 consecutive wins, but stumbles at Northern Iowa in the final regular season game. A 17-1 conference record is great, but falling just short of an undefeated record leaves a lump in your throat.

No. 3:Yes, the 2002 SIU volleyball team concluded its best season ever by advancing to the MVC championship game, but the Salukis were trounced by national power Northern Iowa in the finals. Bittersweet!

No. 2:In one of the greatest finishes ever at the SIU Arena, Sylvester Willis hauled in a full-court pass from Darren Brooks and proceeded to lay in the game-winning basket at the closing seconds. The finish was spectacular, but the superior Saluki team shouldn’t have needed such a dramatic ending to dispose of the Braves.

No. 1:The SIU baseball team has exceeded expectations by advancing unscathed to the MVC championship game each of the last two seasons, but both times Wichita State has spoiled the fun. The Salukis, who needed to lose twice in the championship to be eliminated both times, did just that in 2003 and 2004.

Most anticipated moments in Saluki sports:No. 5:Western Illinois. Homecoming. Halloween weekend. Need I say anything else to get fans hyped for perhaps the biggest football game of the year?

No. 4:The SIU women’s basketball team hasn’t had a winning record since the 1995-1996 season, but new head coach Dana Eikenberg figures to change that. 2004-2005 should be the most anticipated Saluki women’s basketball season in years.

No:3:Many are looking forward to the opening of the Troutt-Wittmann Academic and Training Center, which should boost recruiting and performance for all SIU sports.

No. 2:It has been talked about for years, but will McAndrew Stadium actually be renovated? Who knows?

No. 1:Nothing gets Southern Illinoisans’ hearts racing more so than Saluki men’s basketball, and with Lowery at the helm this year, it is no different. The beginning of the Lowery era holds more expectations than Weber or Painter ever had to deal with, which should lead to an interesting season this year.

Saluki fans’ worst nightmares:No. 5:McAndrew stadium crumbles from increased fans this season. Can decaying McAndrew Stadium absorb a noticeable spike in attendance? A disaster is unlikely, but I know I’ll be a little worried from the press box next season.

No. 4:The women’s basketball team continues to stink. With a new coach and newfound optimism, women’s basketball’s future looks bright. But should Eikenberg fail, can anyone resurrect the once proud program?

No:3:SIU football head coach Jerry Kill leaves for another job. Weber left. Painter left. Will Kill soon follow them out the door to bigger and better things? It would certainly crush a lot of hearts if he did.

No. 2:Saluki Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk leaves for another job. Many give credit to Kowalczyk for the recent success of Saluki athletics. Could the Saluki program survive without its leader? There are no Saluki fans that want to know the answer to that question.

No. 1:Lowery busts. It has been questioned on, and it will certainly be spotlighted all season long. Will Lowery be able to continue the men’s basketball team’s success, or will he run it in to the ground? His early success in recruiting suggests the former, but it hasn’t stopped people from discussing the latter.