CHAMPAIGN - Here in the Heartland, where family values and common courtesy frown on such behav-ior, we tend to wrinkle our noses when a wide receiver catches a 7-yard pass for a first down, then bounces around and waves his arms like he's auditioning for "Dancing with the Stars."

We frown when a defender breaks up a first-quarter pass and then acts as though he's made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl.

And while that behavior might earn endorsements and nicknames in the National Football League, cele-brating individually in a way that taunts the other team can bring a 15-yard penalty in college ball.

That's one reason Illinois' new defensive coordinator, Vic Koenning, went ballistic last week when one of his defenders launched into a one-man gyration during a scrimmage.

Since then, both Koenning and new offensive coordinator Paul Petrino have made it clear they will not tolerate attention-getting celebrations that fly in the face of what they want to be team success in a team game that includes team celebrations done in an appropriate way.

When it first became a spring practice issue on Saturday, coach Ron Zook addressed it by saying, "You want the enthusiasm and you want them to be all fired up, but celebrate with your teammates."

Then Zook added, "I don't worry about it too much in the spring."

But Koenning and Petrino seem inclined to worry about it a lot - now, this fall and always.

Koenning, who admits he was guilty of celebrating as an individual when he was a three-year starter, team captain and 1983 graduate at Kansas State, explained his stance.

"They are not in the NFL," he said. "In college football, if you celebrate individually, you tend to get a flag. That's part of it. Celebrate with your teammates. Act like you've been there before. We don't need to go out and do all that stuff.

"One time it happened in the two-minute drill. (The offense) is lined up ready to go and we're over there celebrating. That's not real smart.

"College football is supposed to be wholesome and not have all that celebration stuff. We're not going to do that. That shows no class. I know coach Zook doesn't want it. I know the people of Illinois don't want it, and I guarantee you I don't want it, so we're not going to do it."

Koenning, who speaks in a slow, Oklahoma drawl, sounded almost embarrassed to be asked about his celebration stance again after Tuesday's scrimmage, as more and more media are realizing a bigger issue is the wide-ranging need for tighter discipline.

"It's not what this program wants to be about," Koenning said of the unnecessary celebrations. "Don't get me wrong, when I was in college I was probably as bad as anyone on that. But things have changed. I guess I have matured and grown up, and I shouldn't have been allowed to do that. I'm not going to allow my guys to do that."

On offense, Petrino is trying to demand the same level of discipline.

"We're going to celebrate as a team, always," he said. "They don't need to celebrate on their own. We al-ways talk about being a fist and being all together. When they make a big play, they want to come together and celebrate together."

Perhaps because they are often one-on-one with a defender, receivers are prime candidates to conclude a nice catch with a one-man victory dance. Petrino has different expectations, and they reach beyond celebra-tions.

"I think if you watch practice, our group of receivers will probably do what they are told. I think it's some-thing you talk about every time you watch tape.

"The other day, we had a couple of guys who didn't hand the ball to the officials right after the play. That's important. You don't want to throw it or spin it or anything. Every once in awhile, a guy will get a little overly enthusiastic and you just have to make them run and they'll remember it."

Discipline, both coordinators have said, is a point of emphasis this spring, not only with celebrations that can influence penalties or cast a team's reputation in a bad light, but because attention to detail is paramount to improved play on each side of the ball.

And when your team has gone from 9-3 to 5-7 to 3-9, improvement is needed everywhere.

"If you have discipline, you don't hurt yourself," Petrino said. "Play to the whistle and don't kill yourself with penalties and you'll have a chance to win."

Koenning put the need for discipline in even a larger context.

"They are our kids," he said. "We're accountable for them, what they do down on Green Street, what they do in the classroom and we're accountable for what they do out there on the field. So we're just trying to be parents."|421-7983

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