Bob Asmussen

Bob Asmussen

Top of the Morning, Jan. 18, 2019

Want to see the only lunar eclipse of 2019 up close? Parkland College's Staerkel Planetarium has you covered.

The eclipse, set to begin at 9:13 p.m. our time Sunday, will last past midnight. Staerkel Director DAVE LEAKE said it will be visible from your own yard.

"No telescope is needed," Leake said.

Asmussen | Finally, Coach can rest easy

CHAMPAIGN — Brad Underwood had been fighting a cold, turning his voice a bit on the raspy side.

He got a lot better Wednesday night.

"Winning really feels really good," Underwood said.

The losses don't go down well for the feisty coach. It impacts his life. Simple things like sleeping.

On Wednesday, the second-year Illinois boss figured to snooze like a newborn.

Asmussen | Illini move on from Jeff Thomas

I am an optimist by nature. With a great faith in people.

So, when someone tells me, say, "I'm on my way to play football at Illinois," I tend to believe them.

That's what happened late Monday afternoon, when I talked to receiver Jeff Thomas. He was on his way to Champaign and said he was excited about getting started with Lovie Smith's program.

Until he wasn't.

Oladipo reinstated by Illini

CHAMPAIGN — Lere Oladipo has been reinstated to the Illinois football team by coach Lovie Smith, according to UI athletics spokesman Kent Brown.

Asmussen | Jeff Thomas 'excited to get started' with Illini

"I'm on my way now. I'm really excited to get started at Illinois."

That's what Jeff Thomas told me Monday afternoon while driving from his home in East St. Louis to the Illinois campus.

The star receiver is waiting on his transcripts. But contrary to rumors that circulated in recent days, he is not returning to Miami.

Was there anything to it?

Thomas plans on sticking with Illini

Speculation in the last 72 hours centered around whether Jeff Thomas would actually wind up at Illinois or stay at Miami.

The transfer wide receiver cleared up those rumors on Monday afternoon. He's coming to Illinois.

"I'm on my way now," Thomas told The News-Gazette. "I'm really excited to get started at Illinois."

Third and long: Asmussen's top opening-week matchups

Our college football writer is counting down the days until the 2019 season. Here are a few opening-week games he’s looking forward to:

1. Auburn vs. Oregon (Aug. 31, at Arlington, Texas)

The Ducks — led by returning quarterback Justin Herbert — are in my preseason Top 10 and the Tigers aren't far behind.

Four downs: Former Illini linebacker Matt Sinclair

Illinois football beat writer Bob Asmussen chatted with former Illini linebacker Matt Sinclair, who is now the linebackers coach at North Central College. On Friday, he was pardoned by Gov. Bruce Rauner for his 2015 conviction on a weapons charge that happened while he was a part of the Illinois football staff in 2013:

1. How did the first year go?

Asmussen | Mahomet native Reeder on the fast track, but in no hurry

This week, Clemson-Alabama got most of the college football attention. Deservedly so.

But folks in Mahomet and at Eastern Illinois were also paying attention to the FCS championship game on Jan. 5. Super-power North Dakota State won another title, beating Eastern Washington 38-24 in Frisco, Texas.

First and 10: Asmussen's favorite Big Ten venues

Our college football writer's favorite Big Ten home venues:

1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State

Huge and impressive, with a loud fan base that treats the game like it is life or death. Which it is.

2. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin

"Jump Around" is one of the best traditions in college football. Scary for a first-timer.