Talk with football beat writer Bob Asmussen in Houston.
Welcome back to another chat. Sorry about being a few minutes late. I was having dinner with Mark Goldenberg and his family. They graciously took me to a new dining experience. It was a lot of fun. I underestimated the time it would take me to get back here. So, now I'm blathering instead of answering your questions.
Let's get to it, shall we?
Figure out if any recruits are enrolling early?
I have it on the highest authority that there are no early enrollees right now. And that's disappointing to the staff, which would like to count a few guys on the 2010 class.
There still could be a guy join the program early, but it doeesn't look likely.
With all of the football talent in Texas do you think Illinois can make some connections with this appearance in this bowl? Seems like we never really tried to make some connections down there. Why is that? They seem to export there players to other parts of the Midwest.
With Joe Gilbert and Ron West on the staff now, Illinois is gaining connections. But I think unless you are here all the time, it isn't to recruit Texas. Just like Florida isn't easy for everybody. John Mackovic had good success recruiting Texas for Illinois. But it hasn't been a heavily recruited state in recent years. The bowl will have an impact. I think if Illinois can get a kid or two from Houston or Dallas, it could turn into a situation similar to what it has going with some of the Florida cities. Maybe not as many kids, but at least a foot in the door.
The bowl has been getting good coverage locally. That helps Illinois and Baylor recruiting.
How has the team practiced leading up to the Texas Bowl?
I've seen about five minutes of the workouts. That's all I've been allowed to see. The coaches and players seem happy with the practices, so I'll take their word for it.
I think the critical time for Illinois was the practices it held in Champaign before leaving for Houston.
Is Tate feeling like Santa or Scrooge?
I think of Loren as a skinny Santa. With less hair. And I don't see him wearing red too much (probably reminds him of Bob Knight).
have you heard of any players or coaches who will not be back second semester
I'm guessing there will be one or two. There always seems to be.
I do think Jack Ramsey will be back at Illinois in the spring and next season. He is working at cornerback and will get some time in Wednesday's game.
Bob, I saw you asked Zook what happened in '08 and '09. Glad you did. When I saw him in Spring '09, he said that maybe he did not run a tough enough Rantoul session. Based on what his answers were to you, he really does not know why his Rose Bowl-experienced teams were unsuccessful. Do you think he knows, but does not want to blame players? Would a Nick Saban or Urban Meyer know precisely what went wrong with his unsuccessful team?
Is the forecast tomorrow for rain still likely? Will the TexFest be moved inside if it rains?
Just about finished packing.
I think all coaches have an idea what happens when it doesn't work. Usually, the answer is easy: less talent than the teams it played. I think that's part of the answer for the 2008 and 2009 teams. And I also think there were some chemistry issues on the coaching staff that have been resolved now. Ron Zook didn't say that, but I'm reading between the lines.
I think Ron Zook wants to move on. A win Wednesday will make that easier. So will a big 2011 season.
Rain looks likely tomorrow, which means the roof will be closed. I hope they have an inside venue for the TexFest. They seem prepared here.
Bob, Do you think that the Illini can get the running game going against the Baylor defense?
I do. If you look at Baylor's struggles this season, at times it couldn't stop the run or the pass. I think the strength of the Illinois line and the ability of Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford to break tackles will be a problem for the Bears.
Whats the mind set of the guys the night before the game? Are we mostly injury free? Saw some of the video on fightingillini.com looks like the couple of weeks off helped re energize the guys and seemed to help a little bit with our tackling.
There were four Illinois players at the press conference today and three guys from Baylor. Both sides seemed relaxed, but I would say the Illinois guys were more serious.
The team is as healthy as it has been since the start of the season. Terry Hawthorne is the best he has been all year. He will play a lot.
"Most ADs aren't working at their own schools."
And Ron Guenther isn't working at Illinois. He's simply stealing money. "Waiting for Zook's contract to run out" isn't a strategy; it's a surrender.
Guenther's performance is about the same as a Springfield politician. People pay money and see absolutely no results. It's like pouring dollars down a sewer.
Is it 2014 yet,
Thanks for the comments. And please don't pour money down a sewer. That is both wasteful and creates a drainage problem.
I would argue that Ron Guenther is not stealing money from Illinois. That's just me.
Bob, Zook has had only a few winning seasons in his 10 years of head coaching. Think he can have coaching longevity as long as his teams continue to under perform?
No. You have to win at some point to keep going. If Illinois wins six games next season, I think serious consideration would be made for a change. But I think the 2011 team will win more than six.
If you had to grade all the Big Ten quarterbacks on passing ability only, where would Scheelhaase rank?
Statistically, he'd be in the second half. For now. But he has improved and will continue to improve.
He throws fewer interception than most of the guys. His completion percentage needs to improve.
Watch him in two years. He's going to be a lot better. Hard work and a good offensive coordinator can help a guy a lot.
How valuble will this expierence be for a jump start on next yr?
You must have read my preview. The extra practices are a big help. A win would be even bigger. The difference between 7-6 and 6-7 can't be ignored.
Bob, that was a super srticle on Jay Prosch & yes he can run & catch & both very well. I am his uncle (played college football)& my son Olin is an all-state soccer player. We played a lot of 2 on 2 ball with Jay & Jerry & considering his size & strength, his running & catching are amazing. Zook has a secret weapon in the wings. Wait & see. I wrote an article about the Wrigley game if you are interested.
Great to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. Jay seems like a great kid. I want to see him get the ball against Baylor. Preferably a reception in the open field.
I'll look at the article when I get done chatting. Keep in touch.
First question: have you picked yourself up a ten gallon hat to wear around C-U upon your return?
In regards to the actual game, I cannot get excited by a bowl that is owned by ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN, Inc. meaning the game is nothing more than TV time for the network. A second talking point is the unsold tickets by Illinois, meaning is there any reason you would not sell them back to Baylor or the bowl, i.e what's the difference of another 5,000 fans cheering for the Bears if tickets sales have already surpassed 60,000. In addition, by not releasing the unsold tickets to Baylor or the Texas Bowl, Ron Goonthar and the University of Illinois are potentially reducing the monies donated to the official charity or DePelchin Children's Center that provides services to orphaned and autistic children in the Houston metro area. Bob, you can defend not selling the tickets by stating the Illini will not be adversely impacted due to the overall Big Ten bowl pay-out; however, it is the Houston area charity that may be adversely impacted and proves that the U of I and President Hogan are nothing more than reincarnations of Ebenezer Scrooge. BTW, my sister liked her Texas Bowl t-shirt.
No hats. I rarely wear them. I will happily bring one home for somebody else. It's not a good look on me. Actually, there isn't a good look on me.
I am all for helping charities. I'm hoping and guessing that the folks in the Texas Bowl and at Illinois will do the right thing.
As you know, your sister is awesome and I figured she would appreciate the shirt. That's one of the rare Xmas presents I actually got a say in.
I'm getting more and more excited about the end of the season so you can finally start asking the tough questions of Guenther. I don't care if he won't have coffee with you at Mary Ann's; grill him! He deserves it!
Now to my question. If Bob Asmussen was the Athletic Director and in charge of hiring a coach, what would he look for? What type of coach could get Illinois back to a level where more people cared about the program? Names would be great, but if you don't want to go that far, would you pick an offensive-minded coach or defensive one?
If Bob Asmussen was the athletic director, Illinois would be in serious, serious trouble. First, I'd open every practice to the media. And the locker rooms would be open after the games. And I would declare The News-Gazette "The Official Newspaper of the Big Ten."
Hiring a football coach would be very, very difficult. Do you pick the guy on your own or get help from a committee. Part of the reason to avoid the committee approach is so there won't be leaks. But since I work for a newspaper, I like leaks. So, a committee is a possibility.
What we do in the N-G sports department when we make a hire is several staff members go to lunch or dinner with the candidate and look for the fit. You can't quite do that with a football coach, but I do think having multiple parties helps in the hiring prccess.
There are great coaches who have worked on offense and on defense. I don't think you limit yourself to one or the other. Make sure the person wants to be at your school. Find out their staff plans. Make sure the person doesn't see your school as a stepping stone.
I think you can hire all sorts of personalities types. I like funny and quirky, like Mike Leach. But serious works well too. Bottom line, the person has to be somebody you can picture handling the job at the worst of times. It's easy when you are winning at a high level. But what happens when times are tough?
Does that make sense? Hope so.
Bob, which is the better beer - Lone Star or Shiner?
What three players on each team should I watch closely during the game?
Can you drive to El Paso and then Dallas for the other two bowl games?
I'm not a beer drinker. Ask me about Dr. Pepper and Diet Pepsi and I'm your man (both is the answer).
Illinois: Jay Prosch, Terry Hawthorne, Corey Liuget.
Baylor: Robert Griffin, Jay Finley, Byron Landor.
I would love to drive to El Paso and Dallas for the other two games. That would be a lot of fun. After I retire, I'm going on a bowl trek like that.
Hey Bob what is the injury status of Ian Thomas?
He is going to play and will start. He isn't quite 100 percent, but he's closer than he was two weeks ago. He said he will contribute. He's a tough guy, a former boxer. And he's excited about his senior season.
Iowa up on Mizzou 14-3 (2nd quarter); would you have predicted that?
I would have before Iowa suspended all of those guys. Thanks for the update. I haven't had a chance to watch. Missouri can really struggle in bowls.
Any info with regard to Martez Wilson, and/or Liuget, and this year's NFL draft? Hopefully BOTH players will come back next year! Thanks for taking my question.
I think there is a chance that both will come back. I think there is a chance both will leave. And it could be 1-1. But Corey Liuget was asked today if he will be playing in a second bowl at Illinois and he smiled and said he thinks there is a good chance for that. I want all players to stay, but I also understand that sometimes family situations make it necessary to leave. And I think we all need to respect that.
The three guys in question have been great to deal with. Selfishly, I hope they return. Bottom line, I wish them the best no matter what they do.
Singaltary is available ....any thoughts lol?
I had him smiling in my Monday story. Oops. I think he could be a good college coach, but I'm guessing he wants to stay in the NFL.
Can you meet deadline tomorrow night?
As long as the computer is working, I hope so. I don't write as fast as Loren, so maybe he can give me some pointers.
I'm going to cut it off for tonight. Thanks again for all of the great questions (except for Jim's) and sorry about being late.
I will chat after the game at 11 p.m., which is after our deadline. Everybody have a great night and enjoy the Texas Bowl. I've got to go get me a 10-gallon hat.