How would you grade Tim Beckman so far? How many games will his first team win? Ask college football beat writer Bob Asmussen, who is chatting Monday afternoon.
Welcome back to another football chat. Hard to believe the Big Ten meetings are just three weeks away. Can't wait to get up there.
There a few questions in the hopper, so we better get to them. Thanks again for checking in.
Any news on any new changes to the gameday experience around Memorial Stadium. I know Mike Thomas has talked about that being one of his goals. Maybe moving some of the lots that you have to pay for on gameday closer to the stadium so that we fill more of the empty spaces?
You are right, Mike Thomas has talked a lot about the gameday experience. Why? Because he wants that building filled.
I think it is smart for the school to listen to the fans. It has to know what works and what doesn't. I think there will be changes, though maybe not immediately. I know a new scoreboard is going in, but not until the 2013 season. It will be a great improvement over the current setup. And the school is planning some ribbon boards as well, which will help with the gameday experience.
I think upgrades for concessions and restrooms on the East side will be a part of future discussions. And the school is always interested in new items to sell to the fans. As the season gets closer, I will check on possible concession changes.
I like your idea about the parking lot changes, but I think the school will always cater to the heavy donors. What would make some sense is to check with those people to see if they will be at certain games and if not, resell the parking spaces. It makes no sense to have empty spots near the stadium while forcing other fans to walk blocks.
With Beckman bringing on Bellamy is this the first time the Illini have had someone focusing on the Alumni and how they can benefit from keeping them plugged into the program?
Seems like that would have been a no brainer...!
Have you heard any more details on what camp will look like? Is the plan still to only spend one week in Rantoul?
Have you had a chance to view the new strength coach and see the differences he is making?
Thanks for the chats and keeping us informed!!
It is kind of a surprise that the school didn't have anybody dedicated to alumni relations before Mike Bellamy. Give the new staff credit for realizing there was a need and give Tim Beckman credit for hiring Mike Bellamy. To me, Bellamy was a logical choice because of his connections to the former players. He bridges multiple eras. Plus, he has been involved in coaching and really wanted to be a part of the program.
Yes, the team is going to spend a week in Camp Rantoul. I believe it will all be open to the public and I don't think there will be a scrimmage at the high school. Once the team returns to Champaign, I think the public access will be limited. It will be interesting to see how much time the team spends at Camp Rantoul in the future. I hope it continues and hope that it last longer next year and beyond. Once the new staff gets a taste of it, I think they will really enjoy the experience. I'm guessing they will wish it was longer by the time they come home.
I haven't spent much time with the new strength staff. The players speak very highly about the new staff and seem to be making gains. I know there has been more emphasis on competition in everything they do.
Thanks for the chat. What is your take on the whole Penn State situation? How has it affected their recruiting in the short term and/or long term? As a parent, would you want to send you kid there after all that has happen?
Also, since the new division scheduling, Illinois will play Purdue, Indiana, Penn St, Ohio St. and Wisconsin every year, along with Northwestern as our rival. I would say that Illinois definitely lucked out since most of these programs will be down in the years to come. Do you think Illinois should be able to consistently finish in the top 3 every year?
The Penn State situation is extremely difficult to figure out. The problem for the school is that even though the Jerry Sandusky case has ended, the news is going to continue. Sandusky will be sentenced, which will be a story. And the school administrators face trials. And the school is going to get sued for a bazillion dollars. And Joe Paterno's part in all of it will be scrutinized for years.
It puts the new staff in a tough position. But it has been able to handle it so far. The 2013 class is ranked No. 15 right now by Rivals.com. Not bad considering all of the issues there. If the school keeps winning under Bill O'Brien, I think the program has a chance to continue to be strong. But there will be a hit. Some parents will absolutely refuse to send their kids to Penn State, even though none of the people involved in the scandal aren't there. Over time, I think some of that will go away.
I think if my children wanted to go to Penn State, I would have to consider it. I don't think I would eliminate the idea just because of the Sandusky scandal. But it would be a part of the discussion for sure. I don't like the attitude and secrecy at the school. You'd have to think that is gone now.
The divisions definitely broke in Illinois' favor. At least at first glance. But I think Ohio State and Wisconsin will continue to be strong. And Penn State can rebound from all of the trouble. I would say Illinois should be in the Top 4 every year and should strive to finish higher.
How do you compare the first six months of Tim Beckman's tenure to other staffs you've been around? In seeing a couple of early reports in the football magazines the consensus seems to be 6-6, with a bowl. Any chance we could be better tha this? Seems like the excitement of a new begining should make for a gung ho start, and if we do get off to a good start that should open a lot of doors for what seems to be a good recruiting staff.
It's been different, that's for sure. Rarely does a coach get to come in and watch his team prepare for a bowl. Lou Tepper was actually coaching the bowl when he took over. But Ron Turner and Ron Zook took over losing teams. Tim Beckman has a big advantage after watching his guys get ready for UCLA. And I think it helped that he got a fresh start with the team after the bowl.
The emphasis has been on getting the team together as one, a good plan. There have been a few blips, of course. That happens with every transition. Generally, it has gone well in part because of the recent bowl success.
I think Illinois can win 10 games. Or it can win four games. Or somewhere in between. I don't think the preseason magazines are giving Illinois much of a chance to win at Arizona State. That makes sense to me. But I won't be at all surprised if Illinois wins at Tempe. And I won't be surprised if it loses to Louisiana Tech. Early season momentum will be critical. So will early success in the Big Ten, which will be a chore given the first three are against Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The coaches are doing well in recruiting. If the team wins at a high level, the class will get even better.
If we dont get Treadwell, which is unlikely, what other wr's are open to the U of I?
Treadwell is an obvious priority for Illinois. While he has a bunch of options, I think Illinois has a chance. I think the longer he waits, the better it is for Illinois. And if he doesn't make a call until during the year, then Illinois can show him what it plans to do on offense and how he fits in.
Others who have Illinois up on their lists include Robert Foster, Tyler Boyd, Marquion Lane, Wesley Thomas, Julius Wilson and Kwamane Bowens. Illinois needs a bunch of receivers to run its offense and will be losing guys off the current team in the near future. So it is a critical position.
I am going to cut it off for today. Thanks for all of your questions. I will be back next Monday.
If you need anything between now and then, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to get back to you ASAP.