Ask N-G college football beat writer Bob Asmussen about Tim Beckman's team.
Welcome back to another chat. The season is really starting to feel like it is upon us. Part of that is the upcoming Big Ten media kickoff in Chicago.
I spent Saturday at the league's annual officials clinic. Very interesting stuff. You'll be happy to know I talked for a while with Bill LeMonnier, the referee from the Illinois-Michigan game in 2000. He seems like a great guy. Twelve years later, he still beats himself up for the mistakes the crew made in that game.
Enough jibber-jabber. Let's get to the questions.
Should PSU get the death penalty? Expulsion from the B10?
My initial reaction to both was: no, no.
But the more I think about it and the more I hear others talk about it, I think something drastic has to be done. I don't think a bowl ban covers it. And I don't think scholarship reductions or a television ban covers it. You do that stuff if a school gives a player a car or money.
What happened at Penn State is the worst scandal in the history of college sports. Why? Because of the length of the troubles and the fact that high-level administrators, including a legendary football coach, apparently allowed Jerry Sandusky to continue to victimize children. That isn't acceptable.
With the facts mostly in, the NCAA can move forward with potential penalties. And shutting down the program for a year or two has to be an option.
I don't think Penn State will get expelled from the Big Ten and I don't think it should. This is mostly an administrator/football issue. No reason to end the positive relationships with all of the other Penn State sports.
Hello Bob, I have 2 topics for you this week. 1. Why isn't Hawthorne going to Chicago for media day? Would figure that he should be there especially since he decided to stay for his Senior year. 2. I've been keeping track of Yahoo sports college football countdown and was a little surprised at how high we are ranked in the preseason poll #33, now don't get me wrong I like it, but I thinking more like 40 to 45 with our issues on the offensive side of the ball. I know the defense will carry the load because that is our strength going into this season till the offense finds its groove with a new scheme being put in. What's your opinion of this Yahoo ranking? GO ILLINI
Terry Hawthorne is definitely worthy to be included on the trip. He's a very nice kid and I think he would do well in Chicago. But he is a little shy with the media. I first got to know him when he was our state player of the year as a senior in East St. Louis. He didn't want to brag about himself, so we let his coach and others do it for him. He has gotten much more comfortable with the media during his time at Illinois.
I'm not at all surprised by the people who are going. Graham Pocic is the Chicago guy with the chance for a big senior season. And Nathan Scheelhaase is 2-0 in bowl games and the team's starting quarterback. He had to be a part of it. I'm happy that Michael Buchanan is going and hope to hear more about his summer. Wonder if his broken jaw will be a topic?
I read the Yahoo story and it looks like they based the pick on the strength of the defense, the potential for the offense with Scheelhaase and the schedule. Gerry DiNardo told me he really likes the Illinois schedule because a lot of the nonpowers in the league are coming to Champaign. Illinois should have a good chance to beat Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota at Memorial Stadium. If those games were on the road, it would be much more of a tossup (Illinois went 1-2 against those three last year).
Bob, do you think the Big Ten will take any action against Penn State now that the Freeh Report is out?
IMO the Big Ten should ban Penn State from post-season play in ALL sports for five years minimum. If the Big Ten ignores this and imposes no meaningful sanctions, I will be utterly disgusted at their phony pretense of moral virtue - it will make me puke. Ditto the NCAA.
P.S. I don't know what's wrong with Tate, but he seems not to be able to see a connection between the NCAA and what went on at Penn State. Ask him if he thinks the crimes could not have been committed and/or covered up had it not been for football. That connection seems pretty blatent to me. NCAA football was the great enabler for Sanduski, Paterno, et al.
I think a five-year ban for all sports would be too harsh. Football is the culprit in this case and football is the sport that deserves the punishment.
I'm guessing the Big Ten will defer to the NCAA in this case. And I'm guessing the NCAA will get involved. The problem for Penn State is the coverup, which went on for years and years. Schools officials had a chance to stop the guy, but instead worried about the potential tarnished image. How'd that work out for you?
I've been asked: What would you do if it was your boss or a family member? My answer back is: You always protect children. Period. Even if it means somebody going away who is very important in your life. If Joe Paterno had used that as his rule, Penn State wouldn't be in this mess. Instead, his concern was protecting the face of the program. That is puke inducing.
Would the NCAA ban Penn State football for this season? It would be tricky to do, but possible. First, you would have to give all the current players the opportunity to transfer without penalty. Second, you would have to reconfigure the Big Ten schedules to make sure, say, a hole in the Illinois schedule could be filled with another Big Ten school. In the Illinois case it works and would simply require the Illini to play Iowa on Oct. 20. Right now, that's an open date for Illinois. That would move the Illinois open date to late September.
I don't expect the NCAA to act that quickly, but there is no reason for it to wait. The facts are in. And clearly something more must be done.
Hello Bob, I noticed that the B1G/PAC? football deal went south , This is where I suggest we go to play football. I believe the SEC would be the best group to set up games. First we must accept the fact that we need to play the best to get some respect. Second ,it would open up recruiting pluses for getting Southern talent up North. The final benefit is it would help our attendence problem cause those people follow their teams. I think the BTN will be the biggest problem and was when trying to strike a deal with other conferences. I also read that we are getting new field turf again, is this true? I really, really wish Illinois would go back to good ole American grass. I have heard all the pluses on turf but I miss grass stains,dirt, mud, Have you noticed that all the B1G with great turf programs have grass fields: Mich.St.,PSU and Purdue. Doesn't Illinois have an Ag dept if I recall my days there. Oh yeah, I am not buying the reasons for no new uniforms cause I have seen dozens come out over the summer. I believe we will have new uni's just keeping it secret like the coaching hires.
Great to hear from you as always. No surprise that the Pac-12 decided to get out of the deal. The league plays nine conference games. If you are Southern Cal, which also plays Notre Dame every year, it probably didn't want a Big Ten game on top of that.
That doesn't mean the schools can't play, it just won't be as formalized. Illinois has Arizona State and Washington coming up.
I really like the idea of the Big Ten playing more games against the SEC. For Illinois, games against Kentucky, Vandy, Ole Miss and Tennessee make a ton of sense. So does a trip or two to Florida. Heck, I would really like to cover a game at Alabama.
I don't know why there haven't been as many Big Ten/SEC games. They play a lot in the bowls, might as well extend it to the regular season.
I thought I heard something about the new turf. I love games on grass, especially in rain and snow. But from a cost standpoint, I think the turf is a better deal.
I'm curious about the uniforms. Lots of different statements being made. We'll all find out together.
Yahoo in their annual ranking of 122 Div 1 teams, has the ILLINI at 33 yesterday, ahead of Iowa, Pur, PSU, NU, IU and Minny. Author feels defense will excel again and Coach Beckman will improve the offense. I am happy to see their confidence in us, but feel 33 is too heroic. I know you feel there is a range of W and L's this team could have, but if you had make a definitive ranking today, would you have put us at 33 out of 122? Thanks
I don't think No. 33 is outrageous for Illinois. A lot depends on how well the guys on offense develop within a new system. But I think the defense will keep Illinois in most games.
Four key games are Western Michigan, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech and Penn State. If Illinois sweeps those games or goes 3-1, it could mean an eight- or nine-win season.
While I don't think you can cap the win total for any team, I think the realistic high end for Illinois is nine. I think games at Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State are going to be extremely difficult. Could Illinois win one of the three? Sure. But going 2-1 or 3-0 doesn't appear likely.
I think the team will be well prepared for the start of the season. If the special teams improve and the team gets more than it share of breaks, it can contend for the Leaders title. Remember, Ohio State isn't eligible and there's a giant cloud hanging over Penn State.
Any word on Miami Thomas, Brian Gamble or D'Angelo McCray?
Wow, there are some blasts from the recent past.
Miami Thomas wasn't eligible for his final season at Illinois.
D'Angelo McCray transferred to Memphis and moved from defense to offense for the Tigers. He was undrafted, but was signed by the New York Giants.
Gamble appears to be out of football. I tried to hunt him down last fall with little success.
Hi Bob -
Last week, you mentioned several receivers who have Illinois up on their lists, including Robert Foster and Tyler Boyd. How serious is the interest on Foster and Boyd's part? It seems like Foster would be as big of a get as Treadwell, given that he is a four or five star recruit, depending on the site.
Thanks for your tiime,
I haven't had contact with either player to gauge their interest. They both have multiple schools as possibilities, but include Illinois in their top group. That means something.
Also, both players are from Pennsylvania, where Tim Beckman and his staff appear to have good contacts. They took players out of the state for the incoming class and are continuing to pursue players there for next year and beyond.
From studying this a little bit, it looks like there is great depth nationally at receiver. If Illinois shows that it is willing to pass the ball a lot, then I don't imagine it will have much of a problem drawing interest from top players.
And the school had two elite receivers during the Zook era, guys who are earning NFL checks. That has to help with recruiting.
I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks for all of your questions.
There won't be a chat next Monday. I'm going to be out of town. But I will resume chatting on July 30.
If you have any questions between now and then, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.