Oct. 8 Bob Asmussen football chat

Oct. 8 Bob Asmussen football chat

Monday, October 8, 2012 - 1:00pm

Our longtime beat writer is up and at 'em after his August heart attack and hoping to talk some Illini football. Ask him about Tim Beckman's future, recruiting and schemes ... or anything that's on your mind. Bob's chatting at 1 p.m. Monday but submit questions any time.


Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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Welcome back to another chat. Sorry I've been gone for so long. I have really missed our weekly talks and am thrilled to be able to do them again.

I'm gradually getting myself ready to go back to work. I've still got some recovery to do, but it's going well. Thanks for all of the kind words you have passed along. It means a lot.

And thanks to the News-Gazette staff, especially Jim Rossow, Marcus Jackson, Paul Klee and Loren Tate, who have done a tremendous job covering the Illinois football team. I want to be able to help as soon as possible, but the paper and HQ are obviously in good hands.

Enough of the sentimental stuff, let's get to the questions.

Oh, wait, a housekeeping matter first. We are giving Chicago Bulls tickets away tonight at our weekly radio show. Join us at The Esquire if you get the chance. It should be fun.

Now, I'm answering questions.

Dave C. wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm


Welcome back. You've been greatly missed.I'd like to feel encouraged that the Illini stayed in the game until the 4th quarter but if Wisconsin's QB wasn't missing open recievers it could have been much worse earlier. Give me some hope and reason to keep watching. 

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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Dave C.,

Well, I think Nathan Scheelhaase is playing better. He's obviously feeling better, which means a lot to a guy who uses his legs as much as he does. And I like that he tried to high-five the official. Classic. He hasn't forgotten how to play football, but he needs some help from the lineman, receivers and running backs.

On defense, I thought Michael Buchanan looked involved against Wisconsin. The seniors have to realize they are running out of time.

The schedule softens up to... well, after Saturday. Illinois should beat Indiana at home, though I'm guessing the Hoosiers are counting that one as a win too.


CM_Punk_Fan wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob - What are your feelings on all the so-called Illini "fans" that want to see Beckman fail so they can blame Thomas....because they are mad that he fired Bruce Weber?  Dispicable I say.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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I'll tell you what I said on our radio show last week: It's way, way, way too early to make any kind of evaluation of the Tim Beckman era. Of course, the team is struggling. But we don't know that that wouldn't have happened with any new coach. Or had Ron Zook stayed. Transitions sometimes mean a step or two backward. It isn't pleasant, but it can happen.

I think Mike Thomas made the moves he felt were necessary and I wouldn't argue with any of them. You have to give him more than half a season to make a call on it. I understand the eagerness to win now, but it isn't always realistic. Let Tim Beckman have more time and it might just get turned around.

I don't get why anyone would be against an AD unless the guy is just a complete jerk. And that isn't the case with Mike Thomas. He faced difficult challenges at Illinois and went at them in a professional way. I can't fault him for any move to this point.

Konnie wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Great to have you back and in good health!

I was disappointed that your colleague Paul Klee called the Beckman hire a disaster after only five games.  After what amount of time or under what circumstances should a new coach hire be declared a disaster by a reasonable sports reporter

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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I will defend Paul's right to write what he wrote. He was asked to give an opinion and he gave it. That's what we do.

I think we all want instant analysis of everything. After the presidential debate, there were winners and losers declared immediately. I would have liked for some time to form my own opinion.

I think you have to give a coach at least three years and I liked the old days when they went five. In today's way of thinking., Frank Beamer would have been long gone at Virginia Tech before building a power. He is the best example of what's what wrong with a quick trigger. If you give the coach a five-year deal, let him stay that long.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you see the program going out of control, you have to make an earlier change. But I certainly don't think that's the case at Illinois right now.

Jim From Mis-ery wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob: Great to have you back!! How are you feeling...and have you changed any of your routines? We really missed you during these tough times for the football team.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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Thanks for the kind words. Everything has pretty much changed for me. Diet, excercise, regular doctor visits, you name it. It was a great wakeup call for me and I'm happy I'm still around. I want to keep it that way as best I can.

It's been tough not being on the road. I love going to Madision. Ann Arbor? Not so much. But Columbus is another favorite trip. I'll be back out there in 2013.


Vic Zook wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Welcome back Bob,

Is Illinois going to win any more games this year? Seems like Beckman has lost the team. A team that had several pro-caliber players (especially on defense) will be lucky to get any drafted if this getting blown out over and over keeps up.


Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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Vic Zook,

Yes, Illinois will win more games. Probably against Indiana. And maybe Minnesota. If the team can stop turning the ball over in critical moments or allowing big plays on defense, it can win several of its remaining games.

What this team needs more than anything is a shot of confidence from something going right in a game. Take a 14-0 lead against Michigan. Block a punt for a touchdown. Score on a kickoff return.

I'll write something ridiculous: a bowl isn't out of the question. Illinois could beat Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue if it gets itself together. But it won't happen without drastic improvement.

The players aren't helping themselves in the draft, but they will still be picked. Too many good athletes not to go to the NFL.

smccaw_11748 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Welcome back Bob!  I have missed your articles and crazy votes for the AP poll.  I hope that now that you are back that the ILLINI get their butt in gear.  What do you think that they can do to win back over the fan base? It seems like everyone is calling for Beckmanns head, what are your thoughts?

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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I don't think I will have a positive or negative impact on the team. At this point, they need to play for themselves and for their legacy.

I think an upset win, against Michigan or Ohio State, would give the fans something to have some hope about. And I think that's the most important missing item: hope. Fans are looking ahead to next year when the team loses several top players and wondering how it will get better. But a big win or two would change that notion some,

You've got to give a coach more than six games. Unless you are George Steinbrenner. And he, sadly, is no longer with us.

JimmyJack wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob, the team's fortunes seemed to go south with Klee and Marcus in charge of N-G coverage. Coincidence? I think not! Great to have you back chatting and hope you're doing well.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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I would agree with you except that the team's record during my years on the beat is way under. 500.

So, we should't blame Paul and Marcus. Let's blame Loren Tate. He seems to be a constant during the years of struggles. Or maybe we should blame TV guys or ESPN.

Sadly, reporters have no influence on the performance of a football team. We simply want to tell you what happened.

jbryce111 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Do you think if they did fire Beckman, that they would go for a proven winner in Bobby Petrino?

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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First, Tim Beckman isn't going to be fired. I don't think there is any chance that happens. It is way too soon.

Somebody will hire Bobby Petrino in the future. Illinois should not be that school. And I don't think there are any guarantees he wins at the next stop.

isitBBALLseasonyet wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

What percentage would you give to Beckman being fired after this season? after next season?

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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This year: 0 percent. Next year: 0 percent.

Some schools would make that kind of move (Kansas for example), but Illinois should not be one of those schools. It sets a bad tone for the future.

FonDoc wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm


Does our o-line lack talent or is the coaching falling short?  Our run game  is pitiful!  So far I don't see any recruiting help coming, either.  

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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The injuries have definitely been a problem there, but I think Illinois was short-handed coming into the season. From what I understand, Tim Beckman wanted to add depth with junior college players, but it didn't work out. I think another body or two would make a difference.

From talking to people who know about offensive line play, Luke Butkus is a good coach. And he will continue to get better. He is trying to make it work with guys who aren't ready to star at the Big Ten level.

I think the offensive line recruiting took a hit late in the Zook era and that is showing now. I do think Illinois will end up with a solid class of linemen in 2013. The coaches have playing time to offer. But it isn't easy to move into the lineup in a hurry.

No D wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm


First welcome back hope all is going well. I will make this short and sweet Banks has to replaced after this season no way he comes back right?

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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No D,

Of course, the coordinator is going to take all of the heat. But he isn't the only one responsible. The other assistants, the head coach and the players have a hand in the troubles too.

I think evaluations will be made after the season and decisions will be made. Some of them might be difficult ones. But don't assume that Tim Banks is out the door. Or any of the other coaches, either.

RAMBO RON wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob, Good to have you back. Is there any reason Jon Davis has disapered from the offense? It seems  like we have some real talent at tight end, but all we got from the previous staff and all we get from this staff is lip service about how much they are going to use this talent. Are the coaches so inept that they don't see this. I just don't get it.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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Rambo Ron,

I'm stunned by the lack of production from Jon Davis. I thought going into the season he would catch 60 passes. I don't know if he is having trouble with the offense or is struggling in practice or can't get open.

Tight end appears to be a strength of the team. I guess it's possible that it doesn't fit with the plans of the coordinators, but if that's the case they need to make a change. When you have good players at the same position, you need to utilize them.

I do remember one year when Michigan brought out the best in an underutilized Illinois player. Jameel Cook had a big game against the Wolverines and it turned around his season. Maybe the same thing happens to Jon Davis.


dennis bialas wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob, great to have you back!  Talk about Beckman's early dismissal is really dumb after only 6 games isn't it?  In my opinion the real harm has been the previous athletic administration in viewing the state university as the U of East Central Illinois University for the past 25 years. They did this in everything from marketing, especially up here in the Chicago area to choosing there coaches. Instead of thinking big, they chose to go small and safe. End result is the product we have today, and the uphill battle we face. I realize they improved facilities, but what good is it if you don't capitilize on this make and some big time plans with the product on the field. Now you have a generation (last 25 years or so) of fans and prospective recruits who think of the U of I as an afterthought. I realize  OSU, Michigan, PSU and now Nebraska have the tradition, but after those Illinois should take a back seat to no one. In fact given the facilites and closeness of recruiting areas we should be able to go toe-to-toe with them and even best them more than occasionally. Sorry, I guess having you back gave me an outlet to vent my frustrations. As for recruiting go to CSN.com for an interesting article on Illinois recruiting. Thanks!  

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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Yes, talking about firing a coach after six games is wrong and ridiculous.

You make some good points. One thing I've always felt was that Illinois never got out in front of the arms race. Rather than be the first one with a fancy locker room, it was the eighth. I think that matters to some recruits.

Illinois needs to consider what the next big draw in college football will be and do it before anyone else in the Big Ten. Not sure what that is. Get some of those smart engineering students to come up with flying car. Just a thought.


Kevin- Clinton wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Bob; Glad your back and hopefully taking things easy..Will Coach Beckman be in trouble with the NCAA for having tobacco on the field and being shown on TV putting chew in his mouth? What could the ramifications be and will Mike Thomas get involved..Thanks..

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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From what I understand, it's a secondary violation. Still, one he should have known about. I'm guessing the athletic director let him know that wasn't cool and it won't happen again.

I'm sorry if he feels he needs that to relieve stress. There are better ways. It did not look good on TV.

JelanieBoline wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Many small high schools will form a co-op with other schools, in order to field a more competitive football team.  Could Illinois look into a similar arrangement?  Missouri is getting pounded in the SEC.  Illinois and Indiana are equally inept in the Big Ten.  If we combine the three schools for the purposes of football, do you think we can be competitive in the Big Ten?





Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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That's a hilarious idea. I'm guessing some schools in the SEC would like to do that if they could get along well enough to make it work.

Missouri has some major problems in its first year in the SEC. You can't lose to Vanderbilt the week before playing Alabama. Yikes.

TheGallopingGhost77 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm


So great to have you back, your insights and opinions were sorely missed by this fan.  I hope you are recovering well, although watching this Illini team play football probably won't do you any favors!  What are your thoughts on the season so far? Did you ever expect it to turn out like this with the defense playing so poorly, the offense staying virtually the same as the 0-6 part of last season, and the special teams still making so many miscues? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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I am stunned by the way Illinois has started. I thought it would compete at Arizona State. And against Louisiana Tech. And against Penn State. Those games should have all been closer. By comparison, the Wisconsin score was more reasonable, although the Badgers aren't blowing the doors off the Big Ten either.

The way Illinois opened against Western Michigan makes it more puzzling. The team looked good in that game and in control. And I think the Broncos are a decent team. But it didn't carry over.

I would like to spend some time around the team to see what's going on mentally. I have to think there is some fracturing among the players. That happens when you lose games you don't think you will lose.

Can they turn it around? A lot will depend on the leadership of the team. If it is strong, there is a chance. But it doesn't look good.


tom wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm

We know this season has been a disaster. But, what's really worrisome is that few believe Beckman will be able to turn this around and will be a short term coach that leaves this program in worse shape than when he came.

What in your opinion are the problems? Will Beckman be able to fix them?

Do you see any reasons for optimism next year or beyond? How long will Thomas and/or the influential friends of the program wait before demanding a change?


Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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The biggest problem to me is that lack of an All-American type playmaker on offense. We now realize how important A.J.. Jenkins was last season and he couldn't even prevent the six-game losing strong.

When you look at great teams across the country, you see two or threee guys who are better than anybody on the other team. That's how you win at a high level.

The reason for optimism next year is that the players who return will be more familiar with the program. This worked at Toledo and it can work here. But, apparently, not the first year.

disappointed 12345 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Hi Bob -

First and foremost, welcome back!  Glad you are back on your feet and feeling better.  Missed your thoughts and writing. 


So no question today, just want to express my (continued) disappointment in the Illini (can't use the word Fighting in front of them).  I used to watch every game religiously.....then I would tape them and watch them later.....then I would tape them and just delete them.....now, I don't even bother.  For the most part, they've broken my heart since I graduated 20 years ago.  They've lost me as a fan.  Beckman and crew are overmatched; shame on the AD for not shooting higher.  Oh well, hang in there buddy, I wish you good health. 

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Thanks for the kind words and the commentary.

Dr. Phil B. wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Bob, glad to have you back. Missed you on Mill Street in Tempe. Keep up the rehab. My questions and comments are as follows:

1. Should the Illini fb fan be surprised by the team's showing? I thought Zook left some very good players; other fans complained that he did not and we should wait for Beckman's own recruits. Nick Saban won a national championship without his recruits in the second year, and Mackovic won here with White's recruits after two previous disappointing seasons, 1986 & '87.

2. Does there seem to be much chirping from the players about the coaches' system? I do not remember this much talk about the offensive and defensive schemes from the players in previous years.

3. Are you aware that at the last home game that parking was not allowed on Pennsylvania Ave. as has been over the last few years? Yet, once the game was started the covers over the meters were pulled to allow parking. It was allowed in the first three home games this year, too. I parked there for the Western Michigan game. Also, free parking is not allowed in places near the livestock barn, as has been the case for the past 10 years. The university is forcing the fans to pay $20 now. Hey, thanks for driving 150 miles to support the team, now kick in some more money. Let's take the fun out of tailgating, Mike Thomas. If we are Michigan or Ohio State with a successful fb tradition, I understand it, but not now.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Dr. Phil,

I think the best coaches work with what they inherit, but sometimes the talent doesn't fit. Maybe that's the case here.

I haven't been around the players much since training camp, but there does seem to be more comments about the system. Maybe they feel like it's OK to talk. I like that they are being honest about it.

Sorry about the parking problems. I''m all for free. I'd suggest parking on the west side of Neil Street. All of that is free.

Marcus wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm


Welcome Back! Know that you were missed!


Are the players understanding what the coaching staff is attempting to do on Offense and Defense?

Are the players buying into the new coaching staff and their system?

Do we have the players to run this system?


Finally, anytime their is a coaching change there will be bumps in the road. I am not overly concerned about the wins and losses this year but more importantly for the long haul. Do you see the changes that are being made with the culture of Illinois Football being the answer for the long haul?

Take care of yourself!



Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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There seems to be some sort of a disconnect between some of the players and what they are trying to do on the field. That can happen when you make a change. Some guys learn quicker than others.Bottom line, the coaches have to get the players ready.

I think there can be a problem when the past system, like the Illinois defense in 2011, was so good. Players talk about it and they might want to do things the old way. The smart players figure out a way to make it work with the new staff. But not everybody can make the transitiion.

I don't think we know for sure if this system will work in the long haul. But it did work at Toledo and continues to work at Toledo. I don't think Tim Beckman forgot how to coach. He simply isn't having the success most expected.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks for all of your questions and kind words. Sorry about those questions we didn't get to.

Have a great week and I'll talk to you next Monday.

Don't forget about the Esquire tonight and free Chicago Bulls tickets.