Nov. 19 Maryland joins Big Ten chat

Nov. 19 Maryland joins Big Ten chat

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 1:00pm

Is Maryland really a good fit? How long will the Illini's losing streak last? Bob Asmussen, our longtime beat writer, has an idea. Ask him anything that's on your brain as he's chatting at 1 p.m. Monday. Submit questions anytime.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Welcome back to another chat. I'll be here for about an hour.

Hope everyone has fun Thanksgiving plans. Enjoy the food and the football.

If you are in Champaign tonight, stop by the Esquire at 5 p.m. for our weekly radio show. Sean Harrington is going to visit.

Enough jibber jabber. Time to get to the questions.

Nick N. wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hey Bob...Do you think the divisions get redrawn as a result of Maryland and Rutgers? Would seem the league might want one of them in each division to give all teams a shot at pulling in east coast recruits? Would also seem from an Ill perspective, this is very positive as they are both potentially beatable opponents vs. say the Nebraska addition? Your initial thoughts? Thanks.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I'm looking forward to the details. I do think splitting up the two makes some sense. Have them be permanent rivals, so you don't lose the annual game.

I don't think the Big Ten is done expanding. I think it will eventually go to 16.

This move doesn't really shock me. When Nebraska was added, Maryland was one of the the schools I thought would make some sense because it provides a new media market.

Rutgers is not really part of the New York market. But if the league wants to tell everybody it is, I'm OK with that. Still, it's a new area.

I've been to Rutgers for a football game. Nothing special. But Maryland looks fun. That's a trip I'll be looking forward to.

Mike123456789 wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Bob -

Are there any positive takeaways from this season from your opinion?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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For Illinois, not really. Sure, there have been a couple discoveries in the freshman class, especially at linebacker. But that could have happened in a winning season, too.

To me, what Illinois needs to do from here is move on quickly. Make the changes in the coaching staff, get a new set of recruits in (including some talented JC kids) and start planning ahead.

I do think Tim Beckman will have learned quite a bit from this season. The key is that he takes what he found out about himself and his program and works to make everything better. A bad idea for him would be to insulate himself and his program. Closed didn't work. Try it a different way and see what happens.

Peoria Jeremy wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

How much of Maryland and Rutgers coming to the Big Ten has to do with building up for a playoff system in football?  It seems like all the power conferences are adding more schools to help their case for a playoff system.  Also I know the Big Ten Network wants to expand into the DC and New York markets, but do you think Rutgers are Maryland are the right schools to do that with?  Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I think football is driving everything. And the playoff is a big part of that. What's going to happen eventually is that the four-team playoff isn't going to be enough. So, you go to eight or 16 and the leagues that are lined up with the best set of teams will benefit This was destined to happen. The SEC isn't done either.

Maryland helps the BTN with D.C./Baltimore. I don't think Rutgers does much in New York. I've been told Syracuse would capture more of the New York market. Maybe that will be the next school.

jhodges wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Bob,

Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten (or should I say the Big Midwest) is so stupid. Most folks are saying the Big Ten went after these to schools because of the TV markets.

The Big Ten should had went after Missouri before they went to the SEC and should had gone after Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas or Kansas State. Why did they not go after these Midwestern Schools? They are much better fits than Maryland and Rutgers.

Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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It's very simple: Count the TV sets. Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri are better programs, but they don't add many additional TV bodies. And that's what this is going to come down to.

I don't think the Big Ten is worried about the current state of the new programs, although Rutgers is doing fine. The assumption is that things will always get better,


Anonymous User wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Please cancel the rest of the Ilinois football games...and if not...why not?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Well, there is only one more game. Might as well get it played. I know Northwestern wants to play to try to get to nine wins.

Illinois needs every chance it can get to improve the program.

Bill Columbus OH wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Inconsistency not that hard to figure out.  Seven straight years of terrible terrible quarterbacking, and no improvement in sight.  #1 Underperformers in the country.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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UCLA had been at the top of that list but the Bruins are off the hook in the Jim Mora era. I wasn't impressed with that hire at the time, but I was wrong. I think his success and Bill O'Brien's shows the value of the pro experience. Don't be surprised if Tennessee goes that direction too (Jon Gruden).

Quarterbacking is critical at any level of football. You have to have the proper combination of talent and fit with the system. That has been a problem for Illinois at times.

Despair wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Was at the game fans are miserable and have no faith in Beckman at all. I know you say no way he is fired at season's end. I see diehard season ticket holders who will not renew due to Beckman and his amatuer staff. Fan morale is really at a all time low IMO and 28,000 will be a good attendance day in 2013.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I think the home games against Wisconsin and Ohio State will keep the crowds up somewhat. But more than anything, Illinois needs to give the fans a reason to care. A win or two early in 2013 would help, but not many believe that will happen.

Illinois will not make a change at the top. It can't. Tim Beckman should and will be given more time. But iit won't be forever. He will need to show progress next season and be winning again in 2014.

Anonymous User wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I have been taken back this week with all of the talk about game preparations, who calls the plays - one OC on 1st and 2nd down, the other on 3rd down, etc.  I think this says a lot about IL's problems.  The games are so scripted that it doesn't seem anyone can adjust on the fly.  The coaches have to see what we do and know the plays that just aren't working.  Why can't they make adjustments during the game?  Not only are the Illini not winning, they are BORING to watch.  We are season ticket holders and have attended one (1) game.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Thanks for the comments. The struggles on offense seem to have drawn the most attention this season. Without being in the meetings, we can't tell exactly what's going on. But we know it isn't working.

The temptation is to blame the players and they get some of it. But the coaches also are at fault.

Anonymous User wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Bob, the season will result in at least nine losses: possibly ten. How do we sell tickets and recruits next year? Is it "c'mon down and play for High School Harry, just watch out for the tobacco juice?" Or is it the old lasagna ploy? If we do lose half the staff of assistant coaches, how much of a hit does that make in relations with the (real) high school coaches?

What do you do to sell tickets to the same people who were told three months ago that this staff was the people who were going to lead us to football glory? "Well, our NEW group of assistants is even smarter, those other people were a mistake: sorry about that 2012 season"??

You believe that Nebraska will sell tickets once they are scheduled in Champaign. Of Rutgers or Maryland, which one do you think sells more tickets in Central Illinois? Because one of those two will be playing here just as often.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I think Maryland will sell a few more tickets than Rutgers, but neither will sell that many. Neither has the fan base like Nebraska, which will take every extra ticket when it plays here in 2014.

I don't think Illinois will travel well to either of those two schools either. It will be interesting to run into Mike Locksley again at Maryland.

Bob E. Lee wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I realize that most of the questions and answers will be from an athletics perspective but the Big 10 is actually home to some pretty heady academic statistics.  That was the argument against Missouri a few years ago when Nebraska came on board.  So how does Maryland and Rutgers stack up against the rest of the Big 10 in academics?  


Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I'm going to defer to my wife, Julie Wurth, who covers the academic side of Illinois for The News-Gazette. I will check with her about Maryland/Rutgers and report back next week.


Anonymous User wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

One further question. Derek Dooley was fired today & Joker Phillips is already gone: do you agree or disagree with the people who say that firing a coach during the season will simply kill recruiting for that year? Other schools seem to do it on a regular basis, but apparently canning Zook last year was simply out of the question until the end of the year.

Phillips is a Kentucky graduate: does the fact that a coach is an alum of the school give him more time to turn a program around? FWIW, both of these two were in the middle of their third season when they were fired.


Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I don't think firing a coach with one game left makes a big difference. And at Illinois last year, you had to give Ron Zook a chance to turn his team around. For the sake of the players, waiting was a wise choice.

Both Dooley and Phillips seemed to be beyond the point of turning it around. While that might happen at Illinois with Tim Beckman, he isn't there yet.


steve from Litchfield wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

We have been season ticket holders for 22 years. Fans for longer. We have watched

some really bad football, and some  pretty good football.  This is the WORST. They

can't do anything well. Fumble way too much. Stupid penalties. You say there is

little talent, but it doesnt take talent to hold onto the ball. I realize it would  be rare, but

Thomas needs  to cut ties with Beckman saturday about 4 pm.  Notre Dame realized

early on they had made a mistake with Winningham. They were proven correct when

he failed at Washington as well.  Why on earth give this guy another year?


Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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If the same approach had been taken with Ron Turner and Ron Zook, Illinois would have missed on a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl. I just don't think you can base everything on one brutal year. You have to let Tim Beckman get his program established. Yes, it took giant steps backward, but you have to allow it to play out.

Notre Dame is a different animal in football. The patience there is paper thin.

Bill in CA wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Can you tell us how we compare to the rest of the Big Ten in how much we spend on our assistant football coaches? And particularly what do our coordinators make compared to the salaries of other Coordinators in the Big Ten? My guess is that the current staff salaries rank about 8-9 or 10, or lower, and this IS an area where you get what you pay for. And if our major contributors want to gripe, maybe we should start a "coaches fund" just for them.

We always seem to have to go begging for good coaches. Until we pay top dollar for assistants we won't get top coaches and we won't win.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I believe the salaries have gone up. I think Illinois is in the middle. I will do a study during the winter and get an actual number for you. Paul Petrino was among the highest paid coordinators in the conference and I think the new guys are being paid well.

Illinois has to pay a reasonable amount to bring in the best people. I think Mike Thomas understands that.

Anonymous User wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Why havent we seen otoole? We have the worst offense in college football yet we still run out the same qb. Otoole was the qb the last time we won. Is he planning on transfering? I mean why would he stay knowing he isnt going to get a chance even if we lose every game and never score a touchdown

Dave C. wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm


Is it time to give Relly O'Toole a chance? Nathan gives us an edge with his running ability but he has been off the mark far too often passing. I think we could have won both of the last two games with more accurate pasing. Scheelhause is throwing behind recievers both downfield and across the middle and flatout missing wide open guys, One was a clear touchdown against Minn. That was about a 15 yarder, We have to be able complete a high percentage of passes. Didn't O'Toole set a record in game 2. I know that was a much easier team but when people were open he laid it in there. I think they've waitrd too long. At lease do like Northwestern and use them both with Scheelhause at some reciever and or running back.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I was a bit surprised O'Toole didn't play against Purdue. And I think you might see him this week.

But I don't think quarterbacking is the major issue. Protection and ability of the receivers to get open and catch passes is the bigger deal.

Still, something different is probably worth a try. Maybe at Northwestern.

Gib Brysal wrote on November 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm


Will Illinois go winless this Big Ten season? Can Tim Beckman be docked pay for that abysmal performance? Since Illinois still is paying Ron Zook, can't they just send Beckman home and bring back Zook for a year or two? I'm kidding but now we are paying two coaches for doing nothing (Beckman & Zook). Just money down the drain while Illinois are worst team in B1G.

I don't see Beckman ever getting this team better. He flat out can't coach Bob. He'll fire or allow assistants to leave, get some new ones but the team will remain the worst in Big Ten.

How soon would Thomas make a move again and get a coach that can actually coach?

Illinois will have a long, steep mountain to climb from rock bottom to the top echelon and I can guarantee you it won't be with Beckman unless he can bring in talent like Koenning and Malzahn and stay out of their way. From what we have seen, Beckman's tinkering in the defense or offense only makes matters worse just like the Zooker. Trouble is his assistants are not up to their jobs either and Beckman will never persuade decent coaches to work for him at Illinois. Seems everyone knows Beckman's stay here will be brief.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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Thanks for the comments. I think you have to give the guy another two years. Maybe it won't work, but it if does work, you save starting over again.

I do think there will be severe changes in the offseason. Across the board. And I think the head coach will look to make improvements beyond the staff.

The spring and summer will be interesting.

Dr. Phil B. wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Bob, it was another nice day on Saturday. I hope you enjoyed it. My questions and comments are as follows:

1. I am quoting you from last week's chat: "Tom Lemming saw him a year ago and said he (Nathan) is growing into the size of a kid who will have a chance . I am going to take Tom's word for it." This is reference to Scheelhasse going to the pros as a qb. Bob, does Scheelhasse pass the eye test for being a pro qb? Nope. He is an option qb stuck in a something-spread offense, with little arm strength. I admire his tenacity, but he needs to be moved to another position or into another offense. Don't forget that Lemming, by his own admission, over-rated Notre Dame prospects during the Charlie Weis years, so take what he says with a "grain of salt."

2. Another Bob quote in reference to Beckman is as follows: " Growing up the child of a coach gives him a huge advantage." You are darn right! Based on what I have seen as a head coach and his stats as d-coordinator, he never would have been hired without his dad's friends in Ohio. It is harsh, but I do not put too much stock in being a coach's son. If he was so good,he should have been hired as a head coach much earlier, not in his mid-40's. I do not believe that Beckman will be successful here. If Wisconsin can fire its o-line coach after one game, Illinois could fire Beckman after one season.

3. Did he learn from his father, Urban Meyer, or Gundy to have two different offensive coordinators call plays? One of the inane things I ever heard in relation to football. Why did we just find out last week that Beckman had this set-up?

4. I am a glutton for punishment because I may be going to the Northwestern game with my son. The "reverse the curse" did not work last week as I had borrowed a Purdue hat from my neighbor. So, Bob, what Illini wear should I have on at the game? Suspenders?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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Dr. Phil.

Thanks for your well thought out questions/comments.

Tom Lemming is a very good talent evaluator. I know he isn't always right, but I like his opinions.

I'm not sure when the offensive setup came into being or why we didn't know. But it happens when you have a program that operates somewhat behind closed doors. Openness is good.

Just where Chicago Bears or Bulls stuff to the game. See what happens. I wouldn't wear purple. Few of us can pull off purple.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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I'm going to cut it off tor today. Have a great Turkey week. Talk to you next Monday.