Nov. 26 Asmussen football chat

Nov. 26 Asmussen football chat

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 1:00pm

So what does Illinois do next? Fire Beckman? Can his assistants? Stand pat? Ask beat writer Bob Asmussen, who is chatting at 1 p.m. Submit questions any time.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Welcome back to another chat. Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving.

If you are in Champaign tonight at 5, stop by the Esquire for our weekly radio show.

Enough stalling. Time to get to the questions.

GO wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Beckman has to go! Firing coaches he hired is nothing, but a band aid to the bigger problem. Beckman is so far out of his league it is a joke he was EVER hired! I and many others will not return to a game until Beckman is gone!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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But what do you really think?

Obviously, it was a disaster season. Unexpected given two consecutive bowl bids. Certainly, not what Mike Thomas wanted in the first year of his new football coach. But there won't be a firing. And there shouldn't be a firing. You have to give the guy more time than a year. I suspect there will be significant changes in the program.

As for you going to the games, that is your right as a consumer/fan. And I support whatever you want to do. If I was a fan of the Miami Marlins, for example, I would not go to any more games until ownership had changed. But I will say if going to Illinois games is part of your fall, you might want to consider hanging in there. Again, your choice.

BrianA wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm


I dont ask this question lightly as I know it affects peoples lives and that is serious, that said they choose the profession they are in. So I ask, how many coaching changes do you think will be made after this season?  I think it was clear this staff never really "gelled".

I am assuming if/when changes are made they will be done as quick as possible so Beckman can start looking for the replacements and the coaches can look for a new job.

Is it safe to say there will not be co-cordinators on offense next year? Have never understood how that can work especially how it was set up this year with one guy calling first and second down and the other calling third down


Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I think the number will be as few as two and as high as five. But the only one who really knows is Tim Beckman. And right now, I assume he is evaluating everything to do with the program, including his staff.

The moves would need to be made quickly for many reasons, starting with recruiting. You can't have people working for you who won't be on the staff a month from now. So, I think the changes will be in the next week or two.

I think Tim Beckman could go a multiple of directions will all of his staffing. Don't be surprised if the co-coordinator situation stays in place. You just can't know for sure.

Drew wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

So I'm not one th throw in the cards right away but with the debacle we've had this year, Beckman has a lot of work to do next year.  

Sideline penalties and llegal Numbering penalty is the case and point.

What do you think needs to be done to improve on this season and get Illinois back to being a competitive program.  I'm not asking national championship but to at least be in the game in the 4th Quarter.



Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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First thing I would do is find the things you did right and emphasize them over and over. Dwell on the positive and quickly try to put the negative behind you.

I would welcome my players to offer advice on how to make things better. Communication always helps. I would be open to suggestions that might seem counter to what you believe. Open-mindedness can be a key to a turnaround.

And I would also get some help. Junior college players, transfers, high-impact freshmen. Let them all know playing time is available and the spring will be an open audition.

You can turn a program in a year if you make some good decisions. The next couple months are critical for Illinois.

Kendall wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Bob;

In year one, Ron Turner went 0-11 and was outscored 119 to 368.  Ron Zook was 2-9 and outscored 187 to 435.  Tim Beckman is 2-10 and outscored 200-385.  As poor as this year's offense was, they managed to outscore both of those teams, although 44 came in one game.  Is what happened this year really any worse than the last two coaching changes?  Does everyone just need to chill out and give this some time?  I know loss of fans at the games means loss of revenue.  Will that be the driving force behind everything?





Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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You make a great point. The difference is the expectation level. Ron Turner and Ron Zook inherited two- and three-win teams. Tim Beckman inherited a seven-win team. In hindsight, the 2011 Illini were every bit as disfunctional as the 1996 and 2004 versions. But they won a bowl game and they played well at times.

If in two years Tim Beckman has fixed Illinois, we are going to look back and realize that this was the transition season he needed. Maybe it wasn't expected, but it can happen.

The problem for Beckman is you have guys like Kevin Sumlin winning at a high level in his first year. Is it fair to compare? Probably not, but it is the reality of sports.

still a fan wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Bob, I am not in favor of firing the head coach after one year. However, as bad as this season has gone, if Mike Thomas does not feel like Tim Beckman is going to be able to turn this thing around after his evaluation, should he part ways now or still give him another year to see what he can do?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I'm guessing Mike Thomas has not reached the opinion that Tim Beckman can't get it done. And I think Beckman will get at least two more years to try and fix the program.

Illinois wasn't a power when Beckman came in. It had flaws. Sometimes, you take a step or two backward to go forward. But he's got to feel right about his staff. That should be his first priority.

One things fans don't want to hear from Tim Beckman is excuses. And I don't think he will give any.. I think he needs to plow ahead and be positive at every turn.

Anonymous User wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Who is the starting quarterback next year? I hate how O'Toole plays, I'm sorry, but maybe let bailey have it? Does O'Toole transfer? Scheelhaase is the senior?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I think the answer to that question depends on who is the offensive coordinator. If there is a change and the new coordinator runs a system that favors Scheelhaase's skills, then he will be the starter. He is one of the most prolific quarterbacks in school history and I don't think he will be taken off the field easily,

But I do think there are circumstances where a change could be made. I don't see Aaron Bailey being the starter as a freshman, but you can never say never. Or maybe another quarterback is signed or transfers like Russell Wilson. I think there are mutliple options.

Neale Stoner wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Bob--hope of the end of this season will allow you to complete your recovery stress free. Where is Houston Bates? Obvious understatement--we'll need him next year.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I will check on Houston. I assume he is on the road to recovery and will be available to the team in 2013. He was missed. You can't have too many good players.


Shamous wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm


It's being reported up here in Chicago that ending the Beckman era is being given serious consideration in Champaign.  Apparently the sticking point is that boosters are demanding that a replacement be in place before firing Beckman. 

I also believe that the silence is deafening.  If Thomas knew for certain that Tim Beckman was going to be back in 2013, he would have said so publicly by now.  Beckman needs that vote of confidence to recruit players and coaches.  We've heard nothing.

Couple of questions for you.  If you were AD, would you retain Beckman?  Based on all we've seen this year, I can't find a way to convince myself he's intellectually capable of turning this around.

Second, how much does an incident like this, where the AD is clearly considering firing his head coach hurt their future working relationship?  Can they rebound from this? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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I would caution you to not believe everything you read or hear. I, for instance, am not a French model.

There is no reason for Mike Thomas to issue any statement. Actually, issuing a statement would be a bad thing because it would imply that he gave firing some consideration. And I don't believe that's the case,

I would not fire Tim Beckman. I would give him full support to make the changes he wants to make and I would get out of his way.

If the AD hasn't actually considered dismissing the coach, then there is no damage. The rumors are just that at this point.

Dave C. wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm


Any word on how the JC recruiting is going? This team needs help!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Nothing specific, but I know the effort is there. And I think you will hear very soon because a lot of those JC players will enroll at the semester. Having them here in the spring is criticial.

Rob from Geneva wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm


I'm glad you're health is doing better. Thanks for all your hard work and excellent Illini football coverage. I was watching UW @ PSW Saturday, and trying to pull for PSU. But then the snow started falling and it reminded me of the Illini game out there last year, and their students throwning snowballs during Demke's kick at the end. Nope, I couldn't root for them. Here's my question: How come they can have all those banners near their student section? Doesn't the B1G have a no banners in the stadium rule?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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That's a great question and I don't know the answer. But I will get it and report back to you next week.

I admire the way the Penn State team has stuck together. Winning eight games is a miracle. But if Bill O'Brien leaves for the NFL, it will be another sad story. Hope that doesn't happen.

Dan Bloeme wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Good Monday Bob,

Heard that Tim Beckman has a rather low buyout of $200K/yr left on contract. Seeing as Illinois stands to lose at least 14,000 paying fans per game if Beckman continues his clown show at Illinois, that alone would pay the $200k buyout at $15 per each of the 14,000.

I know you said no way does Beckman get fired after one year. Never say never. There is a first for everything and any administrator would be foolish to lose hundreds of thousands more as the program falls to rock bottom. There is no sign that next year will be better, all signs (including schedule and departing talent) point to Illinois' record being worse yet.

The decision on Beckman to me hinges on Mike Thomas' big ego. Will he have the guts to say he was wrong and made a monumental blunder? There is no improvement in the Illini this year, not a single area of the game where they got better, nothing to hang a hat on going forward. The whole nation knows Beckman is an abject failure. Time Thomas acknoledges that too.



Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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The buyout is actually $400,000 per year for Tim Beckman. So, that number is a bit harder to reach with the loss in ticket revenue.

While I believe there will be a dropoff in sales next season. I don''t think that alone is why you remove a coach. Bottom line for Illinois is that hiring a coach after firing a one-year guy would be very difficult. Who wants to work under those circumstances?

dennis bialas wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Your the Illinois coach after your first season, albeit a miserable one. What course do you chart out to get things going in the right direction? What do you think Beckman will do? Also Beckman said his coaches wil be out recruiting come Monday. At this point is there some advantage to having to be able to have your whole staff out scouring the areas for players rather than preparing for a minor bowl game?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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There is a huge advantage to being out now, although you would rather it not be coming off a 2-10 season. And one of your recruiting rivals, Purdue, doesn't have a coach. Illinois will also be able to gain some from that.

I think Tim Beckman has to do everything he can to stay position. Dwell on the opportunity to play early at Illinois and don't complain about anything. The main thing I would do is get my returning players together and make sure they understand that it will change soon.

Staff changes will need to happen quickly, if there are to be any. Otherwise, you lose some of the recruiting advantage you get from a fast start.

Toosday wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Looking at the three questions you pose, I would argue that standing pat or canning everyone is a better option than just firing the assistants.  This would be a bad situation for a new coach but an extremely bad situation for new assistants.  I would really question who, as an assistant, would make the decision to come here.  Would you agree?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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Most football coaches I've dealt with are confident in their abilities. So, they don't let what happened to past assistants have a major part in their decision to join a program. That being said. I do think guys also look for security and I don't believe that is strong at Illinois. Anybody who signs up knows it will have to be turned in a hurry.

There are also some quality guys out there looking for work, including the staffs at Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Colorado, etc. If you act now, you can hire some great assistants.

JCD wrote on November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Possible to hire the Rochester Coach as O coordinator? I know, it goes against the College mindset   

that a HS coach can step right in and be successful, but, really what do they have to lose?

He runs an imaginative offense.

As for attending games...i saw my first FB game as a 6 year old. Missed some, but not many since.

It's what we do on Saturday in the Fall. So no matter what the score or record, we will attend and support

these kids who don't like to lose any more than we do!!

Bob, thanks for all you do and glad you're back!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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Derek Leonard is a brilliant coach. I would hire him in a second. Remember, Gus Malzahn gained his notoriety as a high school coach.

I think talent is talent no matter what the level. And Derek Leonard has talent. Plus, he would help in recruiting.

Frank in Oswego wrote on November 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Bob, with what we've seen on the field this year, how do you think attendance will look next year? I see a big drop in season tickets, in addition to luxury seats that were signed up for 5-year terms in 2008. I suppose visiting fans will help, but how do you think that will shape up for next year?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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I think it will be similar to this year because Wisconsin and Ohio State visit C-U. That will prop up the crowds. I assume Buckeye fans are going to go all over the place to see their rising power and C-U is an easy drive from Ohio.

The tricky part for Illinois will be keeping the students coming to games. I think that will take an all-out spring and summer effort.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm
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Sorry to do this, but I've got to cut the chat off for today. Sorry about all the questions I didn't get to.

A programming note, next week's chat will be on Tuesday instead of Monday. Just for one week.

Have a great week.