Ask beat writer Bob Asmussen about his bowl picks (hint: they're wrong), Tim Beckman's incoming recruits and Nathan Scheelhaase's future. He's chatting at 1 p.m. Monday but submit questions any time.
Welcome back to another football chat. The bowl season is off to a great start. Can't wait for the final 33 games.
A programming note: We will skip next Monday's chat in observance of Christmas Eve and so my family doesn't get angry. I will return on Dec. 31 to answer your bowl questions.
If you are in downtown Champaign tonight, come to our radio show at The Esquire. It starts at 5 p.m.
Time to get to the questions.
Does it normally take this long (3 weeks and counting) to make changes with the football coaching staff (under Beckman)? What are other schools (who aren't going to bowl games) doing, are they shuffling the decks or standing pat with their assistants?
Or does it look like Beckman will keep the same group of coaches next year? It just seems strange to have coaches out recruiting when there is a possibility they might not be part of next year's team,... so it seems like maybe we're going to stick with the same crew?
I still think changes are coming. But I think Tim Beckman is using a tactic other head coaches have used in the past, allowing the coaches who are on the way out a chance to find other jobs. As we all know, it is easier to find work when you already have a job.
Illinois hasn't scheduled any press conferences to announce coaching changes. At this point, I think it will happen after the holidays. The recruiting calendar shuts down during the bowl season, so there isn't any harm in waiting a week or two to make changes.
If I had to guess, I would say Tim Beckman has replacements in mind if he is going to make changes.
It appears that within a couple of years there will be roughly 127 Division I FBS teams. Of those Army and Navy at least are independent with Notre Dame in the middle. My math tells me that 8 times 16 is 128. It appears one or more conferences may be disappearing (Big East?) in football and at least two others have weaknesses in their membership and/or financil situation (Big 12 and ACC). Not sure about the mid-majors.
My question is whether the conference makeups could continue to change toward 8 "mega" conferences of roughly 16 teams? The champions of each conference could then enter into an expanded FBS playoff system of 8 teams from the currently planned 4 teams.
It would seem like you have the option of 4 major conferences and 4 mid-major confernces with some realignment. First round playoffs might occur at four major conference schools where capacity is probably higher in the stadiums or at neutral major stadiums. The resulting four teams could be handled as now planned in 2014.
Which conferences do you see the most likely to be absorbed into other conferences if something like this happens and what do you see as the likelihood for something like this?
I think we are looking at four 16-team power conferences: Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12. I think the ACC will fall apart with the Big Ten and SEC picking off many of the schools. I keep hearing Georgia Tech and North Carolina to the Big Ten and I think that makes some sense.
Ultimately, we are going to have about 80 schools playing major college football. The remaining schools (MAC, Mountain West, etc.) will continue to play in bowl games and have an outside shot at the playoffs, which I think will expand to at least eight teams and probably move to 16.
Is this best for college sports? Probably not. Basketball and every other sport is being treated like a second-class citizen. Not sure how it happened, but I think television had almost everything to do with it. Plus, college football is off the charts in terms of popularity.
I do want an expanded playoff. I think the four-team version is going to be problematic.
I have read comments on how the breakup of the Big East could lead to Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Notre Dame joining the ACC earlier than first expected. What about Rutgers? Any chance they join the Big 10 sooner or will they have to wait for Maryland? Maybe Maryland is let go earlier by the ACC if Pittsburgh and Syracuse are coming sooner. Have you heard anything?
It's too early to tell what's going to happen, but the established schedules will make it difficult for the Big Ten to add Rutgers and Maryland early. Not impossible, but difficult.
Once you announce you are leaving a conference, getting out sooner rather than later is always preferred. I know Nebraska had an uncomfortable final season in the Big 12. One year in limbo is plenty.
I think the Big Ten will do what it can to move things along. But I also think there are more schools coming and that might change the process again.
how many scholarships we will have
The number I keep hearing is 29. If that isn't the exact number, it's close. Illinois is able to count some of the January enrollees as part of the 2012 class. That's a nice thing for a school in Illinois' situation.
Having a handful of January enrollees should spice up spring practice and make for a more competitive summer at Illinois.
Going into camp next year do you announce to the team all positions are open to win, especially after this year? Shouldn't your QB position be open to all even a freshman? The most unsettled and key position has to be both sides of the line. Any younger players you think could contribute sooner rather than later here? Also any chance Beckman pulls off one late recruiting surprise like Zook did for a few times?
I do think all positions will be open, including quarterback. After 2-10, how could you do anything else?
I think some of the young defensive linemen Tim Beckman brought in his first year will have a chance to make a major impact in 2013. That's a place where there are all sorts of openings.
The one thing Tim Beckman can sell to star recruits is the chance to play immediately. I won't be a bit surprised if he lands a big fish or two in the final weeks of recruiting. I know the effort is being made.
Players are very smart about recruiting now. They know what is going on with most teams and will be looking for a place that suits them, but also a place that has a chance to win soon.
I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks for the questions and I'll talk to you on Dec. 31.
If you have anything between now and then, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to get back to you ASAP.
Hope everybody has a great holiday/bowl season. And I hope you get all the presents you want.