Jan. 14 Asmussen football chat

Jan. 14 Asmussen football chat

Monday, January 14, 2013 - 1:00pm

College football beat writer Bob Asmussen, who has Ohio State winning it all and Ron Turner winning Coach of the Year in his conference next season, takes your questions at 1 p.m. every Monday. Submit them any time.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Welcome back to another football chat. I'm going to get started a few minutes early. Hope that's OK with everyone.

Recruiting is just around the corner and Illinois is about to hire an offensive coordinator. Never a dull moment.

Enough stalling, time to get to the questions.

Mr. Cub wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

why did luke butkus depart?

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Mr. Cub,

I think the primary reason was the chance to work with Ron Turner, who was his college coach and a major influence on his career choice.

Hiring Butkus made great sense for Ron Turner, who can turn him loose on recruiting in southern Florida. And I think being around Turner will enhance Butkus as a coach. Turner has great knowledge about offenses, from the line to the quarterbacks to the receivers. The time Butkus spends around him will make him a better coach.

I know Luke was thrilled when he got hired at Illinois, but it didn't work out. Maybe staying under Bill Cubit would have been a nice option for Butkus, but he had the opportunity to join a coach he admires and took that opportunity. Plus, stepping outside today in C-U, there are worse places to live than Florida.


Bunny wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Bob, will Beckman be the Illinois Head football coach in 5 years?

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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Well, he is under contract for at least the next four, so I would say that would be the plan on Illinois' part.

The last thing Mike Thomas wants to do is turn over the football position every three or four years. That is a recipe for football disaster. Now, if the team continues to struggle and can't win more than two or three games a season, changes will be made.

I think the addition of Bill Cubit to the staff strengthens Tim Beckman's opportunity to have a long career at Illinois. And I anticipate the team winning more than two games in 2013. But to be here five years from now, Beckman needs to be in bowl games sooner rather than later. And he's got to compete against the top teams in his division.


roach wrote on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

So was Luke pushed or did he jump.  If he jumped, why?  Fearful of future?  Wanted pro system vs spread?

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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There were rumors out there about coaches who might move on and Butkus was among those on the list. When the offense failed like it did, changes were going to be made. Chris Beatty said so at the time of his dismissal.

When Beatty was let go, it had to add a bit of uneasiness for all of the other offensive coaches. So, when an opportunity came to work with a coach he admired, Butkus took it. I think that was smart. But I don't think we know if he was going to be dismissed. I'm going to assume the answer to that is no.


Jim From Mis-ery wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Bob:   Quick fire.......Do you have any feeling about the damage that might occur with the FB recruits as a result of the coaching changes? Have you had a look at the kids already on campus......any surprises? If I come to the Esquire some Monday, can I get you to sign my copy of your recent book (great read)? Are you following your Drs. advice?.... because we really appreciate your reporting!  

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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I think recruiting would have been part of Tim Beckman's consideration when he made changes, so I don't think it will be heavy damage. But Illinois is in a difficult situation because of the 2-10 season, so no recruits are in the fold until they actually sign.

I haven't seen any of the new players, but hope to in the coming weeks. I've heard good things.

I will sign anything you bring me, though that will devalue the book. I appreciate the kind words.

I am following my doctors' advice. I have five of them now. I had none before. My advice to everyone out there is get yourself checked out, especially if you aren't feeling well. I'm lucky to have survived my own stubborness/stupidity.

Tom Bloomington wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

So why did Luke Butkus leave?

Was it because of:

1. Given the poor play of the O line this year he was nudged out by Tim Beckman. (wouldn't fire him but encouraged him to look elsewhere).


2. Mark did not get along with Beckman and saw the program as a sinking ship. He was looking for a life raft and found one with Turner who threw him a line. Having played for him/prior relationship was helpful too.

3. More money?


Because of the O-line struggles this year I wondered about the Butkus situation. But either way it doesn't look good when former player and nephew of a legend resigns from his "dream school" as he said when first hired.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Certainly, the offensive line struggled. But there were several factors, including a string of injuries that made it impossible to keep the same group together. Luke would get some of the blame for the way the group struggled, but I don't know that any line coach could have kept that thing together.

I know Luke was excited to come here. I don't think he would have viewed it as a sinking ship. And I don't think he was pushed out. But I know that the offensive staff struggled last season and that changes were needed. It will look a lot better with Bill Cubit in charge and I think he would have been fine with Luke on the staff.

From what I understand, Luke isn't getting a raise to go work with Ron Turner. But he is getting a job promotion, which helps in his long-term goals.

Not in the know wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

What can you tell about the departure of Luke Butkus?  Was he pushed out or did Beckman want him to stay?  FIU is not a step up, but working for Ron Turner is a step up and also probably more stable.  Did the hiring of Cubit as offensive coordinator play a role?

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Not in the know,

I'm glad to see all the Luke Butkus questions. When he was a player, he was one of my all-time favorites in terms of personality. And as a coach that didn't change. I think people have strong feelings for him, which is a good thing.

I don't think Bill Cubit's pending hire as offensive coordinator had anything to do with Luke's departure. I think they would have worked well together. Bottom line for Butkus was the chance to work with the guy he considers his strongest mentor.


West Coast Illini Fan wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Tell us about the hiring of Cubit as offensive coordinator, assuming that happens.  Here's my take:

Pros:  Head coach, experienced, will add much needed adult oversight and competence to offense, ran some decent offenses, how much better could Illinois have done in terms of hiring?

Cons:  Fired from a MAC program, won't stay long if he has any success

Is he a good recruiter?



Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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West Coast Illini Fan,

I think you hit on good points with both your pros and cons. He walked into a difficult situation at Western Michigan and had some success. But three bowl games weren't enough. Something was missing for the Broncos. Maybe defense. Maybe lack of consistency. But I think he is a quality coach with a very good offensive mind.

And I wouldn't assume he will leave if he has success at Illilnois. First, he is going to be paid pretty well, though we haven't heard the numbers yet. To leave for a head coaching position would likely mean a league a step above the MAC. With few exceptions, Illinois can pay its offensive coordinator about the same as a head coach in the MAC. And I think Tim Beckman will allow Bill Cubit to have freedom to do what he wants with the offense.

I'm not sure about Cubit as a recruiter. He had good players at Western Michigan, which can't be an easy place to recruit. I think he will help sell some potential Illinois recruits on the chance to play in a throwing offense. That might be his strength when it comes to luring players.

Peoria Jeremy wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Knowing stats aren't the only measuring stick when it comes to QBs, what kind of numbers do you think Bailey will put up during his career at the U of I?  Also, where does Bailey rank on the hype meter compared to some of the QBs of past years?  Thanks for the chats, it gives me something to look forward to on these chilly Monday afternoons! 

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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Peoria Jeremy,

The assumption about Aaron Bailey is that he is a runner first. And that might have been the case in high school. But his coach at Bolingbrook said he can make all the throws necessary for a Big Ten quarterback. He has seen him grow into the quarterback position.

At the time he made the commitment, Bailey was considered among the top quarterbacks in the Midwest. Some of that hype might have worn off. But I think he is a talent.

If he fits with the offense that Bill Cubit plans to run, I think Bailey can be a prolific passer who also provides defenses with a problem because of his running ability. The question is how long will it take Bailey to get ready for college football. He's a good kid who will work hard and listen to the coaches. That's a good starting point.

dennis bialas wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

After reading and hearing how glad Luke Butkus was to be back at his alma mater why do you just quit? Was it mutual between him and the head coach, or is he just looking to expand his resume? Kind of like I have to leave for now, so I can come back again in the future or what? I know he is much younger than Tim Beckman, and would seem to have more coaching years in front of him. I assume he would aspire to be a head coach sometime, where better than his alma mater? Also have you heard any mentions for head coach for Michigan assistant Jeff Hecklinski. He is a great recruiter with an offensive background. I know he was a highly touted prep QB from Palatine who was only here a year before transferring. Does he harbor any resentment for Illinois or could he be a future option here. I'm not complaining just thinking about the future.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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I don't think leaving now hurts Luke's opportunity to return in the future. He is expanding his knowledge of the game and working with a person he greatly admires. I don't think anyone at Illinois holds anything against him for leaving for this job. Plus, he got a job promotion. We all look to better ourselves when the opportunity happens.

I do think Luke wants to someday be a head coach and this will help that pursuit.

I've always thought highly of Jeff Hecklinski. He has great feelings for Illinois and I think would return if he had the opportunity. He has a great situation now, but I'm guessing would like to be a head coach. He has done a very good job over the years as a recruiter.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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I'm going to end the chat for today. Sorry for any questions we didn't get to.

I'll be back next Monday. If you have anything during the week, you can always email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

Thanks and have a great week.