College football beat writer Bob Asmussen chats online at 1 p.m. Mondays. Submit questions any time.
Welcome back to another chat.. Hope everybody had a good weekend. The Super Bowl was fun.
For your planning purposes, we will be having a signing day chat starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday with News-Gazette staff writer and recruiting guru Matt Daniels. Matt has a nice story coming Wednesday on Peoria Richwoods running back Kendrick Foster.
Enough jibber-jabber, let's go to the questions.
Were the published rankings of the recruiting classes issued before the defections in commitments to the Illinois program?
Those ratings are constantly updated. So, if Illinois or any other school loses a player that should be refllected in the overall ratings.
For what it's worth, I don't really have a lot of faith in the overall ratings. It is a guess. I think the better way to judge a class is to see where it is three years after signing day. If most of the players are still there and contributing. then the class was a success. One of Ron Zook's best classes at Illinois ended up losing a huge amount of players.
Do you feel that the addition of veteran coaches such as Cubit and Bridge will have a positive impact this upcoming season? In hind sight do you think Beckman would have been better going this route to begin with? What areas do these new coaches open up for recruiting if any? Also saw on a web sight that the idea of a new mascot is being bandied about on campus. Any truth to that? Chief Illinwek always seemed to be a revered icon and have been told this by several sudents. Are we going the way of Marquette, St.Johns, and Stanford or what?
I think Tim Beckman's first choice for offensive coordinator at Illinois in 2012 was to bring Matt Campbell with him from Toledo. But the school beat him to the punch and hired him as head coach.
I do think Bill Cubit was a smart choice for this team, but he wasn't available in 2012. Beckman tried something else and it didn't work. In hindsight, maybe different choices would have changed the outcome of the season. But the players are part of the equation too and that wouldn't have changed no matter who was hired.
I know that Bill Cubit has done a lot of recruiting in Florida and that will continue. He certainly knows coaches and programs in the state that will be new to Illinois. And I have to think Coach Bridge will bring some new recruiting opportunities too. Don't forget, there is still a defensive line coach to hire and that will be another possible recruiting plus.
I haven't heard anything about a new mascot at Illinois. To do that, I think you would have to change the nickname and I don't see that happening. Once the decision was made to retire Chief Illiniwek, the idea of a mascot became possible. From a marketing standpoint, it might be a good thing. It's easier to sell T-shirts and mugs with a cute animal on it than it is a giant I. I think Bucky Badger is popular that way. But any mascot will be a hard sell at Illinois because of the feelings toward the Chief. Over time, those feelings might change and maybe that creates a window to try something new,
Hey Bob...Looking at the schedule for next year, it looks relatively brutal with Cinci and Washington on the nonconference slate and the two most winnable B10 games (Ind and Purdue) being on the road. My question is if Illinois goes 2-10 again, but is more competitive next year in terms of being in games, do you think that would be enough for Beckman to be kept or would they need to find some way to get to about 4 wins? Thanks.
I think you hit on the key word: competitive. You can't get beat by 30 for two years and expect to have job security. The patience has dwindled for teams like that,
You are also right about the schedule. Cincinnati and Washington will be very difficult for Illinois and don't discount Miami of Ohio. That program will be better this year, too.
The conference schedule also adds some challenges with a trip to Nebraska and Michigan State back on. It is probably a good year to miss Michigan, but not a good time to have Iowa off the schedule.
The team will be watched closely by Mike Thomas and the school administration. But understand that he doesn't want to make a change in football. Starting over will delay the recovery.
With a couple spots still available what is your wishlist of signees to this years class?
Of the current signees who do you feel will make an impact next season?
Do you think Beckmon can get another steal for this like he did in getting DE Paul James III?
Then how's this for a wishlist, OT Denver Kirkland Miami, Fla.; ATH Adrian Baker Hollywood, Fla. or ATH Ryan Timmons Frankfort, Ky.; and OLB Reggie Spearman Chicago.
I know its only been a couple weeks, but curious to know how the early enrollees are adjusting to college life so far.........
I think linebacker would be one spot where an addition might help. And any kind of playmaking receiver, though that position has been addressed pretty well.
The five junior college transfers will be the first ones to watch in terms of early playing time. Then, among the freshmen, look to the skiil positions like receiver and running back. Both Marchie Murdock and Dionte Taylor need to add size, but that should happen during the summer. And, of course, I want to see how quickly Aaron Bailey can adapt to Bill Cubit'ss offense.
I do think Illinois has a chance for a late addition. That seems to be a Tim Beckman specialty.
Great job coming up with that list of potential signees. Great info.
Was AJ Jenkins even on the field last night? Were there any former Illini on the Ravens team? Please give 3-4 reasons we should look forward to a better FB season for the Illini this upcoming season. I am really hoping for this.
I couldn't find any stats for A.J. in the Super Bowl. He has some work to do before he becomes a regular part of the 49ers offense. Watch the transactions during the offseason and see who leaves the team. Having Randy Moss out will be a help for Jenkins.
The Ravens are Illini-free. Maybe that will change in the upcoming draft.
I think the hiring of Bill Cubit is a good place to start for Illlinois. The offense will be better next season. The defense loses key parts, but maybe that won't be all bad. And the healthy return of Jonathan Brown could be a huge boost.
I think just being in the second year of the program will enable the team to do more. The coaches have a better understanding of the players and the players know the coaches.
The schedule, whille difficult for Illinois, is appealing. I like seeing a good nonconference team like Cincinnati at Memorial Stadium and the game at Soldier Field against Washington should be a lot of fun.
After hearing about Northwestern's deal with the Cubs, did Mike Thomas push for the same tyoe deal for the Illini. It seems that would be a great way to get the Illinois brand all over Chicago, and the marquee would look so much better painted orange than that aweful looking purple. Take care!!
I think there are some practical concerns about Wrigley that have to be addressed for anybody playing football there.
I think playing at Soldier Field makes more sense for Illinois, especially if it can bring in an attractive opponent. And I think schools will be interested in playing Illinois there if they get a payback game near their homes. Illinois returns to Washington in the coming years.
I think Illinois should pursue games against the SEC at Soldier Field in the years it doesn't play at Northwestern. I'm, guessing LSU, Tennessee and even Alabama would be happy to consider a game in Chicago.
Though my daughter loves purple, it isn't my favorite color. No offense to fans of the Vikings.
Have you heard anything about the football season tickets and how Illinois will try to retain its season ticket holders?
I haven't heard any specifics about season tickets. I think keeping the prices steady, especially in the horseshoe, is a good start toward retaining fans. And the quality schedule this year helps too. Fans will want to see Ohio State and Wisconsin and Northwestern.
The stadium is also getting a key updgrade, the fancy new scoreboard. I can't wait to see it..
Football fans on Illini message boards seem to hate Tim Beckman both professionally and personally. They seem to have given up on Beckman and appear to want him to fail.
Have fans been fair to Tim Beckman?
In a word: No. They have not been fair.
I certainly understand their frustration. But sometimes when you make a change, it takes a while to get going in the right direction.
I can see why fans might be unhappy with Beckman from a professional standpoint. But on the personal side, I really don't get it. People who meet him seem to genuinely like him.
I got along with Ron Zook very well and we had a good relationship. I think the same is being developed with Tim Beckman. He has been very kind while I was out during the season because of illness. He called me a couple of times when I was in the hospital. That was very nice and not something all coaches would do.
I'm kind of an optimistic guy and don't believe in tossing people away after one year.
I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks again for the thoughtful questions.
Don't forget about Wednesday's daylong chat. Should be a blast.
And don't forget to stop by the Esquire tonight at 5 for our weekly radio show. Illinois volleyball coach and all-around good guy Kevin Hambly will be there.
Have a great week.