July 10 football/recruiting chat

July 10 football/recruiting chat

Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 1:00pm

So, Tim Beckman's program has 12 commits lined up for the Class of 2015. Are they any good? Will the Illini be any good this fall? What's going on with State Farm Center construction? Feel free to submit questions ahead of time in Daniels' weekly give-and-take.

Matt Daniels wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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Afternoon everyone. Matt Daniels here for about a half hour or so. Working on some stories for the weekend, so we'll get started with the chat here soon.

If you haven't heard by now, Illinois will be looking for a new offensive line coach for the 2014 season. A.J. Ricker accepted the same position at Missouri on Wednesday, leaving Illinois in a bit of a bind here with preseason practices starting in less than a month.

Expect Illinois to move fast on hiring his replacement, and expect Bill Cubit to have a lot of say in who Tim Beckman hires. Ricker was Cubit's guy, and a large reason why Ricker came to Illinois after working as Cubit's offensive line coach for two seasons at Western Michigan.

Recruiting has picked up for Illinois in the last month, with 12 commits on board right now. I'd imagine that number is doubled by the time signing day rolls around in February.

Let's get started.

IL fan wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm

With the recent recruiting success that IL has had, I don't know how Thomas would even justify firing Beckman if he went 4-8 or 5-7 this next year.  How could he justify not adding that type of talent and depth to the roster if he made a coaching change?  Who would he even get?

And I will be perfectly honest, I think Beckman is just a figure-head at this point.  I just think he just doesn't know any better.  He's like Constanza where every instinct, every decision he makes is just the wrong one - he can't help himself.  I can't even get mad at what he says/does anymore because he's just a fool.  Unfortunately, he's our fool and his assistants are saving him right now by A. taking the decision making out of his hands (thank you Bill Culbit) and B. working their butts off to reel in these recruits (thank you Alex Golesh).  I guess we'll see where the credit is due if some of these assistants start to leave the program but if I were Beckman, I'd be begging Thomas to start paying these guys (which he probably won't).

With all that said, I am actually looking forward to this fall (no, really).  I am expecting to see a much improved team and possibly a bowl game.  Of course, I think those same thoughts about this time every year and then I am quickly slammed down to Earth by about the 2nd game but whatever.  I refuse to be like the majority of the passive IL fan base who are so quick to turn to the exits and ignore the team but are so quick to jump back on the bandwagon when things get good.  I truly wish we had a more passionate fan base that continued to go to the games because that would definitely make it easier attract better coaches/recruits but we've got what we've got and I guess I'll just have to scoot over and make room on that bandwagon when the time comes.  

Matt Daniels wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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Hey IL Fan,

You make some strong points there. The easiest way for Tim Beckman to make sure his job status is secure after the season is to make a bowl game.

Pretty simple, although it might be hard to achieve with a tough road schedule and plenty of questions still out there surrounding how well the Illinois defense can perform after a poor showing in 2013.

Anything less than 6-6, and then speculation will start to ensue about whether Mike Thomas will give Beckman a fourth year. If Illinois stays in games and is competitive, which they were in some losses last season (Washington, Penn State, Indiana, Ohio State, Northwestern), then a 5-7 record might be enough to keep him around.

Thomas hasn't come out and said Beckman needs to win a certain amount of games for him to retain his job, but Thomas has said he wants the program moving forward so bowl game talk comes up every December. And not Beckman's job status.

With the way the offense improved under Bill Cubit's system last fall, along with some of the defensive starters back with more seasoning and not to mention the addition of Wes Lunt, a bowl game should be a realistic goal for Illinois this fall.

But, based on Illinois' inconsistent history and their recent Big Ten struggles, that's anything but a guarantee before the season starts.

Fat Man wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Recruiting has been going well for TB and the ILLINI. How much will the loss of AJ Ricker hurt us?  He was in on many of the commitments year to date.  He also seemed to have a rapport with the players. OL play was better last year.  Any information on who might be on the short list?  Will Illinois pay enough to lure another top OL coach?

Matt Daniels wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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Hey Fat Man,

A.J. Ricker has played a key role with the Class of 2015 so far, being heavily involved in four offensive line commits: Gabe Megginson, Adam Solomon, Zeke Martin and Zach Heath.

Megginson told me on Wednesday he is still solid with Illinois despite Ricker leaving. Martin and Heath took to Twitter on Wednesday to reaffirm their intentions of staying with Illinois. Solomon made comments to Rivals.com:

"It's something I will have to take in," Solomon told Rivals. "I'm not sure what to make of it yet. I didn't see it coming, for sure."

The opportunity to coach at Missouri, where Ricker played and where the opportunity just came up because of the recent retirement of offensive line coach Bruce Walker, proved too much for Ricker to pass up.

Can't really blame him, either. Missouri plays in a better conference in the SEC, had immense success last season by playing for an SEC title and eventually winning the Cotton Bowl and it's where he played his college football at.

The offensive line play was improved last year. Illinois still gave up 30 sacks to rank ninth in the Big Ten, but not all of those sacks were the fault of the offensive line.

Beckman said he has some former NFL coaches and some former college head coaches in mind, but didn't disclose names.

Ricker was one of the lowest paid assistants in the Big Ten last season at $180,000, and Missouri's lowest-paid assistant last season made $251,000, so he should receive a substantial bump in salary.

Not sure yet if Illinois will make better offer to new offensive line coach, but they did show a willingness to bump Bill Cubit's salary after last season to $500,000, so they might try to raise the offensive line coach's pay in an effort to bring a quality one in at the last minute.

Anonymous User wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Who are the candidates for O line coach?

Why did the Mizzou coach retire so late?

JimmyJack wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Who's the new OL coach?

EA Sports wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Matt –

Do you think AJ Ricker leaving for his alma mater, Mizzou, to take the OL Coach position will have any effect on our OL recruits or Oseland’s decision?

Thanks for the chats,


Matt Daniels wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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Figured I'd group all these questions in at once so I'm not repeating myself.

At least not repeating myself too much.

Illinois has in mind a few candidates already. Who they are, not entirely sure since Beckman isn't talking openly about it. Which he doesn't have to. Would be great to know some names, but that would just fuel conjecture and speculation at this point.

You never want to lose an assistant coach so soon before the season, but it does help Illinois since four starters are returning and the offense Bill Cubit will run this season is the same system as what Illinois used last year.

Good question about why Bruce Walker retired so late. Without knowing the specifics, he just felt the time was right to retire now.

Does seem a little odd to retire less than two months before the start of the season, but that's the situation that presented itself.

Illinois will likely look outside the program for a new offensive line coach. No one on the current staff really has the qualifications to coach the offensive line and if Beckman did promote from within, he would then have to find another coach anyway.

Only recruit it might affect would be Adam Solomon, whose comments after Wednesday's news seemed to leave him a bit unsure.

Quinn Oseland from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin has had the chance to know the entire Illinois coaching staff well, not just Ricker.

Ricker leaving shouldn't affect Oseland's decision.

What is more interesting with Oseland's recruitment is with Gabe Megginson and Adam Solomon already on board, and since both are tackles like Oseland, where does that leave Oseland?

Something to consider.


Matt Daniels wrote on July 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm
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Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for the questions, especially since we did a schedule change on you and moved it up a day.

Need anything else, email me at mdaniels@news-gazette.com or hit me up on Twitter @mdaniels_NG.