April 17 Bob Asmussen chat

April 17 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, April 17, 2017 - 10:00am

What other area players will walk on to Lovie Smith's program? Will Illinois be able to make a recruiting dent in Georgia and Texas? How soon will the plans for Memorial Stadium be announced?

For the answers to these questions, and anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime college football writer.

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. I was visiting family out ot town and saw a big-name Illinois recruit., More on that later.

Congrats to Matt Bollant for his new job at Eastern Illinois. He has always been great to work with. I believe he will turn the Panthers into a winner, probably sooner rather than later. Great hire by Tom Michael.

Not a lot of news these days in football. Lovie Smith and his coaches are hitting the road for spring recruiting. The new signing period will help schools like Illinois that are trying to rebuild. It is a move long past due.

Enough stalling. Time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

Illini Football Fan wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

Bob -

What's the latest on Tim Beckman and his former assistants? Have any of them landed jobs, going through interviews, or/and volunteering at various places? As we know, Bill Cubit is a HS head coach in Florida near his home.

Has all lawsuits from former players toward Tim Beckman, etc and university been settled?  When will there be final closure to all things related to the Tim Beckman era?

I recall one of the few plusses from the Beckman era is players' involvement in the community. Is Lovie Smith continuing that aspect with the current players?  Are volunteers continuing to assist the coaches in monitoring the players going to class(es)?



Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I heard from Tim Beckman late last week. He was congratulating Joe Spencer for his national award and we texted back and forth a few times. We didn't get into too many specifics, but I believe he is in Florida and is looking for his next football opportunity. I don't think he will go into high school coaching. More likely, I see him working in pro football, maybe in scouting. His brother Ted works with a lot of NFL people so there are connections there.

Tim Beckman has been spending a lot of time with hs dad Dave, who has had some health issues. Of course, we all wish him well. Dave Beckman was great to me after I got sick. For that matter, so was Tim Beckman.

On the former assistant coaches, A.J. Ricker is with Oklahoma State. When the 10th assistant rule is passed, I believe he will be aded by the Cowboys or another school. Last I heard, Al Seamonson was working as a volunteer assistant with Maryland.

Ryan Cubit is living in Michigan, close to his kids. He might be geting out of coachig to work in the medical field. Working with his dad was perfect for him. He is a very smart guy who can do a lot of things. But family is his priority now.

Jeff Hecklinski landed in  a great situation as Indiana State offensive coordinator for Curt Mallory. I will write about that situation later in the spring. They are two of my favorite people in coaching.

I believe all of the lawsuits are settled. I will double-check and report back in next week's chat.

You are right, Tim Beckman wanted his players heavily involved in the community. It was a very good thing. I believe Lovie Smith has continued that policy. It is the right thing to do. I think the players enjoyed the relationship with the folks in the area, especially the kids.

Flight Fan wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

Bob, love the chats. Hey, I've been hearing rumblings for a while now that UI Athletic Director Josh Whitman is considering moving some money around to ensure Illinois Football has an unparalleled pregame flyover program for the upcoming season. To me, this makes a lot of sense. Can you confirm or disconfirm this information? I went digging into the archives and discovered that none other than Lovie Smith himself is a pretty big proponent of the pregame flyover. Here's a quote I found on microfiche at my local library: "I do (believe in the power of the pregame flyover). I really do. Look, these are kids that generally don't need the extra motivation before a game, but there's nothing better than a roaring airborn armada of Rockwell B-1B Lancers tearing through the sky above a football stadium to give our guys the extra boost they need to move the chains on offense and make important open-field tackles on the defensive side of the ball." Any information you could provide would be appreciated by me and the rest of the Illini faithful. 

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Flight Fan,

That is awesome research. I didn't realize Lovie Smith has such a strong opinion on the practice.

The biggest flyover fan during my time at the N-G was Ron Zook, who had flyovers during Camp Rantoul.

The one thing I found out during the Zook era is that the flyovers don't cost Illinois a dime. They are done as a recruiting tool for the armed forces. That makes a lot of sense. When you see one of those big planes up close, you can't help but be impressed.

Here's hoping there will be a flyover during the 2017 season. Maybe several of them.

Anonymous User wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

I see where you suggest the Illini are trying to go into places like Gorgia, California,  and Texas more. What is the reasoning behind this? Have we abandoned places like Ohio, Pennslyvania, and Michigan completely? Seems like we never try to get prospects from our neighboring states like Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, or Iowa, while these states annually get some of our best players. How is the new recruiting department going? Has anyone been chosen to head it yet? Any concern that we have only one commit while someone like Northwestern has 13? Also what is a reasonable timetable for the new renovations at Memrial Stadium to start and finish?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Where schools choose to recruit is very much depends on the staff. Tim Beckman's stasff had strong ties to Ohio, so it made a lot of sense to go there. A lot. They knew the coaches and there was  trust built up.

Lovie Smith grew up in Texas so it is only natural that he will want to go back there for recruiting. Johm Mackovic had some success in Texas and I have always felt that it is an important place for Illinois to recruit.

I like your ideas about recruiting nearby states. Generally, the thought is that the best players in Iowa and Wisconsin will go to their state school. But it isn't an absolute. You never know unless you ask.

Missouri. especially St. Louis, is important to Illinois. If the NCAA approves a 10th assistant coach, I would hire Nathan Scheelhaase for that role and have him recruit in both St. Louis and Kansas City, his hometown. He will be a great recruiter for Illinos because of his own positive experience at the school. Plus, he knows football really well.

Pat Embleton is heavily involved in recruiting and Pat does a great job. I have been told that there won't another person added to the department in a leadership role. That makes sense because Pat already has a handle on it.

The number of commitments now is not a big deal. If Illinois has only one at the end of the summer, then you can start to worry. That will not be the case. The coaches, wisely, are being selective.

I hope we see plans for the renovations any day now. With Josh Whitman out of the coach hiring business for a while, my guess is he has had some time to work on some of the other pressing issues, like Memorial Stadium. I went over there on Friday just to look around. It's my favorite building in town. So cool to think of Red Grange and Dick Butkus playing there.

Anonymous User wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

In regards to the new recruiting rules changes, what will be the dates kids can sign for both periods, and when would this take effect? Seems like the new rules would help the Illini wouldn't they? Also do you think the 10th assistant coach proposal will be passed and when would that take effect? In your opinion how would the Illini use this new position? Would they gear it towards a recruiter or a certain position coach or what?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Anon 2,

If the rule is given final approval, it will start this year. I will check to see the exact dates, but I know the February period will stay in the same, meaning the first Wednesday of the month.

I think it would be a big help to Illinois. The school that wait the longest to land players are in the SEC. Anything that forces those schools to make an earlier commitment to a player is a good thing for all other schools. Say a player is waiting for an offer from the SEC, but has a Big Ten offer from Illinois. It's a case of bird in the hand and the player will give stronger consideration to the Big Ten.

Yes, I think the 10th assistant will pass, but there has been a push back from schools outside the Power 5, who don't want to spend the money. But there is a strong support for it from the big schools so it will happen. Lovie Smith, who had endless coaches in the NFL. is a big fan of the rule.

Illinois could use the 10th assistant in a lot of different roles. Not sure which way Lovie Smith will go with it. If not Nathan Scheelhaase, I think it would a good choice to add someone to the staff with Illinois ties. A former player or assistant coach. I think that would be very popular wiht the alumni.

Coach Carmody wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

Hey Bob, 

Who are some realistic 2017 Bball targets and who is the. Eat football commit?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Coach Carmody,


Great to hear from you. On basketball, I will defer to our ace recruiting expert Scott Richey. He will be chatting later in the week.

Scott says the school is after grad transfer Cameron Johnson of Pitt, Mark Smith from Edwardsville and Francesco Badocchi. Those are all 2017 players. For 2018, Tim Finke and Ayo Dosunmu are high on the list, For 2019, it is E.J. Liddell and Francis Okoro. Scott know his stuff.

On football, it seems like tight ends are high on Lovie Smith's list. Will Mallory from Jacksonvile, Fla., has family ties to the school and the Big Ten. T.J. Ivy from Chicago Marist has a bunch of offers, including Illinois.

In Sunday's college football page, I will list some of the other recruits who have caught my attention.

Steven I wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

Bob - Always appreciate your time. I love the direction of Illini football under Lovie Smith, despite it being unlikely they'll make it through 2017's schedule with a winning record.  That said, what do you think can/should be done to keep fan engagement/enthusiasm high?  Unique gameday promotions or ticket packages?  Anything outside the box in the works, perhaps?  Many thanks!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Thanks for the kind words.

Illinois has made attendance at Memorial Stadium a priority. It wants to support Lovie Smith and realizes big and enthusiastic crowds will help with recruiting. The good thing for Illinois is that the home schedule is appealing. with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern coming to town. I expect Illinois to have a lot of sales on tickets before and during the season. Having somebody pay a reduced price for a seat is better than having it empty.

Put me in charge and I would do some of car giveaway. Hit a field goal for 30 yards and you drive home in a new Buick. I also like contest that involve the fans. If the team scores 40, your ticket is worth a pizza.

I am biased, but the stadium is one of the best in the country. No reason it shouldn't be full every week. Of course, wins will do it too.  

Anonymous User wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am

Thank you again for sharing your insight,


 Has there been any news from the Athletic Department or Architect for Memorial Stadiums renovation regarding a release of updated concepts or changes from the prior coaching staffs ideas?  If not, when do you seeing the new designs being released to the public?


how do you feel about the current Quarterback Competition and the strength of Lovie's public commitment to his starter?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Anon 3,


Nothing new on the Memorial Stadium designs. We will get them to you as soon as we have them/ I will reach out to the school this week and provide an update in my next chat.

Lovie Smith talks about Chayce Crouch every chance he gets. That is a good thing. Crouch can't wait to get back on the field and lead the team. The backup situatio starts with Jeff George Jr. He is ready to step in and will push Crouch in the summer.

The big question, of course, is the status of Dwayne Lawson. It is hard for me to imagine him starting this season if he doesn't get to campus early in the summer. It has been a while since he played heavy minutes. I will keep you posted,

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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I am going to cut it off for today. Thanks for all of your great questions. I will be back next week at the same time. If you have any questions before then, email me at asmussen@news-gazette,com.

Hope you can listen to "The News-Gazette Sports Page" tonight.

Have a great week.