May 15 Bob Asmussen chat

May 15 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 10:00am

What should Lovie Smith do with the three players who were arrested this week? How will Dawuane Smoot perform in his rookie season with the Jags? Who will be the next Illini football commitment?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Thanks as always for your questions.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. The kids helped me make their Mom Eggs Benedict for Mother's Day and we spent the day together. Lots of fun.

I did watch sports during the weekend, mostly golf, baseball and basketball. Yes, I need a hobby.

This is an important week for the Illinois golf team, which is playing in the NCAA regional at West Lafayette, Ind. It's a strong field, so Illinois is not a lock to advance to the NCAA tournament. But Mike Small always has his guys ready and they know the course well.

I recommend you check out our Sunday Special interviews with some of the writing legends in the Big Ten. It was a lot of fun to put together and they offered a lot of insight. The Big Ten is blessed with an overwhelming amount of talented reporters covering the conference. They are excellent at what they do and also outstanding people.

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions.

Illini Football Fan wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am

Bob -

Do you think the football incident by 3 football players is purely an isolated case or a symptom/indication of a bigger problem in Lovie's system (e.g., culture)?  How will this affect recruiting or donations to the DIA?

Thanks

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am
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Illini Football Fan,

With a few exceptions, the Illinois football players have avoided trouble during the past decade or so. That's a very positive sign for the head coaches involved.

The coaches talk to the players a lot about off-the-field responsibilities, both school work and how they act on campus and in the community.

This sure seems like an isolated incident. Three players  made an alleged poor decision that will likely cost them their Illinois careers and could lead to jail time. I wasn't there, so I can't know what they were thinking. We have to presume they are innocent until proven guilty, but it does not look good.

I think it is important for Lovie Smith to take a strong stand against this kind of behavior. He did the right thing by immmediately suspending the three and will remove them from the team if all the charges stick. As I wrote this weekend, if it is clear they did it, they won't get another chance at Illinois.

With some of the recent changes in what the players are allowed to receive from the school, they have a lot of resources available to them. School is free. Meals are free. Their rooms are free. It's a great deal. I don't know what would compel a modern-day student-athlete to consider criminial activity. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

For Lovie Smith, who is fighting to rebuild the program, this was a blow. But one that he can overcome by managing the situation the proper way.

 

Dyslexia Untied wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hi Bob

Just wanted to get your thoughts on the size of Illinois basketball. Just wanted to get your thoughts on Illinois possibly adding Dwight Coleby from Kansas as a graduate transfer to give us some beef given his connection to Antigua?

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am
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Dyslexia Untied,

Normally, I would turn to our ace basketball reporter Scott Richey for his thoughts, but he is busy working on the Jeremiah Tilmon story. Basketball never takes a summer vacation.

From what I understand about Brad Underwood and after watching them live in the NCAA tournament, I don't think he is too worried about the size of his team. The game has changed. You don't need a bunch of huge guys to win games.

I think you will see Underwood go with a Flyin' Illini-sized team. It worked for Lou Henson and it can work now.

Coleby would be an interesting addition. He didn't play much for Bill Self last season. He started his career at Mississippi before moving to Lawrence. He only has one year left, so adding him won't mean a long-term commitment from Illinois. A decent option for Illinois.

Anonymous User wrote on May 15, 2017 at 10:05 am

What does the outcome look like for the three FB players who ran afoul of the law?  Not to sound cold and cruel but do there scholarships get revoked and does that mean they will be open to prospects for the class of 2018? Seems to me the kids scarred themselves for life if found guilty. What a waste for themselves, their families, and the university. I know stuff like this goes on at other schools and some even alot worse, but haven't we recently been able to avoid alot of this off the field garbage?

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am
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Anon,

From what I have read and also in talking to people involved with the program, the three are going to have a hard time coming back from this. If they hire good lawyeres, they might be able to avoid heavy jail time, but as I wrote this weekend, Lovie Smith will have little tolerance for this kind of stuff. This is not a DUI or a speeding ticket. Those are both bad, but this reaches another level.

I think it is likely the scholarships will open and go to the 2018 class. Hard to imagine the players returning unless it all turns out to be wrong. And that is not the sense I get.

You are right that Illinois has mostly avoided major trouble in recent years. Give credit to the coaches, who don't want this kind of stuff going on under their watch. And give credit to the support staff at the school, which I think does a good job of explaining to the athletes what will happen if they get arrested.

I am a big believer in second chances. We all make mistakes. But there are some offenses that require severe penalties. This seems like one of those cases.

Lovie Smith needs to think big picture on this. Losing three players will temporarily hurt the program. But long term, removing the players, if guilty, will make a strong statement about his values.

 

 

Chuck from Florida wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am

How many players will Lovie sign in the upcoming class?

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am
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Chuck,

 

Right now, the number would be in the mid-teens. But I believe Lovie Smith will have more open scholarships as signing day gets closer. There is always attrition during the summer. So I expect a handful of openings between now and the start of the season.

Big classes the past couple of years have restricted the staff for 2018 recruiting. Generally, Lovie Smith will want to add about 20 guys each year. For now, there won't be a lot of freshman redshirts. The team needs everyone to be able to play now. That's what happens when you try to rebuild.

Anonymous User wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am

One of the qestions you ask is who we think will be the next Illini FB recruit? My question is who do you think it will be? What do you think of the new FB recruiting staff and its leader? From what you hear about these departments at other Big ten schools how does ours compare? Seems like last year we were succcessful with in-state recruiting. Doesn't seem like that will be the case this year. Is that by design or a renewed concentration in our area by other schools? My worry is the Illini getting off to a bad start on the field and recruits losing interest in the initial Lovie effect. Seems like this rebuild will take longer than we thought compared to a place like Wisconsin when Barry Alvarez took over doesn't it? Bummer especially when it seems like we have more or just aa much to offer recruits as a university than most Big Ten schools. A I being a homer or what? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am
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Anon 2,

Let's go to your last point first. You are not being a homer. I have always said that Illinois has a lot of positives when it comes to the football program. The recent tradition isn't great, but the past includes Red Grange and Dick Butkus, two people every football fan knows. The team plays in a beautiful building on a very nice campus. School-wise, there aren't many better in the Big Ten. So yes, Lovie Smith has a lot to sell.

But the record his first year, while certainly understandable, does not help with the rebuild. If the team had gone to a bowl game, the quality of recruits would have been better, Simple as that. There is concern in the football recruiting world that Illinois won't be able to win for a while. Trust me on this, rival coaches are using that idea when they talk to the top players. That is a problem for Lovie Smith that only gets fixed with wins.

I knew fairly early in Ron Zook's tenure that the team was going to win. It started when top players like Juice Williams and Martez Wilson and Arrelious Benn said yes to Illinois. Lovie Smith needs to get top players to sign in the next two classes. It is critical. So fans need to be patient with this recruiting class and not panic with the low number of commits. The coaches must to selective, This upcoming class is important and they can't make mistakes in evaluations.

I understand that this is not a great year for instate recruiting, The talent level is down. But that can change once the season starts and players improve. Illiinois wants to win the home state, but it has to go elsewhere when the numbers are down. It is a great year in St. Louis and Illinois is hitting it hard.

I have still not had a chance to meet the new leader of the recruiting staff. I have heard good things. Again, I think Illinois would be really smart to get Nathan Scheelhaase heavily involved. Nobody could sell the program better than him. He loves the place and would be a big hit with players and recruits.

There are a lot of options for the next commit, but I will go with a position: receiver, Illinois is after several talented players in the South and I think that will be next commit, I will keep you posted.

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am
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Anon 2,

Let's go to your last point first. You are not being a homer. I have always said that Illinois has a lot of positives when it comes to the football program. The recent tradition isn't great, but the past includes Red Grange and Dick Butkus, two people every football fan knows. The team plays in a beautiful building on a very nice campus. School-wise, there aren't many better in the Big Ten. So yes, Lovie Smith has a lot to sell.

But the record his first year, while certainly understandable, does not help with the rebuild. If the team had gone to a bowl game, the quality of recruits would have been better, Simple as that. There is concern in the football recruiting world that Illinois won't be able to win for a while. Trust me on this, rival coaches are using that idea when they talk to the top players. That is a problem for Lovie Smith that only gets fixed with wins.

I knew fairly early in Ron Zook's tenure that the team was going to win. It started when top players like Juice Williams and Martez Wilson and Arrelious Benn said yes to Illinois. Lovie Smith needs to get top players to sign in the next two classes. It is critical. So fans need to be patient with this recruiting class and not panic with the low number of commits. The coaches must to selective, This upcoming class is important and they can't make mistakes in evaluations.

I understand that this is not a great year for instate recruiting, The talent level is down. But that can change once the season starts and players improve. Illiinois wants to win the home state, but it has to go elsewhere when the numbers are down. It is a great year in St. Louis and Illinois is hitting it hard.

I have still not had a chance to meet the new leader of the recruiting staff. I have heard good things. Again, I think Illinois would be really smart to get Nathan Scheelhaase heavily involved. Nobody could sell the program better than him. He loves the place and would be a big hit with players and recruits.

There are a lot of options for the next commit, but I will go with a position: receiver, Illinois is after several talented players in the South and I think that will be next commit, I will keep you posted.

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am
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I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks for all of your great questions.

I will be back next Monday at the same time. If you have any questions between now and then, feel free to write me at asmussen@news-gazette,com.

Have a great week.