Oct. 6 Ask the Sports Editor chat

Oct. 6 Ask the Sports Editor chat

Friday, October 6, 2017 - 2:00pm

Will a quarterback change spark the Illinois football team Saturday at Iowa? Is there anything else Lovie Smith and Co. can do to right the ship? On the high school side of things, which teams and players are the ones to watch with postseason play beginning to get underway? Anything is fair game in sports editor Matt Daniels' weekly chat, which gets going at 2 p.m. on Friday. Feel free to submit questions ahead of time.

Matt Daniels wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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Good afternoon everyone.

Matt Daniels here on a rainy, somewhat cool first Friday in October.

Illinois football is hitting the road this weekend, along with the N-G traveling party of Bob Asmussen and Scott Richey, for Iowa City.

The Illini will try to end their two-game losing skid, with a new starting quarterback in Jeff George Jr., when they play at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are reeling a bit, too, having lost two straight after starting nonconference play 3-0.

And earlier today, Illinois lost out on Class of 2018 four-star wing Landers Nolley when the Georgia product dropped Illinois from his list, with Georgia and Virginia Tech in his final two ahead of his announcment on Saturday night.

That's culminated a tough recruiting week for Illinois, who saw four prospects they all spent time pursuing pick other schools.

Brad Underwood will meet with the media next Wednesday during the team's media day on campus, but earlier this morning, he was posing inside State Farm Center for the cover of our upcoming IlliniHQ basketball yearbook that will hit newstands later this month.

That's enough of an opening statement from me.

Let's get to any questions out there. 

Arch 1973 wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm

A thought or 2 about the federal charges involving serveral coaches, agents, shoe executives.  The worst case situations are driven by attempt to assemble the super teams of one and done's, somewhat successfully pulled off at Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and attempted at Louisville, Kansas and other places.  It would take NBA policy change but a lot of that would be diffused if the top players could go from HS straight to the NBA. 

I would then allow the players who attempted to jump to the pros, but did not make it the option to come back and play in college.  A couple of provisos.  Wait a callendar year from the last professional activity to gain eligibility.  The player, using the earnings of a pro contract, would have to pay for common student expenses, tuition, room and board.  The college would cover team related expenses, travel, medical etc.  The player would have to meet the admission requirements of the general student population.  When my kids were applying to the U of I, ACT 27, top 10%.  I don't know what it would be now.

Unfortunately the indictments carry a certain level of stench that hits others.  I got on the Auburn websites and there is active specualtion of the plausible involvement of Bruce Pearl.  Underwood is also affected, as would be the coaches at USC and AZ.  At AZ the head coach Miller and the indicted assistant have been working together for 7-8 years. 


Matt Daniels wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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Hey Arch1973,

All good points you bring up.

The corruption scandal that caught everyone by surprise (well, some critics have seen this coming for a while) a few weeks ago isn't over. By a long shot.

It doesn't look like it will end well for Lamont Evans, Tony Bland, Chuck Person and others directly caught in this web that the FBI has investigated for some time.

Guilt by association is what many college head coaches across the country are likely fearful of, not only with their immediate futures (i.e. Rick Pitino at Louisville) but also the fallout on the recruiting trail. No doubt opposing coaches will use this sordid tale against rival schools when meeting with potential recruits and their famillies. 

The NBA policy of not letting players go directly from high school into the NBA may need some tweaking. And it may well have to do with some of the serious allegations brought forth in the college basketball corruption scandal.

It's a dicey situation if you're saying a talented high school player has to bypass the NBA draft for what amounts to a one-year apprenticeship at a college program before he declares for the draft.

If the rule wasn't in place, would this scandal have happened? Maybe. Maybe not. 

But cheating has gone on in the college game for decades (check out Loren Tate's latest column in this Sunday's News-Gazette and he goes into much greater detail on this topic) so who's to say some other scandal may not have emerged even if high school players could go straight to the NBA.

Either way, it's a bad look for the college basketball world when the FBI starts coming in with wiretaps and handing down serious indictments.

Anonymous User wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Seems like we get all excited about the freshman FB class and after the first couple of games maybe we got too optimistic. Being close to the FB team, you probably know better than most how thin talent the is in the upperclasses. We probably won't see real improvement and maybe even a bowl game until 2019 right? Do you think this is why Lovie was given a six year contract, because Josh Whitman saw the team talent level also? Could you really say becuase of when Lovie was hired this is kind of his first year? What positions do you see him concentrating on to fill out the class of 2018, and do you think he will be able to pull off some surprises and get some commtiments from some more highly rated players?

Matt Daniels wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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Hey anonymous, 


I remember talking once to a high-level staffer at a Power 5 school on signing day a few years ago, and he said that was the most over-hyped day in college football. 

I agree. To an extent.

Not every football player who signs will become an instant contributor or difference-maker right away. 

It may even take a few seasons to develop into a starter. With this Illinois team, so many freshmen are being asked to start and play significant snaps, mistakes are bound to happen. 

The experiences they'lll get this year, though, should pay off in the long run. At least that's the hope. 

If Lovie Smith can start to show some signs of progress later this season and by next season, then yes, it's not out of the realm to see Illinois in a bowl game by 2019. If not sooner. 

The six-year contract Smith has shows the level of commitment that Josh Whitman has in Smith and gives him substantial time to possibly turn Illinois into a consistent winner. 

Defensive line depth and offensive line depth are areas teams can never have enough of. Adding another wide receiver or two would be helpful for the future along with some help at linebacker.

Matt Daniels wrote on October 06, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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Going to wrap up this week's chat. Thanks for the questions. 

Check back in Saturday's N-G as Bob Asmussen takes a look at new Illinois starting quarterback Jeff George Jr., the latest on the Illini before they kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and much more before the Illini and Hawkeyes tangle. 

Scott Richey will have his LIVE! Report ready to go at 9 a.m. on Saturday, so follow along all day.

Have a great rest of your Friday and enjoy the weekend everyone!