Nov. 27 Bob Asmussen chat

Nov. 27 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, November 27, 2017 - 10:00am

How did Illinois look against Northwestern? What is next for Lovie Smith? Will there be any changes to the staff?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

I spent most of Saturday at Memorial Stadium, watching Illinois stumble after a good start against Northwestern.

As I wrote in Sunday's paper, Illinois has a lot of work to do before the wins will start to come.

Next up for Illinois is the annual football banquet. The coaches will be working hard on recruiting before the early signing date. Illnois needs to make a splash with this class.

Enought stalling, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.


Illini Football Fan wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

Bob -

According to your crystal ball, what are a couple of biggest surprises that will happen during this off-season with the Illini Football Team?  Will it be a departure of either Coordinators (OC, DC)? Will be it be a few big name recruits (4-5 star) selecting the Illini for their future school and football? Will it be a Lovie Smith resignation? A big donor named for the Football Performance Center naming rights? A mass exodus of players leaving the program? A surprising strong upcoming class that is able to reach the 85 player limit?



Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am
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llini Football Fan,


Great question. One early move will be the addition of a 10th assistant coach. As I have written in the past, I would immediately add Nathan Scheelhaase to a position on the staff. An obvious, easy choice who will be a huge factgorfor future teams.

I think there will be a depature or two from the staff. I don't think either coordinator is leaving. It has only been two years and I think it is too early to judge.

I expect some players to leave early. While the heavy use of freshmen helps with the future, there will be some older guys who see it as a sign to move on. Most of those departures will be done at the semester so the guys can get a headstart at their next stop.

I think Illinois will try to add a grad transfer or two at need positions. Not sure if quarterback is one of those spots. I think the staff wants to settle on a long-term solution at quarterback. A grad transfer at quarterback is only a temporary fix.



southern Illini fan wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

I wish to compliment you and the other writers on the News-Gazette staff for providing fine coverage of sports from my Alma Mater. I have a comment to make on a dismal football season that thankfully is over. I believe we need to give Lovie Smith an opportunity to succeed. It is much to soon to be calling for his ouster. But I pause as well as I look back over the season. First of all, there were too many penalties especially those of the nature of too many players on the field, delay of game, and senseless personal foul penalties such as late hits etc. This was capped off by the embarrassing penalty flag issue when an Illinois player threw a flag at the official. That and the aforementioned penalties point to a lack of discipline that belongs on the shoulders of the coaches not on players who should have already been taught the discipline before arriving in college. Lastly unless he was injured in some manner I thought not allowing Kendrick Foster to play more in his last game as a senior on senior day in a game that mattered little especially with the ultimate outcome to be a lack of class in the coaching staff. This does not set an example of a culture that future recruits might find enticing to come to the U of I. thanks and keep up the good work.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am
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Southern Illini fan,


First, thanks for the kind words. We really appreciate it. Our job is to cover the team as best we can, win or lose. The season went by quickly. I can't wait for Sept. 1 when the 2018 season opens at home.

Great points about the penalties. You would like to say it was the youth of the team, but many of the mistakes were by older guys. The Tito Odenigbo penalty you mentined seems to be a case of frustration. But it can't happen. The coaches need to make sure the team understands the ramifications of those kind of mistakes. What if the team had been fighting for a bowl bid and that play cost it? You have to have a level of self countrol.

You are spot on with your comment about Kendrick Foster. Unless he was hurt, and I don't think he was, that was not the way to treat a guy who had been a leader since his arrival. I'm not sure who made that decision, but it was a pooor one. Kendrick has been a dedicated player who put the team over himself.

At the same time, it was nice to see Dre Brown get extensive action. He will be part of a very good running back corps next season.


Coach Carmody wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

Hey Bob,

What kind of staff changes do you see coming for Illini football? I know McGee hasn’t had a lot of his players or healthy bodies really but some of his decisions especially on 3rd and short are very concerning. Is he here next year?

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am
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Yes, I believe Garrick McGee will be back next season. He runs the kind of offense that Lovie Smith wants to play. With better talent, it should work better.

I think it is possible some of the other coaches might look around. I know Lovie Smith values continuity, but he wants his coaches to move on if they can find better situations.

If changes come, we will let you know ASAP. Thanks again for all of your great questions.

Anonymous User wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

The Illini definitely had a clunker of a season. I really believe that this should be viewed as Lovie's first season and not his second. That being said he still presided over two bad seasons of football. Going forward hopefully a few things will happen in the offseason.  1) Recruit, recruit, and recruit! The roster is obviously undermanned and is at a distinct disadvantage when the majority of players you start who are 18 years old freshman are going up against seasoned juniors and seniors, many of whom are fifth year players. They are both mentally and physically unprepared for what they experienced this year. 2) Hopefully the offseason will make them better FB players thru body building and film sessions. I think you will see a jump in their play because of this. 3) Settle the QB situation. Wether it be someone on the current roster or one of the talented incoming freshman, someone has to take charge and control the ball and put points on the board. 4) Get those facilities built both to make the surroundings better for the team and for the recruiting of future prospects and to create some excitement. Just a few observations on my part. Thanks 

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am
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A lot of very astute observations.

I expected a better season from Illinois. I predicted 5-7 before the first game. Ithought Illinois would beat Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue. I changed my mind and finished the season with  a 10-2 prediction record. Pretty good for me.

I do agree that the players, especially the young guys, will make major gains during the off-season. The problem for Illinois is that players are making similar gains at other schools.


Anonymous User wrote on November 27, 2017 at 10:11 am

Here are a few questions that you hopefully can give me your opinion on. 1) Do you think any changes to the coaching staff will be made or are needed? Will Nate Scheelhasse be given a chance to be the 10th assistant, and do you think the HS coach from St. Louis (sorry his name escapes me), be given a chance to come here? I could see Lovie leaning towards getting younger dynamic recruiters couldn't you? 2) What will it take to crack the St. Louis area and get some recruits there? What will it take to become relevant in the Chicago area and the rest of the state of Illinois again? Certainly the latter of those is a must wouldn't you say? 3) What will be the size of the recruiting class? Do you see some juniors and or sophmores transferring, because of the playing of all the freshman? 4) For the Illini to show improvement next year, what will their record have to be? I say 4, maybe 5 wins and improved play in other games. Am I dreaming or is it doable?  Thanks for the soap box time!

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 11:11 am
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Anon 2,

I think there will be changes on the coaching staff. I don't know who right now. The staff will have an end of the season review and I'm sure those discusssions will happen.

I think Nathan Scheelhaase will be given a chance to become the 10th assistant. Given his history and talent, he would be perfect as quarterback coach. That would go a long way in helpng the offense move forward.

I think Illinois is doing a solid job recruitng St. Louis. Lovie Smth made it  a priority and having guys like Larry Boyd play so much as a freshman certainly helps.

The coach you are talking about is Darren Sunkett at East St. Louis. He has a good deal there. I wonder if he would want to try college.

Another guy Illinois should think about pursing is Rochester coach Derek Leonard, who has won seven out of the last eight state titles. He has a great offense and would also help with recruiting in the state. Again, he's got a nice deal there, so I don't know if he would consider the move.

On the recruiting class, I think you are looking at the low 20s. With only nine seniors to replace, it can't be too much more than that.

I think some of the juniors and sophomores will move on. Guys who aren't playing much. If you believe in yourself, and all of them do, you want to get on the field.

Going back to the Ron Turner era, the third season has alwayhs been the charm. That's when the school went from out of bowl contention to bowl eligible. It happened for Turner, Ron Zook and Tim Beckman. That should be the goal for 2018, but is a big ask unless major improvement is made on offense. Checking ot the schedule, with no Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan, four or five wins is doable.



Bob Asmussen wrote on November 27, 2017 at 11:11 am
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I am going to end the chat 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 email me at

If you are in town tonight, stop by the Esquire at 5 p.m. for "The News-Gazette Sports Page," The state champion GCMS football team will be our guests.

Have a great week.