Dec. 4 Bob Asmussen chat

Dec. 4 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, December 4, 2017 - 10:00am

How was the Illini football banquet? Are any more players on the way out? What is the top recruiting priority for Lovie Smith?

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 December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I watched a lot of college football, then went to the Illinois football banquet. OK, I watched some basketball too.

This is the start of an important stretch for Lovie Smith, who will hit the road recruiting with his staff. Bringing in a solid class of 20-25 players is critical to the future of the program.

I think it will be an easy sell for Smith and his coaches. The number of freshmen they played this season will appeal to high school players. I don't think there will be as many freshmen playing next season, but I could be wrong.

Enough with the delays, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

 

Anonymous User wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

The list of transfers from the FB program seems to be growing. Some will be missed but on the whole are these players just not seeing playing time in there future or what? Do you think some of these players could have ben mixed in with the current freshmen starters, resulting in a better product this past season and next year also? Do you think the coaching staff just believes these young guys are more talented and are better than these holdovers could have been in the in the next year or two? With the scholarships available now up to 22-23 will this mean a bigger class than originally planned, and do you see more transfers coming uping that number? Do you think with all the coaching hiring and firing in the last couple of weeks, the Illini will be able to capitalize on getting some kids from those schools interested in them? Lastly what do you thing are the chances Luke Ford could commit here as well assome of the uncommited St. Louis players? Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am
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Anon,

 

A lot of great questions. I will start at the top. In most cases with the transfers, they were guys who saw the handwriting on the wall and decided they would rather play than sit. Hard to blame them for that. A couple guys were running out of time and didn't want to spend another year in a rebuild. Again, hard to blame them for looking for a winning opportunity. And in a case or two, the players were told they would be better served moving on. You can probably figure out which ones.

All eight that have left so far are good people who I got to know over the last few years. I wish them well. From a reporter standpoint, a guy like Tre Watson will really be missed because he was so open about his feelings. I think he will end up in a good spot.

I think some of the players could have fit in with the future teams, but chose not to. I think the losses hurts the team's depth, both in terms of game readiness and in preparation. You can't have too many solid football players in my opinion.

The coacing staff has put a lot of faith in the freshmen and the future classes. They think the young guys are going to develop into winners. To me, the key to the whole deal is finding a couple of leaders among the young guys who bring it all together. Think back to the Rose Bowl team, which had J Leman, Martin O'Donnell, Juice Williams, Kevin Mitchell and others leading the way early. That needs to happe again if Illinois wants to compete at a high level.

I think the Illinois class will hit closer to 25 than 20. I need to a quick count but there sure seems like there are enough openings. And I believe there will be more to come in the next week or so.

Can Illinois take adantage of some of the coaching changes? Sure, but you will notice that the new hires are being made faster than ever, with a few exceptions, and the new coaches are going to work right away. So, threre isn't a lot of time to make moves for Illinois unless they were already in on the player.

Luke Ford has a ton of quality offers. Obviously, Illinois is interested. I would label it as possible. It depends on how big of a draw it is for him to stay close to home.

 

 

Illini Football Fan wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

Bob -
Three things:

1) Can you teach us how available scholarships are allocated when players leave via graduation, transfers, drop-outs, etc? I am aware of 85 scholarships per year. I believe we had a big gap of available players last year.
2) Can you get us excited about the current commits and who Illinois hope to get in either signing periods?
3) Your thoughts on B10 schools in bowl selections yesterday. Fair? Not fair?

Thank you!

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am
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Illini Football Fan,

It does get a little bit tricky. The most you can have on scholarship at one time is 85. Each year, you are allowed to bring in 25, but there is some flexibility there, especially if you have early enrollments. Those guys can count against the previous class, if you have the spots.

When Ron Zook was here, he wold closely guard the number of available scholarships. He didn't want it used against him. Lovie Smith doesn't show his hand much either. Next time I talk to him. I will ask where the Illini are, but my guess is the answer will be "We have a plan and we are following the plan."

Rivals currently has the Illinois class ranked No. 68, ahead of Power 5 programs Syracuse and Stanford. The two quarterbacks in the class, M.J. Rivers and Coran Taylor, both have a chance to play as freshmen. And Texas defensive tackle Calvin Avery is the prize of the classs. He had offers from a bunch of top programs. A big get for Lovie Smith.

I really thought Ohio State deserved the final CFP spot over Alabama because of the quality of teams it beat. Alabama really doesn't have any big wins. Nothing that compares to the Buckeyes.

Overall, I think the Big Ten drew some very good matchups. And three spots in the New Year's Day games was deserved. If I had to guess right now, I think the Big Ten will go at least 4-4 and maybe better.

Illini Football Fan wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

Bob -
Your take on Nebraska's hire of Frost from CFU? Which teams will be most affected by Nebraska's probable rise in next few years? I am guessing Minnesota and Iowa as they are geographically closer to Lincoln. I know this is not 'good' news for West division of B10. Thoughts?

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am
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Illini Football Fan,

 

Scott Frost was the only guy Nebraska could have hired. He checks all the boxes and he has re-energized the Nebraska fan base. Credit the new athletic director Bill Moos for getting it done. Sounds like he handled the situation well.

The biggest problem for Frost is his proximity to a chunk of recruitable players. He is going to have to go to other areas. But when Nebraska was winning titles in the past that's what it did. His time in Florida and on the West Coast will help.

I think will Nebraska will be competitive in a year or two and will move toward the top of the Big Ten West. I think it will impact Iowa, where the Kirk Ferentz tenure can't last forever and Minnesota, which struggled in P.J. Fleck's first year. I wonder if Nebraska might try to recruit Illinois and Indiana. Chicago and Indy are easy to get to.

Coach Carmody wrote on December 04, 2017 at 11:12 am

Hey Bob,

I was wanting to get your take on the chances we land Verdis Brown and what kind of staff changes you think will be made. Do we go after Cory Patterson from trinity as the 10th assistant?

thank you 

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 04, 2017 at 11:12 am
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Coach Carmody,

 

Great to hear from you.

Verdis Brown has a bunch of high-level offers. Having Donnie Abraham, who used to work at IMG, on the Illinois staff figures to help. So does the chance to play early. IMG is going to be an important spot for Illinois in future seasons, especially if guys who come to C-U from there have successful careers.

I think there are many options for the 10th assistant coach. But as I have said before, Nathan Scheelhaase is the best option. A few head coach who knows the game well and is great with people. Plus, Lovie Smith has been around him and knows his value.

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 04, 2017 at 11:12 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, email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

If you are in town tonight, please stop by the Esquire for "The News-Gazette Sports Page." Illinois volleyball coach Chris Tamas, fresh off two wins in the NCAA tournament, will be our guest.

Have a great week everybody.