Jan. 15 Bob Asmussen chat

Jan. 15 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 10:00am

Who will Lovie Smith hire as his offensive coordinator? How about the 10th coaching spot? What position is most important to Illinois in the next round of recruiting?

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 January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Sorry for the late start. The Honda Civic really is not a fan of the snow, so the slippery ride to work took me a lot longer than I expected. I should have left earlier. My bad.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I watched a lot of football and basketball. And I took a couple hours out of my busy TV time to see "The Post." A fantastic movie that I hope you get a chance to take in.

Thanks as always for your participation. Despite my tardiness, it truly is my favorite part of the week.

We are all waiting on Lovie Smith to name an offensive coordinator. No timeline has been given by the school, but my guess is it happens this week.

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions.

Illini Football Fan wrote on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am

Bob -

If you were to advise Lovie Smith, what would your recommendation be in choosing between Nathan Scheelhasse and Cory Patterson from Trinity Catholic for the 10th Assistant position? And your rationale behind your recommendation. 




Bob Asmussen wrote on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am
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Illini Football Fan,

Great to hear from you.

I don't know Coach Patterson, though I have heard good things. I do know Nathan Scheelhaase very well, back to his high school days in Kansas City. What I know about him is that nobody cares more about the University of Illinois football program. That would be the No. 1 reason to hire him over anyone else. He played here at a high level and did nothing in his time to show anything but loyalty and caring about the program. In thinking about him as a recruiter, he will be a person who can easily sell the place to prospects and their families. If he walks into my home, talks to the recruit and his family the way I expect he will, then it it is hard to imagine that family saying "No."

From a football perspetive, Scheelhaase was a fantastic player who has learned from some very good coaches, going back to Kansas City Rockhurst. Xs and Os, he is way ahead of the game. I think he will be a head coach very soon.

I have written this before, but one danger in Lovie Smith hiring a high school coach is that other high school coaches might say "Why not me?" And it will have an impact on recruiting in the future.

Lovie Smith has three openings. If he wants to hire both Scheelhaase and Coach Patterson that is an option too.

I'm looking forward to how it plays out.

Anonymous User wrote on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am

What is the holdup with the hiring of a new Offensive Coordinator and the other coaches? Isn't this the week where the coaches could be out on the road recruiting? I would think having these issues settled would be more calming and influeincing with recruits wouldn't you?  Any thoughts or theories as to who these choices could or should be? With about 5-6 spots left it seems like just getting the best possible player regardless of position would be in order for depth purposes alone. Although getting some LB's and offensive players who could make a difference would be a pretty high priority. Seems like the last two classes have been geared towards establishing the trenches. Just me but I would think getting some difference makers on offense would help immensely.  Thanks for letting me vent.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am
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Venting is a great part of the chats. I get to do it too.

One reason a coach or coaches aren't being named today is that the school is closed for the holiday. So, the paperwork that is required before a coach can start to actually function in his job, can't get done until Tuesday at the earliest.

You are correct, coaches can be on the road this week. So Illinois is missing opportunities to both work on this year's class and on next year's class. That makes me think the hires will come as early as Tuesday, which will cut down the number of lost recruiting opportunities. While the new hires can't be working today, they certainly can start planning for the rest of the week, where they are going and what the plan is once they arrive.

I agree with you that the final spots in this year's class need to be difference makers. No matter what the position That might mean a lockdown corner or a highly skilled receiver or a bruising linebacker. There are plenty of needs for the Illini.

The 10 players that have left since the season ended will have an impact on the future. Those players could have been here in the spring, helping the entire team become better. I thnk it is important for Lovie Smith to try to make sure there is no more attrition before the start of the 2018 training camp. If I was in charge, I would have very little contact in the spring and work more on technique and the mental part of the game. Spend time on how now to false start or jump early for the defensive linemen. And talk a lot about what constitutes targeting and how to avoid it. There are ,many ways to get better in the spring without contact.

Illini Football Star wrote on January 15, 2018 at 10:01 am

Bob -

Where do you think former UI OC  Garrick McGee will end up and in what position? Back to Louisville or Northwestern?

What OC names will realistically excite you in replacing McGee? As of this writing, it seems like Matt Canada is the one of the leading candidates from the boards' perspective. What about Aaron Morehead, despite no OC experience?

What other former Illini players should to be considered for other assistant positions? Alan Ball (replacing Paul Williams; Ball was former UI def back)? Maybe even Charles Tillman (former Bear - frequent visitor to practices; strong Lovie supporter)?

Thank you for all you do with the News-Gazette.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 15, 2018 at 11:01 am
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Illini Football Star,

What I don't know about Coach McGee is how much money he is still owed by Illinois and how that will be impacted if he takes another job.

What happens often in these situations is the coaches go to work as analyst for a year with the understanding that they will be considered for a spot on the full-time staff.

I think he will want to be an offensive coordinator again if that is possible. I know his ultimate goal is to run another program. The best option there might be to drop down a level.

Matt Canada makes a lot of sense, given his history of success and familiarity with the Big Ten. Plus, he needs a job. I wonder what really happened at LSU? Was he told to go or did he decide it wasn't working for him? LSU still owes him a lot of money.

I have heard Aaron Moorehead mentioned for a spot on the staff. That would be a great thing in my opinion. Aaron is a sharp guy who loves the place. He's one of my all-time favorite Illini from a reporter standpoint. He was always good natured and willing to talk. And he didn't get mad when I asked him all the time about his dad.

I hadn't thought about Alan Ball. He is done with football and looking for the next challenge. Like Aaron, he is a good guy who I think would be an outstanding coach.

There are a lot of recent Illini I can think of who would be good as college coaches, if they wanted to do it. Pierre Thomas comes to mind. Just because of the kind of person he is and what he had to do to become a top player. There are a bunch of offensive and defensive linemen I have gotten to know over the years who would also be outstanding.

I think it is important for Lovie Smith to retain strong ties to the Illinois football past. The more people involved in the program who have lived it, the better chance for a quick turnaround.

Anonymous User wrote on January 15, 2018 at 11:01 am


Sorry to keep coming back to what, by now, seems to be a sore subject.  We still do not have replacements for the OC and Defensive Backs coaches, nor do we have a 10th assistant on board.  What is the hold up?  Is Lovie having a hard time finding someone to accept the position?  I know you have said you expect the hire to come from the NFL, but we're down to just 4 teams and still no movement,  We're now out of the dead period, if I am correct.  Isn't this hurting what recruiting remains?  Don't players want to know who their coach is going to be? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 15, 2018 at 11:01 am
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Anon 2,

I think it is imperative for Lovie Smith to get the right guy, No matter how long it takes. Yes, there are recruiting opportunities that are being missed. But this is one of the most important decisions for Illinois football in years.

The fact that most of the recruiting class for this year is locked up takes a lot of the pressure off. There is enough time before the second signing day for the new OC to have a say in who else joins the program.

I think the OC and the two remaining spots will be filled if not the same day then within a day or two. Lovie Smith might want the new OC to sign off on the 10th coach if that coach is going to work on offense, which is likely.

Initially, I thought Lovie Smith would hire from the NFL. But getting a coach from college makes more sense and fits better with the team needs. A strong recruiter, who is familiar with the college game, will be an important asset for Lovie Smith.

Bob Asmussen wrote on January 15, 2018 at 11:01 am
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I am going to cut off the chat for today. Thanks for all of your great questions.

I will be back next Monday at the same time. I promise to be here at 10. If you have any questions between now and then, feel free to email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

If you are in town tonight, stop by the Esquire for "The News-Gazette Sports Page," Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb will be our guest.

Have a great week and stay warm.