Feb. 12 Bob Asmussen chat

Feb. 12 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 10:00am

What do you think about the new Illinois defensive line coach? How well did Lovie Smith finish his 2018 recruiting class? Does the team need to add a veteran quarterback?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Sorry for the late start, but I had an interview that couldn't wait.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I watched a lot of basketball and a lot of the Olympics. The time delay has me confused, but the way NBC is handling the coverage seems to be working. I used to not want to know the results ahead of time, but I don't worry about that anymore.

The Illinois basketball team continues to struggle, but I have a feeling it is due for a turnaround.

The Illinois football team finished its 2018 recruiting class last week and added an assistant coach. Austin Clark, who will work with the defensive line.

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


Zekiah Swamp wrote on February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am


Given Greg Eboigbodin's athleticism and the benefits that will accrue from an off-season of weight training/conditioning and individual instruction/drills, it is likely that Greg will be a starter next year.  It is also likely that Underwood will attempt to bring in a big man, either a graduate transfer or a foreign player.  Either or both of these scenarios will likely decrease Mike Finke's playing time.  Given that Mike will have completed his degree in communications, do you think he might consider being a graduate transfer to Grand Canyon University so he could play a year with his brother?  The MAJOR drawback this possibility is that GCU offers a very limited number of masters degree programs and those appear to be entirely in Education.  (OBTW:  Were you aware that GCU is the first and only "for-profit" school in the NCAA?)

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am
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Zekiah Swamp,

I have learned a lot more about Grand Canyon after Tim Finke picked the school. I have heard the idea floated that Michael might want to join his brother in Arizona and it makes a lot of sense.

The limited number of masters programs won't be an issue. If Michael wants to move to the school for a year, he will make the academic side work.

We will see what happens. I understand the idea of the move, but I can also see a case where Michael Finke wants to finish where he started in the town where he grew up. Better days figure to be ahead  for the program and you would think a local guy would want to be a part of that.


myattitude wrote on February 12, 2018 at 10:02 am

Bob, how would you rank the 14 recruiting classes yourself in the Big Ten for football and were there any surprises that caught your attention?


Bob Asmussen wrote on February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am
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I think Rivals had the top of the conference pegged, with Ohio State and Penn State both in the national top five. Ohio State's class is loaded and another sign that the team will be good as long as Urban Meyer is in charge. James Franklin is doing very good work at Penn State.

The surprises to me are down the rankings, especially Michigan. The Wolverines are No. 24, which is fine. But they lost some good prospects late and dropped from the Top 20. It looks like there is starting to some grumbling in Michigan about Jim Harbaugh. I have written before that I can see him going back to the NFL at some point. That might be sooner rather than later.

Scott Frost at Nebraska did a good job putting together a Top 25 class in a short time. And Mark Dantonio held the Michigan State class together in the face of plenty of off-the-field issues.

After the top five in the Big Ten: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State, I would go with Maryland, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern and Rutgers.

I understand Lovie Smith doesn't care about the rankings and he has his own ways to judge talent. But for perceptions sake, having a Top 20 class would be a good thing. I think the staff will push for higher rankings in future years.

Reallly, it doesn't matter how good the players are when they arrive if you can't help them improve. That should be a selling point for Lovie Smith and his staff.


Anonymous User wrote on February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

I'm really high on Cam Thomases potential. Is he the kind of player to put in the extra time and work in the offseason,such as film work,learning defenses,getting stronger? In other words,does he want to be special and live up to his potential?

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am
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Based on talking to the people that know him well, I would say he is willing to put in the extra work. He has a huge advantage over the rest of the quarterbacks because he will be here in the spring and the other three will still be in high school. I expect Thomas will spend a ton of time with new offensive coordinator Rod Smith, which will help him get ready for the season,

What the coaches have said is they will use the guy who gives them the best chance to win. I think right now, Thomas seems like the most likely to be their choice. But I won't rule out any of the four. I know that the other three all have strong games. And they all have work to do.

I have speculated all along that Illinois will bring in a graduate transfer to compete at quarterback. That might still happen. but I think it is less likely now. The class is basically full, so it would have to be a no-brainer candidate for the coaches to take him on. Possible, but not likely.

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am
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I am going to cut off the chat for today. Sorry about any questions I didn't get to.

I will be back next week, but on a different day. I am going to move the chat to Tuesday at the same time.

If you are in downtown Champaign tonight, stop by the Esquire for "The News-Gazette Sports Page." Our guest will be new Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith. Hope you can join us.

Have a great week and enjoy the Olympics.