July 9 Bob Asmussen chat

July 9 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, July 9, 2018 - 10:00am

How many games will Lovie Smith win in his third season? Who will be the next recruit to commit to the 2019 class? How much will the new redshirt rule help Illinois?

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 July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I covered Sunday's Lift for Life at Memorial Stadium, a very cool annual event. A perfect day weather-wise to watch others lift weights and push things around.

The start of football is just around the corner. I can't wait. This is a very important season for Lovie Smith's program.

We will likely get the plan for training camp in the next week or so. It figures to be similar to last year, when the workouts were open to the media and the public.

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


Illini Football Fan wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am

Bob -

Did you attend the 'Lift for Life' event? If you or other N-G staff attended, what was learned and how did the freshmen and older teammates get along? Any surprises with ones with signficant muscle or speed gain?



Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I did attend. I think it was the first one I have been to since the early years of the event.

The most impressive part was the turnout from the players. I didn't take a head count, but I think everyone on the team participated. This was organized by the players and there were no coaches around.

Many of the players have undergone significant physical changes. The guys that needed to add size have done that. The guys who needed to lose a few pounds have done that too. I have been very impressed with the work done by strength coach Joey Boese, who seems to have the respect of the players. Boese was a very good hire by Lovie Smith. If the team makes jump in wins this season, which I think is possible, Boese deserves plenty of credit.

I sense the older players on the team have made an effort to be inclusive. I heard several comments about the unity and chemistry of the team. When you aren't winning, you tend to look for answers and often, those answers have as much to do with attitude as with ability. Players always want to get better. But you can't simply snap your fingers to make it happen. It takes hard work and dedication. I see more of that with the current team than I have seen in recent seasons. Not to say the other guys didn't try. It just seems to be more heightened now.

It is going to be an interesting year. Illinois has some advantages early because of the coaching changes. Opponents won't really know what to expect from Rod Smith's offense.




Anonymous User wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am

It is fast approaching one year since the scandal broke regarding the "shoe scandal" and money paid to players families as well as a few assistant coaches.  It has become eerily quiet concerning this. Do you think this will ever be dealt with or will the NCAA just hope to string it along and hope every one just forgets about it?  I can tell from your recent article you are still upset over the scandal at Penn State (and rightfully so.). Again, in my opinion, the NCAA let them off with just a slap on the wrist by decreasing their sanctions and punishments. It is sickening how "greasy" college athletics has become. 

Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am
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I try to be positive about the future of college sports, which I love. But there are clearly issues that need to be addressed. The shoe scandal is one of them.

I don't think the scandal will go away. What I believe is happening right now is that the violations are being thoroughly investigated. To get to the bottom of violations, it can take time. I don't want to see the investigation rushed because I think that will lead to mistakes.

I think in the past, governing organizations tended to try to push scandals to the side. But I don't think that is as easy to do these days. The media is doing its job as a watchdog, trying to make sure the scandals get proper attention.

I think there is closer scrutiny at Ohio State because of what happened at other schools. The fact that it took so long for this case to come to light is troubling, but at least it came to light.

You are right, I have strong feelings about what happened at Penn State. I tried to imagine how I would feel if the victims were my kids. Or relatives. Or friends of the family. I would have done anything necessary to make sure my feelings were known.


james pfetzing wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am

Bob: Thx. for taking the time to do the chats. Loren's article today is almost uncharacteristically positive about the "trend" developing in Illini sports. Do u share his view and if so...more or less?

Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am
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I have always thought that Illinois could be a force in men's basketball and a consistent winner in football. It hasn't happened, to a large extent, because of the inability to get the right people in place, and/or the early departures of some of the coaches.

Think what the past 15 years would have been like had Bill Self stayed in C-U? I understand why he didn't. Your dream school calls and you have to go. But if Kansas hadn't opened, Self might have won a couple titles by now at Illinois and be here for life.

In football, I think the school made a mistake when it fired Ron Zook. The team was going in the right direction and the firing stopped it. How many winning seasons since Zook left? None.

I think Brad Underwood is going to win at Illinois. Maybe not this year, but soon. The changes in the roster seem drastic, but I believe they were necessary.

Football is harder to turn. While basketball can be fixed with two or three great players, it takes 10-15 to make it happen in football.

Recruiting and evaluation are the keys for Lovie Smith and his staff. If they go after the right players and are able to bring them here, they will have a chance for long-term successs. In a perfect world for Illinois, the team will get to a bowl in the next year or two, then put itself in position to be a consistent bowl team.


Jim - from Mis-ery wrote on July 09, 2018 at 10:07 am

Bob: It looks like Buckeyes are the third Big Ten school to foster a sex scandal. It also appears that the schools will just throw money at it and go right on. PSU came out with very little damage. Should the punishment be stronger? Don't these high school kids read the papers? Thanks for your continued incite!

Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 11:07 am
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Yes,the punishment should be stronger. If the accusations are true. One of the great things about this country is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

But the reported evidence at Ohio State seems overwhelming. Hopefully, there will be an explanation about why it took so long to get to the case. And hopefully, if there are people responsible for any kind of obstruction, they will be dealt with properly.

Three scandals in a short amount of time is not a good look for the Big Ten. I think the conference needs to send a strong message that harm done to the student-athletes will not be tolerated.


Daytripper wrote on July 09, 2018 at 11:07 am


I was in Columbus over the holiday weekend and saw an interesting letter to the sports answerman in the paper.  The letter bemoans the lack of Urban Meyer's penchent to recruit out of state talent, as opposed to landing in-state players.  The letter goes on to ask if the in-state talent just isn't that good or if Meyer is just not recruiting them.  Sound familiar?  My question is just to substitute Illinois for Ohio here.  Are Illinois' fans overly rating the talent in our state?

Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 11:07 am
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I think the talent in Ohio and Illinois is very good. But it is not at the top of the country. Florida, Texas and California are at the top. By a wide margin. Georgia is close behind.

Ohio, Illinois, Michigan are in the next group.

I think it is critical for a school like Illinois to go after the top players in the state and get as many as possible. Then, it needs to find good players in Florida, Texas, California and wherever there is interest,

Illinois is helped by the reputation of the academics both here and in the Big Ten. The television exposure is good too.

No reason Illinois can't recruit at a high level. The coaches need to do a good job evaluating the talent then work hard to convince the recruits to come here. Winning, of course, will help.



Bob Asmussen wrote on July 09, 2018 at 11:07 am
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Sorry to do this, but I am going to cut off the chat for today. I am going over to the Kendall Gill golf outing to write a couple of stories.

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 asmussen@news-gazette.com.

Have a great week.