Nov. 20 Bob Asmussen chat

Nov. 20 Bob Asmussen chat

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 2:00pm

How did Illinois look against Iowa? Who will Lovie Smith consider for the defensive coordinator position? When will the team land its next commitment?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Sorry about moving the chat to Tuesday, but I had to finish our 83rd All-State team, which will run Thursday. Check it out if you get a chance. Lots of guys who will go on to play at the next level.

Hope everyone is having a great week. It is pretty hectic at my end because of travel plans. I will be going to the Illinois-Northwestern game on Saturday. The Wildcats have clinched the Big Ten West and will be looking for another win.

The 63-0 loss to Iowa was the worst I have ever seen Illinois perform. It failed in every phase of the game. Best bet for the team is to move on and forget about it. Good time to play a rival.

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

 

Anonymous User wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I have watched Illinois FB for going on 60 years. I remember the Slush Fund Scandal.  I remember the days when Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern games were just about always counted on as wins. About half way back in those years Wisconsin hired Barry Alvarez who was a good coach and an AD who hires good coaches. Iowa brought in Hayden Fry and then Kirk Ferentz. Northwestern hired Gary Barnett and now Pat Fitzgerald, who is never leaving by the way. I have watched the Illini fumble through just about all of those years with just a few exceptions. Why can't we have any kind of sustained success. I don't expect the Illini to win the Big Ten every year. But answer me why we can't be the equal of the afore mentioned programs? Or for that matter be better than the likes of Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers, or Purdue? Or why can't we be even consistent and successful enough to occasionally challenge the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, or Michigan State? We are surrounded by enough talented recruiting areas to bring in talent aren't we? We are upgrading facilities aren't we? Is the quality of the academics at this school and the Champaign-Urbana area appealing enough? I just don't understand the results. I remember when I was younger Illnois was considered a sleeping giant. If they could only get someone who could recruit and sell the program. I remember Dick Butkus once saying he tossed around the idea of becoming coach because he felt he could recruit better for his alma mater. Its very frustrating and I am not getting any younger. Thanks for listening.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Anon,

 

That's what we are here for, to listen. I agree 100 percent. Illinois should be able to win at least at a moderate level. The school hasn't had the right person at the top and when it did, like with Ron Zook, it fired him, I would say most of the mistakes at Illinois have been at the administrative end. Look at the pool of potential candidates when Lovie Smith was hired. Would the school have been better off with Dino Babers or Jeff Brohm? Pretty easy answer.

Anonymous User wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

The true mark of a coaching staff in a rebuilding mode is for their teams to be better than the previous year. To show improvement. The Illini have doubled their win toatal from 2 to 4. But are they better. Offensively you ccould see they are. Defensively? What do you think? Lovie being a defensive coach should answer for that I would think wouldn't you? Is his scheme working? Doesn't seem to be does it? Do you think he will adapt and change coaches and philosophy like he did on offense?  Seems like it would be good for his future to do so wouldn't it. I saw the thought about bringing Vic Koenning back. Couldn't hurt would it? Seems like it the long run it would be wise to do so. Change has improved the offense, but will he be willing to do this on the defense side? I would think both his short term and long term future would depend on it.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Anon 2,

 

Lovie Smith inherited a team that went 5-7 with an interim coach. He has not won five games in any of his three seasons, though he can hit the number with a win at Northwestern.

The number of quality players who left the program has been a huge problem. Though they were not all stars, they were valuable enough that they are helping at other places. Ke'Shawn Vaughn is having a big season for Vanderbilt.

On the defensive side, you are right, changes need to be made. Lovie Smith should do what he did with the offensive coordinator position: Look at the teams that are doing well and go after a couple of them. I think he needs to be open to a change in his defensive philosophy, which might not work at the college level. We can all make changes for the better if we are willing to listen.

I like the idea of Vic Koenning coming back. I'm not sure how well he would mesh with Lovie Smith, but he did a great job when he was here. He would be the one hire who would excite the fan base.

 

 

 

Anonymous User wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

I live up in the NW suburbs of Chicago. The climate toward Ilinois sports particularly FB is tepid at best. Seems odd when I would think at least half of the student body are probably from within 75 miles of Chicago. I don't know if that is fact, I just read that a few years ago. I know everyone loves a winner and a consistent loser is looked at with only apathy, unless your the Cubs of course. But even Cub fans expect more now. Nothing against Lovie who is a good man. But........ Do you think we should have shot the wad and hired a hire profile college coach or even a lesser assiatnt to tackle the rebuild? Would someone with more and recent college experience have been better equipped for the job?  I am willing to stay the course here, and I am not trying to play Monday morning QB. How attractive is the Illinois job anyway?  Just wondering.

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Anon3,

 

I still think it is an attractive job, though probably not thought of as highly as it was after Ron Zook was fired.

It's a great school academically and that's a good starting place. Recruits and more important their parents care about that.

There are quality players in the state. The facilities are improving. There is a lot of tradition. C-U is a great place to live. And the school has shown the wilingness to spend money on both the head coach and his staff.

I don't think a change is coming this season, but if one does down the road, there will be a lot of quality people interested in the position.

I think the program is a sleeping giant, but it is a very deep sleep.

Major Tom wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Bob:  I think Lovie just sat down on the Hot Seat.  This cannot go on.  I, myself, hope he shows some integrity and does the right thing and steps down and forfiets any buyout...but he won't.  How do you spell Lovie Smith?  How about...INFLEXIBLE!  Things will not change next season either. Sad days for the University of Illinois.  I have been a major fan of the Illini for 61 years and have never experienced anything close to this past season...IT HURTS!!  Rod Smith should be retained, if he should so choose to stay, his offense is fun (except for last Saturday) to watch.  I fear that there will be a mass exodus of players come December and after...I hope not, I hope the players vow to rectify this past season.  Things cannot get any worse if Lovie decides to go elsewhere.  Oakland could use him, or the Cardinals or even the Jets...they all suck too!

Sorry to be so negative but I am pretty "Low" at the moment...but I will get over it and be ready to begin again next August, I always do!!

Later My Friend,

Major Tom



 

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Major Tom,

 

Great to hear from you as always. I agree that Lovie Smith will not resign of forfeit his buyout. He will be here for 2019. Beyond that is to be decided.

We will be watching Rod Smith. I think it is important for Illinois to keep him. Hiring a guy at his level with a coach on the hot seat would be impossible. Better idea is to make sure he is around.

We will find out a lot about the character of the current team. If they stay, it will be a very positive sign. Understand that some of the guys who left after last season were told to go by the staff. I don't think that will happen as much this season.

Have a great T-Day.

Jim - from Mis-ery wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Bob: I read your article about how things "feel" now vs. other football turnarounds for the Illini. Things to consider? 1. We will have virtually no experience at QB next yr., 2.No one other than Roundtree and possibly Milan looked like Big Ten caliber defenders this year, 3. If Bush and Corbin move on our running game will be quite abit deluted, 4. We are recruiting not "enough" good caliber talent and too many projects that won't have an immediate impact for next year. Smith is at a critical point. IF he can shake up the coaching staff and gain some recruiters, hire a Defensive coordinator and give him the reins, and figure out WHO is our best choice at QB who can run and deliver the ball.......we should be able to keep from regressing. Will that be enough to sooth a tortured fan base? GO ILLINI !!  

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Jim,

Great points about the past turnarounds. The QB talent and leadership on those teams was vital.

I am guessing Isaiah Williams will have a chance to start at quarterback. Never easy to count on a freshman, but he might be dynamic enough to give it a go.

I think changes on defense are critical. It's the only quick fix that will work

On recruiting, I think the staff should look to junior colleges for more help. Five players the level of Del'Shawn Phillips would help the program.

The fan base needs to see wins against good teams in order to buy in again. That makes the Big Ten opener next season against Nebraska next season a critical game. Though Nebraska will be a lot better. If that game is competitive, it will enhance the feelings of the fans.

Major Tom wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Hey Bob:  Back again!  Question...who was the DC back in 2007?  I believe his name started with a G, something like Gruder or some such spelling.  If I remember correctly or incorrectly...the Illini went like from the number 97 in the nation on defense in 2006 to something like number 23 in the nation on total defense in 2007...a dramatic reversal in one season under Coach G!  So, it can be done, if done right.  I remember that he (Coach G.) retired or resigned after the 2007 season due to personal reasons, which I don't remember if those personal reasons were ever announced.  Would be nice if Lovie could find someone like Coach G. to "run" his defense.  Life as to Illinois Football would be tolerable again.  Here's hoping!  Lovie is the one who needs TO CHANGE!!

Later My Friend,

Tom

  

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm
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Major Tom,

I think the coach you are thinking of is Vince Okruch, who had some differences of opinion with Ron Zook. He is now on the staff at Rutgers. I got along with him when he was here.

Vic Koenning came in 2010 and the defense improved a lot. One of his teams was in the Top 10 nationally in yards allowed.

I do think the right coach could help the Illinois defense. There are some talented players returning. But the current system in broken.

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on November 20, 2018 at 2:11 pm
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I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks for all of your great questions.

I will be back on Monday morning. If you have any questions between now and then, you can email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Feel free to go back for seconds. I probably will.

 

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