Dec. 3 Bob Asmussen chat

Dec. 3 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, December 3, 2018 - 11:00am

Who won the big awards at the Illinois football banquet? Who are the coaches targeting for the remaining spots in the 2019 recruiting class? Is there a chance the Illini will add another graduate transfer QB?

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 03, 2018 at 11:12 am
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Welcome to another Bob Asmusssen chat.I will be here for about an hour.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.I watched a lot of football and basketball. I also went to the Illinois football banquet on Sunday. It was nice to see the players, coaches and family members. There was a nice crowd at the I Hotel.

Well, the playoffs are setttled and I think the way it worked out will help in the push for an expanded field. Folks at Ohio State. Georgia and UCF would have nothing to compain about if more teams got invited. Note that basketball and other sports don't have complaints about too few spots. Because they do it right. Football still has work to do.

That's enough chit-chat, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

 

Zekiah Swamp wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am

Over the past decade the most successful Illini sport program has been Mike Small's men's golf team.  Last week two of Mike's former players, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry, combined to win the World Cup for Belgium. Yet I did not see one word of it on IlliniHQ. May I ask why?

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am
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Zekiah Swamp,

 

We ran a story about it in the print edition, but you are right, it does not appear to be on HQ. That was an oversight on our part. I will make sure the folks in charge know about it and we will try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Our company recognizes the sucess of the golf program. I have written a lot of stories over the years on Mike Small's team and anticipate doing so in the future.

Thanks for letting us know.

Illini Football Fan wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am

Bob -

We're now into the crucial weeks ahead in filling the remaining scholarships and getting the right coach hires for HC Lovie Smith.  We also have to contend with keeping as many players and coaches for sake of stability and building a better team for next year.

Who are the most likely schools who could nab OC Rod Smith away from Illinois? Will it most likely be a West Coast school? If you were Lovie and AD Whitman, how would you restructure his contract to get him to stay?  What about the other coaches in retention strategy?

What's the latest on the Football Performance Center?

Thank you.

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I talked to Rod Smith about this topic last week. He was heading to see his son Alex play in the Arizona state title game. The Lancers lost to an Arizona power for the second consecutive season.

Rod Smith said he had not been contacted by anyone. And he made it clear he loves it here. So does his family, something we tend to overlook. His daughter just started school in Champaign and I'm sure he would like her to go to the renovated Central High School down the road.

The school wants to keep Rod Smith here. It's an easy fix: Give him a big, well-deserved raise with the security of more years. And also, talk to him openly about the idea of him becoming the coach-in-waiting after Lovie Smith retires. Rod Smith wants to be a head coach and being one here would be preferred.

If he knows he has a future here, it will shut down any talk about him going somewhere else. To me, the one danger spot would be if a top Power Five program hired a defensive-minded head coach, then was ready to pay big bucks for an offensive coordinator.

I don't think North Carolina is an option, but I think Louisville might be. Colorado might make some sense depending on who it hires because Rod Smith knows the Pac-12.

 

 

Anonymous User wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am

Now that the regular college FB season is pretty much over what do you think the timetable will be for Illinois hiring their D-Coordinator and the other assistant coaches? Do you think the search will be far ranging or do you think Lovie goes to some of his old connections? Do you think there is a chance he brings in a coordinator to run his own defense, or just someone who will continue to run Lovie's system? I personally think he should scrap his system and go with something new. Lovie's system does not seem to be working in college at all does it?  He showed he was willing to change offenses and it worked, why not go that route offensively? Seems like a reasonable gamble doesn't it? One last thing, do you see a chance of bringing back Nathan Schleehasse as an assistant coach? He seems to have a bright future in coaching and he bleeds Orange and Blue. His being young and a leader seems to help him as a recruiter doesn't it?

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am
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Anon,

 

I don't think Lovie Smith will scrap his defense. He believes in what he does and no level of criticism will change that. So, I think he will either promotes Gill Byrd to defensive coordinator and brings in a new linebackers coach, or he will hire someone he is familiar with, who will keep the system in place. There might be some tweaks to the defense, but there won't be a wholesale change.

I don't think Nathan Scheelhaase will come back this season, but I do think he will be back at Ilinois in the future. Sooner rather than later. His knowledge and his personality make me think he will be a great coach and will someday run his own program. He is one of the best guys I have worked with in my 30 years here.

john in Tucson wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am

bob -- out here in Tucson, the paper says that Khalil Tate has not met with the U. of A. coach to discuss transferring, but I hope there is truth to the rumors. I am not clear: would he be immediately eligible? He has only been on Arizona for three years, I believe, but someone told me he will have graduated.

 

John in Tucson

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am
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John,

 

Great to hear from you. If Tate has graduated, he will be immediately eligible.

This might be a tough situation for Illinois. Rod Smith and Tate are very close and it would make a lot of sense for him to transfer to Illinois for his final season. He would be the starter the day he arrived on campus.

But what would that do to the quarterbacks already on campus? Would M.J. Rivers or Matt Robinson leave if Tate came to C-U? Maybe.

The long-term solution for Illinois is to find a quarterback it can use for three-plus years. Like Kurt Kittner. Nathan Scheelhaase and Juice Williams. I don't think it is good for the program to bring in a grad transfer QB every year. In fact, I would call that a mistake.

I have gotten some indication that Tate wants to stay in the West. If he is available, he will have oodles of takers.

Illini Football Fan wrote on December 03, 2018 at 11:12 am

Bob -

What's the probability that the Illini basketball team gets more wins than the Illini football team (4)?  Can this basketball team at least get two more wins rest of the season? What if Ayo (and other players) decides to transfer elsewhere? I sure hope not.

In review of the entire football season, what 3-5 teams surprised you the most? [Both in terms of exceeding expectations and falling far short of expectations]

What's in your crystal ball of the biggest surprises to possibly anticipate during this off-football season with coaches leaving certain teams and the transfer market out there? For example, will tOSU football coach Urban Meyer retire (or take a medical leave)? Will Lincoln Riley leave Oklahoma? Will Khalil Tate transfer from Arizona?

Thanks.

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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Illini Football Fan,

Lots of good questions.

Yes, the  basketball team will win more than the footbal team. The opening of the Big Ten schedule is very difficult for Ilinois, but there are some winnable games later in the season. And don't forget that Missouri is on the schedule. That's probably a win.

My surprise teams in college football are Notre Dame, Oklahoma (after losing Baker Mayfield). UCF. Northwestern and Syracuse.

My disappointments are Wisconsin, Wisconsin and Wisconsn. Remember, I had the Badgers No. 1 in the preseason. Planning ahead for 2019, I will not climb on a similar limb next season.

I'm going to guess that Urban Meyer is not back at Ohio State next season. I understand the school wants to keep Ryan Day and if he isn't promoted, he might take one of those good jobs.

 

 

Anonymous User wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I believe at the begining of the FB season the Illini were planning to take 16-19 commits for the class of 2019. With the kids leaving the past 3 months is that number up to more like 20-25 now? How many can you have on scholarship at one time and what is the approximate breakdown by class now for the Illini excluding the seniors? Do you think the Illini will look to get some assistants who have good recruiting ties with the future coasching hires? Also which do you think is better to hire, all coaching expertise being equal. Coaches who are now college assistants and know the college game better, or coaches with more pro experience but not have spent much time coaching in college. Recruiting didn't seem to have benefits in regards to Hardy Nickerson did it? I think I would go with the college coaches who better know the college experience there. Maybe they can even open up new recruiting areas also. What do you think? Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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Anon,

 

You can have 85 players on scholarship at one time. In a perfect world, you balance the classes to have 20 or so each year. The idea is to not get hit too hard in graduation.

I don't think the number of recruits in this class will be drastically altered because of the early departures. I think Lovie Smith wants to reward some of the walk-ons and will be able to do that because of the guys who left. To me, that is a good idea.

College football is all about recruiting. You can have the best schemes in the game, but it won't matter if you don't have the players.

So, I would pick assistants who know the college game and also have a great interest in recruiting. I think Lovie Smith has made some mistakes that way with earlier hires. Losing Tim McGarigle hurt. He is good at both ends.

 

Daytripper wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm

When is the early signing period?  I assume almost all of the players sign during that time, so what can we expect out of that for the Illini?  There seem to always be players that change their minds prior to signing with a team, so are there some surprises we might look for?  Finally, have we gotten to the point we can expect stability with players not transferring from Illinois?  Sorry for all the questions.  

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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Daytripper,

The early signing period starts Dec. 19. I believe most of the 11 players on the current Illinois commitment list will sign then. And I have been told there are some other players who have made a commitment, but have not yet announced their choices publicly.

Most of the Illinois work will be done during the early period. The later period will be used to finish up the 2019 class and to work ahead on 2020, which is suppposedly a better year in Illinois high schools.

I have not heard much in the way of wavering from the Ilinois commits. The most important guy, by far, is quarterback Isaiah Williams from St. Louis. He will have a chance to play early. He also seems like a good guy and a leader. That will be important for what is still a young team.

The Illinois class right now is ranked No. 66 according to Rivals.com. That is far behind the rest of the Big Ten West. The reason is partly because Illinois has a small class. And I don't think Lovie Smith really cares about the recruiting rankings. He has his own ideas.

 

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on December 03, 2018 at 12:12 pm
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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, feel free to email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

If you are in town tonight, stop by The Esquire for our weekly radio show. Former Illini linebacker and Monticello defensive coordinator Brit Miller will be our guest. Hope to see you there.

Havea  great week.

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