Feb. 11 Bob Asmussen chat

Feb. 11 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, February 11, 2019 - 11:00am

Who will replace Luke Butkus as Illinois offensive line coach? Who will work with the running backs? How many more players will Lovie Smith add before training camp starts?

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 February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. I will be here for an hour or so.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I covered the Illinois-Rutgers game. Very entertainining.

I think Illinois has a chance to finish the season with a nice run, though there are plenty of challenges left in the final seven Big Ten games,

It will be interesting to see how the team responds to a road game against a team I think it can beat. If the team is maturing as we suspect, it will show in Columbus.

Enough stalling, there are a boatload of questions waiting, Before I get started, thanks again for your participation.

Away we go ...

Jim - from Mis-ery wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am

Bob: I see the Fields kid (QB) tranferred to Ohio State without a 1 yr. penalty and people lauded his attorney as a big reason for his success. Do u think we will get Ford cleared and do u know who is doing  his representation? What is your confidence level in OUR success? Thx. Jim 

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am
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Jim,

 

 

Great to hear from you. From what I understand, most of the players asking for waivers end up receiving them. The percentage is very high. It makes sense. The NCAA is moving toward being more friendly toward the student-athlete. That used to not be the case, but the organization has undergone some positive changes.

What we don't know yet in the Ford case is the reasons he will list for making the move. If Georgia is supportive, which I imagine it will be, that will help. The fact that Ford is moving back to his home state figures to help.

I don't think it is 100 percent that he will be immediately eligible. but I think there is a strong chance it will happen.

Great timing on the question. I plan to write a story soon on Luke Ford. I will ask him who he has representing him and report it in my story.

 

Jim - from Mis-ery wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am

Bob: Great articles Sunday. You ARE the go to guy now with Loren printing more historical articles. I don't doubt that Lovie can coach, but I always felt that his staffing capabilities would be his weakness. The initial staff was too heavy on NFL people and not enough proven recruiters. Most of the NFL coaches just don't like the grind that CFB recruiting represents. Lovie has a chance to restock the staff with good recruiters and take a chance or two instead of relying on his former NFL cronies. Our next three year results depend on this. Mike Bellamy has been mentioned and is a favorite of mine for the Illinois boundaries. Other than Nathan do you have a person or two that u feel would be good here? Do u agree?.........the best coach  can't get it done without the right amount of talent. Thx.  Jim

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am
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Jim,

 

Thanks for the kind words.

I agree with you on Lovie Smith's initial staff. It's unfortunate he wasn't able to keep Tim McGarigle, who is doing very good work at Northwestern.

It's critical that the two openings on offense get filled with guys who are strong in terms of technique, but also strong recruiters.

I don't think Nathan Scheelhaase is going to come back now. He's got a really good deal going at Iowa State.

I think it is important for Illinois to have a coach with ties to the program. Luke Butkus filled that role for three years, but is gone now,

But more important than bringing in a former Illini is to hire coaches who are capable of working at a high level regardless of background.

I think Rod Smith will have a strong say in the who gets hired and I think that's a good thing. He knows a lot of quality coaches and understands more than anyone the requirements of his offense.

One name I have heard that makes a lot of sense is former Illini receiver Aaron Moorehead, who is on the staff at Vanderbilt. He is an Illinois guy and would help with recruiting in the state. He was an oustanding player here for Ron Turner and a guy I always got along with really well.

 

Zekiah Swamp wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am

Bob, Let's examine your Big Ten (16) "Wish List".  One can immediately eliminate five schools (Syracuse. Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Houston) because they are not members of the Association of American Universities (an association of major research universities).  Every Big Ten School (including Johns Hopkins, an affiliate member for Men's lacrosse) except Nebraska belong and Nebraska belonged when they joined the Big Ten.  Of the remaining five, one can immediately eliminate UNC based upon the relevations of "academic fraud" relating to their athletic programs.  Texas is out because Oklahoma is out and the fact that they were largely responsible for the break-up of the Big 12 because of their insistence that they be treated differently (i.e. better) than the other schools in the conference.  Bottom line is that the Longhorns do not make good teammates/ partners.  That leaves Missouri, Colorado and Iowa State.  Geographically Missoui and ISU make the most sense.  OBTW: You nominated three schools (Syracuse, Iowa State and Colorado) who, like Wisconsin, do not have varsity baseball programs. Another note:  Notre Dame is well aware that they sit in the middle of the Big Ten footprint, but they are also aware that their national alumni demand a national football schedule. So now for the question, what do you think of this analysis?

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am
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Zekiah Swamp,

 

That is awesome analysis. Thanks for reading it, first of all. I appreciate that you noticed.

You make a lot of great points. I didn't consider the academic component as much as I should have. Obviously, it will be critical should the conference decide to move to 16.

There were many other schools I could have included, but I only had 10.

I used to live in Ames and covered baseball games there.

One school a co-worker mentioned was UConn. That makes sense too.

If the Big Ten adds two more, and I think it will, then football will be the driving force. If you ask me, that means Oklahoma and Texas, which would push the Big Ten past the SEC as the most powerful conference in the country.

 

Illinois Football Fan wrote on February 11, 2019 at 11:02 am

Bob -

Of your wish-listed top ten schools to join the B10, will there be a slight stronger bias to select school(s) with a stronger academic profile (i.e., research-oriented university) and slightly lesser on revenue production? If so, what would these schools be? (in perhaps re-ranking these schools?)

Thanks -

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Illinois Football Fan,

 

Again, thanks for noticing.

If and when the Big Ten decides to expand, the academic reputations of the schools will receive strong consideration. But the bottom line is going to be all about football. What schools will add to the conference's value in the highest-revenue sport? That's the question that needs to be asked and if that is the case, Texas and Oklahoma come right after Notre Dame in terms of value added.

On the ademic question, I will ask my wife Julie Wurth, who covers the UI for our news section. She knows all the rankings and how the schools are perceived outside of athletics. I will get her list of 10 expansion options and report back to you in next week's chat.

 

 

Anonymous User wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Bob you were right it saying you thought Lovie would be his own DC. When he filled out his defensive staff, he seemed to really be saying I will run the defense and everything goes through me. They sure are young and not necessaily all that experienced either. Hopefully that youthful enthusiasm will work. Because of his lack of love for offense and Rod Smith's success, is it safe to say Rod will have a strong voice in who will be the new coaches for OL and RB? I think I would feel better about him making those selections. Also with Ward and Butkus went recruiting ties to Florida and Illinois. Hopefully the new DB coach will help in Florida, but I am concerned about the lack of  presence in Illinois and especially Chicag and its suburbs. I know the talent isn't what it once was, but we seemingly are an after thought at best there. When was the last time we got the number player in the state. Or for that matter a few of the top 10 players. I think for future success we have to start getting 5-6 good prospects from our state on a yearly basis to have any chance to winn consistently in the Big Ten. What do you think and thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Anon,

 

I thought Ron Zook did an excellent job recruiting in Illinois. He put the state at the top of his priority list and made sure his coaches visited the schools as often legally possible.

I think Rod Smith will be involved in hiring the two new coaches on offense, though Lovie Smith will have the final say. Both coaches know a lot of people.

I think Illinois can turn this into a positive. It can hire coaches who do good work on the field and on the road as well.

You are right that the recruiting work has to start at home. Again, I think someone with strong ties to Illinois would be a great help in recruiting. The high school coaches need  to be able to have confidence in the staff's commitment to home-grown players.

Daytripper wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Bob:

There sure seems to be a lot of turnover in the Illini coaching staff, given the place we are in the calendar.  Where do you think Lovie goes to fill the open positions?  How fast do you see him moving?  Is the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator the most pressing need, given where we are in off-season training?

Thanks, as always for the chats.

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Daytripper,

 

Great questions. Normally, I would agree that the strength coach would be a priority and it is important. But there are several staff members remaining and  the players know the work they need to get done. I would think hiring a new strength coach would be easier because of the new facility.

I would say line coach is the priority. Time is being lost now. Rod Smith needs to work with whoever the new coach is and have him ready to go for spring ball in late March. It is coming soon.

I think the two openings will be filled by current college coaches. And I think Rod Smith will have a lot of impact in the hires.

Naperville Fan wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Obviously, the substantial turnover of assistant football coaches in the past year is detrimental to the recruiting of high school prospects because of the lack of continuity the football staff has with potential recruits.  Did these coaches depart because Lovie Smith is difficult to work for or are these coaches pessimistic about the future of the program?  In general it doesn’t appear these coaches left for better positions.  I was very disappointed to see Illinois graduate Luke Butkus leave to be an assistant to the offensive line assistant coach at Green Bay.  What does that say to prospective recruits?

 

As a related issue I find it frustrating that Jeff Brohm of Purdue and P. J. Fleck of Minnesota are having more recruiting success than Illinois, even though these coaches have been in their positions for shorter periods than Lovie Smith.  I am aware that Illinois had fewer scholarships available for its current recruiting class than other Big Ten schools.  Although recruiting has improved, it still appears to be struggling

 

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Naperville Fan.

 

My understanding is that Lovie Smith is not difficult to work for. He lets the guys do their work and supports them. He doesn't try to get involved in every decision. Obviosly, he has more to do with the defense, which gives the guys on offense quite a bit of freedom.

A lot of schools have turnover. In the Big Ten, Iowa and Wisconsin are more like the exception than the rule.

Of the recent moves, I think Luke Butkus wanted to get away from the college game because of the recruiting piece. Going to the NFL as an assistant line coach gives him a chance to become the main line coach. If not in Green Bay, then in another pro city. I'm guessing Uncle Dick didn't love the move, but he also supports Luke.

Thad Ward gets a title and knows his head coach, having worked with him before.

Joey Boese is apparently good at his job, which is why the NFL came calling. Hard to blame him for leaving.

You are right about Purdue and Minnesota having recruiting success in Illinois. That faucet needs to be shut off or reduced to a trickle. In order for Illinois to have long-term, sustained success, it must get close to owning Illinois.

Rich Patton wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Can you give me information on the receivers for the FB team next year?  Will Edwin Carter be back?  How is his rehab progressing?  He looked spectacular in the one half he played before he was injured.  Is there a redshirt who will be eligible?  I have heard Loren Tate talk about a transfer that sat out this year.  Who is he and what are his prospects?  Who is AD Miller and what is his situation and his prospects?  Who else might join the team or what current players might show significant improvement?

 

Thanks - Rich

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Rich,

 

Great to hear from you. I will check on Edwin Carter's rehab. He will be about a year out this season in terms of his injury. It is possible he could be back during the year. You are right, he got off to a great start.

Ricky Smalling will be back for his junior season. I think he will be the go-to receiver. Trenard Davis and Dominic Stampley also return.

A.D. Miller is a former Oklahoma player who wants to transfer to Illinos. He has some academic issues that he is trying to clear up. I'm not sure if he will be here in the spring.

I know that Illinois is continuing to look for grad transfers at receiver.

The loss of Jeff Thomas back to Miami was a big blow to the Illinois offense.

Illinois Football Fan wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Bob -

Who wins: Luke Butkus vs Lovie or/and Rod Smith? What's the real story behind this event? A Luke problem or/and an Illinois problem? A culture problem? Who comes out on top? Will his departure tarnish his family name?

Thanks

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm
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Illinois Football Fan,

 

No way to tarnish the Butkus name at Illinois. Uncle Dick is getting a way-past-due statue. After Grange, it is the next name you associate with Illinois football.

I don't think Luke Butkus liked recruiting. I got along with him during his time here. But he is not warm and fuzzy. My guess is he doesn't appreciate the way some players need to be treated in today's football. If you watched him work in practice, you saw a guy who modeled his style after Harry Hiestand, who is considered one of the great offensive line coaches. They are very similar-type guys.

I think the NFL suits him. I don't think he will be hired a third time at Illinois.I wish him well.

Anonymous User wrote on February 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Regarding all of the student athlete transfers that take place every year.  Maybe the NCAA should just allow one transfer per athlete with no penalty of sitting out a year.  They would have to be in good standing with the current school- no academic issues or disciplinary issues pending.  After that one, each and every transfer would have an automatic wait of one year. This would put an end to applying for waivers, the non-consistency of the rulings, and the time most kids wait for the decision. 

Also I wish the talk about comparing the athletes to their coaches when there are changes or transfers would stop.  They are not on the same level. Coaches are employees who can change jobs when they want. Just like you and I can.  Most of them owe the universities money if they leave before the end of their contracts.  This is just like the world outside of college athletics.  The CEO’s/managers just have different rules and perks than the regular workforce.

Your thoughts on this.

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm
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Anon 2.

 

I love your one-time transfer rule. It makes a lot of sense. My guess is some version of that will be considered.

I agree with you that coaches moving for a new job is a different situation. But I feel for players who sign with a school because of the style the coach uses then watch as that coach leaves. Most times, players pick the school in large part because of the style/personality of the coach. I'm not sure what the answer is to that question.

 

Illinois Football Fan wrote on February 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Bob -

If you were to be an Illinois head coach of any sport, what/which sport would you pick? And why?

Of whatever chosen sport, what is your style of play?

Thank you -

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm
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Illinois Football Fan,

 

Great question. I love all sports, but football is No. 1. Plus, there are a few ideas I would like to try on offense. I would like to have an offense named after me like Air Coryell. We can always dream.

Bob Asmussen wrote on February 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm
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Wow, you overwhelmed me with great questions. Sorry to those I didn't get to.

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

If you are in downtown Champaign tonight, stop by The Esquire for our weekly radio show. Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb will be our guest. Hope to see you there.

Have a great week everybody.

 

 

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