April 30 Bob Asmussen chat

April 30 Bob Asmussen chat

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 11:00am

What does Luke Ford's waiver denial mean for the Illinois offense? Will the team add more players during the summer? How is recruiting going for Lovie Smith's team?

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 April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture

Welcome to another Bob Asmussen chat. I will be here for about an hour.

Plenty has happened since we last met, including the NCAA's denial of immediate eligibility for Illini tight end Luke Ford. It is not done yet.

Most of the Illinois spring sports are rolling and the winter sports got a boost when Kofi Cockburn signed with Brad Underwood's team. I can't wait to see him on the court.

This is a huge year for Illinois football recruiting. The staff needs to take advantage of a solid start and land a good class.

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


Jim Klauser wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am

Bob, I have a two part question: First, do you feel Luke Ford with the attorney he has retained for his appeal has a good chance of approval by the NCAA? Secondly, Do you know of any WR in the transfer portal the Illini are actively recruiting now Brissett has decommited? Thanks for your hard work!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture

Jim Klauser,

Thanks for the kind words.

Luke Ford, his attorney and his family will do everything they can to make him eligible for this season. Will it work? I'd have to call it a 50/50 proposition. The fact that he got turned down initallly hurts his cause. The fact that other players in similar or less compelling situations got approved helps him. It is important that the Ford camp go into the process very level-headed. Lay out the information and hope for the best. Certainly, public sentiment is on his side. But I'm not sure that will be a major factor.

If it is possible to get Georgia's help that would be a positive. I can't believe the NCAA will go against the wishes of the school where the guy just played. Why would Georgia help? Because someday, it might need the cooperation of Illinois or another Big Ten school to get a player on the field sooner.

This whole thing would be easier if the NCAA would adopt the one-time transfer rule it uses for every other sport. But I don't see that coming soon.

The portal is jammed with players, including former Illini Lou Dorsey. There are a bunch of players Illinois could go after. The key is to get guys who 1) have the talent to play in the Big Ten and 2) have an interest in Illinois. It's critical that Lovie Smith, his assistants and recruiting staff scour the list, look for connections and get to work.

I believe there will be least one more transfer receiver join the program. I will try to come up with a short list for this Sunday's football page,

I have some Illinois facilities questions. Anonymous User wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am

What do you think of the commit and sudden de-commit of the Simeon OL prospect?  Seems like we can't hold onto kids, or he was conflicted about his early choice huh? Do you think the negative recruiting will start early because of what seems like a good start to FB recruiting for 2020? Do you think its good for kids to commit this early, or are thay doing themseleves a disservice by doing so? The kid says he still sees the Illini in the picture, but do you really see that as a possibility?  I think it was big because he is obviously a good player, but he was also from in state and in particular Chicago whee we have a problem getting any conststency in recruiting  there. Hopefully he'll reconsider and maybe we can get some other players in this in state class.  Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture



Marcus Harper is a talented player. His decommitment is not a good thing, but it not devastating to the program either.

What Illinois should do with Harper is get to the root of why he changed his mind. Treat it like an employee exit interview and learn from what he tells you.

I do think other schools are going to use the recent lack of success against Illinois. That has been happening for years. And Illinois is not the only school that it works against.

Ron Zook did a good job recruiting Illinois by overwhleming the state's schools with attention. His coaches knew the important people involved and they managed to land many high-level players.

Lovie Smith got behind early in his tenure, but seems to be making up for it now with the latest additions to his staff.

Because of the early signing date, it is helpful for Illinois to start lining up recruits in the spring and summer. The tricky part is hanging onto them.

Honestly, what will help as much as anything is a good start to the season. It's easier to tell the top players "change is coming" if they see proof on the field. Even a .500 season, which is possible, will be enough to help turn the program.

Illini Football Fan wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am

Bob -

What are the lesson(s) learned from recent players (WRs) flipping back to original or other schools? Who are possible WRs that we can flip from other schools, if any? Based on the transfer portal, who would you list as possible gets for the Illini? (especially with grad transfers for QBs, WRs, and OLs)


Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am
Profile Picture

Illini Football Fan,


I am going to take a deep dive into the transfer world for Sunday's paper. I will come up with at least three guys Illinois should go after. I might expand the list to 10.

I credit Illinois for aiming for a top player by trying to get Jeff Thomas back home. He would have made a huge difference in the Big Ten. Ultimately, he decided the safer move was to stay at Miami. I sincerely hope it works out for him,

Staying put is generally going to be the easiest move for most players. Having an unsettled situation at quarteback would help Illinois to convince players to transfer. That isn't the case now. If M.J. Rivers, Matt Robinson or Isaiah Williams become the clear-cut starter in 2019, recruiting receivers will be enhanced.

Anonymous User wrote on April 30, 2019 at 11:04 am

What happened to Cam Thomas and is he still playing football? I had high hopes for him.

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture



That's a great question. I will check this week with his high school coach and put the information at the start of next week's chat. I know he wanted to continue to play college football. I have not had the chance to talk to him since he left.


I have some Illinois facilities questions. Anonymous User wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Okay, how despicable is the NCAA and their decision making?  Two QB's leave their programs, one from Georgia the other from OSU. Both transfer to schools over 100 miles away. Luke Ford transfers so his 88 year old Grandfather, in fragile health, can see hm play. Georgia was ok with this. The other kid out east so he can be nearer his ailing mother. The NCAA tells him it doesn't matter your Mom is getting better. Of course we know the rest. And of course we know what schools carry the most weight with the NCAA which is all about money. Did they feel sorry for OSU that they would be down a QB? It would have been more of a hardship for that program and player to deny the treansfer. That must be it huh? I think if you presented the facts of the situations to any one of my 5 grandkids, (ranging in age from 8-16), they could have come to a more logical and emphatic decision. I think if they were younger they would have made a better decision. And yes I am an Illinois fan. But I think the kid out east had an even better argument. Very disgusted with the NCAA and I hope these kids lawyers win there cases!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture



I agree with everything you wrote. I would like more transparency, which is the only way we will ever find out what really happened.

At some point down the road, I hope all the parties involved are able to tell the public what really happened.

All cases are not created equal. I get that. But the NCAA is creating its own problems by seeming to make very odd decisions when it comes to the transfers.

The good thing for Illinois is that Luke Ford will eventually be allowed to play.

Panera Guy wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm


Love the chats, thank you for taking the time to do them with us. 

I’m going to rephrase my question from last week. I love a good conspiracy as much as anyone, can you say, with all honesty, that after the Luke Ford decision that it’s not obvious that the NCAA has a personal grudge against the U of I? This is retaliation for support of the Chief, I just believe it. If it were Ohio State, Notre Dame or any other “NCAA darling” he would’ve won on the first try, probably within days of applying. I feel better getting that off my chest. 

2nd question, will you please beg Mikey Dudek to play one more year??

Thanks again, keep up the great work!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture

Panera Guy,


I don't believe the Luke Ford denial is related to the school's support of the Chief. Illinois followed the rules and has been allowed to host NCAA events since. So I don't think there is a grudge, otherwise Illinois would never host an event.

The NCAA claims to take appeals on a case by case basis. I guess I will believe that until there is solid proof that is not the case. But I wish there would be more openness about the entire system. It has become another hard to explain situation. The NCAA has too many of those.

It would be great to see Mikey Dudek back on the field. But I think he has made a decision to leave on his own terms. The worst thing would be to see him come back and get hurt in a way that would hamper his ability to live a normal life. He tried hardeer than anyone I have ever seen. His body simply didn't cooperate.


Bob Asmussen wrote on April 30, 2019 at 12:04 pm
Profile Picture

I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks for all of your great questions.

I will be back next week 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 everybody. Stay dry.