Ask our longtime beat writer about Josh Brent's future, his Heisman ballot, about his thoughts on Ohio State in his AP poll, about Tim Beckman's recruiting. Bob Asmussen will tackle any question during his weekly chat, which starts at 1 p.m. Monday.
Welcome back to another football chat. There will be a bit of a lull in the season after Saturday's Heisman presentation. Although, the bowls start this week.
I'm going to get to the questions and be here as long as it takes to answer them. Glad to be back on the Monday rotation.
Hope everything went well with the doc in St. Louis and thanks for doing these chats.
Tim Beckman went on record at least as early as the spring game (and maybe before) that depth was his main concern with the Illini. Yet it seems that the urgency to recruit JuCo players has been greater near the end of the season than beforehand. Is that your impression as well? Or am I mistaken, JuCo recruiting was started early, and the it's just that the commitments recently picked up?
After hearing TB's comments about depth, I expected more than just Martize Barr to commit before Thanksgiving.
Thanks for the kind words. Things are going well.
Tim Beckman knew last season that he could use some JUCO help, but couldn't get the guys into school. From what I understand, he tried and it didn't work out.
This year, he was proactive about the academic side of it, doing his best to make sure the players he recruited would be acceptable to Illinois. You are going to see a bunch of guys here for the spring semester and they should have an immediate impact on the team's depth.
There are two reasons depth is critical. First, it helps you guard against injuries. And second, it adds to the competition in practice. I think the reality for the team last year is that some guys knew their jobs were safe. That won't be the case in 2013.
With Maryland and Rutgers joining the conference in 2014, how does this affect the 2013-14 conference football schedule rotation? Do the two schools defer competing in football until 2015 and then a new 2015-16 schedule rotation replace the current one that is already in place? Or is the 2013 schedule going to be a one-off year and a new rotation begin with 2014-15? Or do 9 conference games per team appear in 2014 which would still be kind of a one off rotation for the two new teams. Thanks
I don't think any of it has been settlled yet. First, they are going to have to determine which school is in which division. There was talk that Illinois might move to the Legends, but I don't think that has been decided either.
Ultimately, I think a nine-game schedule makes some sense from a scheduling standpoint, but I think there will be some reluctance to go there because it will cost the league a bowl bid or two. The more you play against your own, the more losses you pile up as a league. I think the Pac-12 wouldn't mind turning back the clock and playing eight games. Plus, you get some inequity in terms of who gets the five home games.
I think the Big Ten wants to keep as much of the current schedule intact. And I don't sense a move toward dumping the 2014 setup completely. But there might need to be some changes.
Why has nobody been canned on this HORRID staff? I see that all are on the recruiting trail, to make no changes will be suicide for Beckman and he will be canned after next year!
I think changes are coming, probably in the next week or so. The reason they haven't been announced yet, I assume, is that the departing coaches are being given time to find other jobs. That's a traditional way of making changes.
I'm guessing you will see at least three new assistant coaches. Not sure which guys yet. And the guys who move on will hopefully have someplace to go.
No head coach wants to fire assistants that he picked. But it's part of the job and it happens a lot early in a regime.
Hi Bob -
Two unrelated questions for you.
Do you think Fitzgerald is long at NW? I saw that he is at/near the bottom of the Big Ten pay scale. And I much as I think he is a tool, I respect what he has done. How long until he bites at a big raise?
Second, whoever is responsible for putting Josh Brent on a UoI billboard should be fired immediately. Brent never graduated from UoI, much less suited up due to various off field issues. Not sure he even attended class for that matter. It is a shame that the DIA or their marketing team are desperate enough to put this idiot up as a representative for the University because he suits up for the Cowboys. As an alum, it is a slap in my face and a disrespect to all the other quality, character guys that have had some success and were passed up to represent the University. I am completely embarrassed and disgusted.
I think Pat Fitzgerald has had chances to leave and has decided to stay at his alma mater. I'm not sure I'd believe published reports about his salary. Because Northwestern is a private school, it can keep a lot of that quiet. I think he's doing well financially.
I don't know what went on behind the scenes with the billboard, but my guess is that Brent's work in the NFL was a reason he was on it. While in hindsight it looks like a bad decision, you can't blame the school for wanting to promote a guy from a nearby community.
Josh Brent has made some horrible decisions. There is no way to defend what happened. But you have to understand that he grew up in a very difficult situation. Not that that is an excuse, but he didn't have a lot of guidance growing up. Still, he should have learned from the earlier DUI and didn't. That's tragic.
Some years ago, when monday night football was introducing the starting lineups, all of the players mentioned what university they played for (as is custom) with the exception of Simeon Rice, who said, 'Simeon Rice, university of hard knocks'...Last night at the beginning of the sunday night football game, Mikel Leshoure said, 'Mikel Leshoure, champaign-urbana'. Are they embarassed to say they attended the university of illinois or just being goofy?
In Simeon's case, he was just being goofy. I think he said he regretted that later. With Mikel, I think it's more a point of pride with him toward his hometown. I'm hopefully going to talk to him soon and I'll ask him about it.
He is having a nice year in the NFL. Too bad the Lions aren't winning more. He looks like he will have a long, successful career.
- any word on any staff changes here at Illinois?
- what is your take on Brett B to Arkansas? Personally I think its a odd move. Has Wisconsin doing very well and contends for the Big 10 title most seasons. More than that, I am not sure how is offense will work in the SEC. Unless he changes his philosiphy he is a run oriented guy going into a league with high powered offenses
I think the changes at Illinois will be coming soon. I don't think you will hear about any moves until the entire new staff is complete. And sometimes that takes time.
I think Bielema to Arkansas was an odd choice for the school and the coach. But from what I understand, the school will allow him to play his own style of offense. Maybe that's what it will take to move even with Alabama and the rest. Because the old system wasn't getting it done.
Barry Alvarez was clearly puzzzled by Bielema's move.
Hope you are still feeling better and creating healthy habbits!
We all know this year was a disappointment and next year could be even worse, but my main concern is do you see Coach Beckman and company making the kinds of changes that will build a foundation for success in the future?
Much was talked about changing the culture of the program, not many of the Sr's seem to buy into that. Can this change of culture be successful?
All the best
Changing the culture can take different forms. And it doesn't always happen right away. Past successful builders in the Big Ten sometimes needed to weed out some players before they could turn the corner. The problem for Tim Beckman is that he doesn't have as much time to get it done. At least, that's the public perception.
I think there are a bunch of different ways to run a program. Bottom line, you have to believe in what you are doing and get the vast majority of the players to believe it too. That didn't happen at Illinois in 2012. But it doesn't mean it can't happen next year or the year after.
I think an infusion of players and coaches will be positive for the Beckman program.
Bob, looking back at the football season, it seems like as losses started to mount, the pressure built up, the team got tight, mistakes started to happen and the season derailed. It kind of reminds me of the season last year in both football and basketball when the coaches where fired. I think in football this year, the coaches tried to change the atmoshere around the program, but I am not sure if everyone bought in. The opposite seems to be happening in basketball this year. The culture has been changed, the players have bought into the system and they are playing looser, more confident and they are having fun doing it. What can the football coaches do to get the corner turned similar to the basketball team?
Still a fan,
I think it's hard to get players to believe when you aren't having success on the field. You can talk all you want about chemistry and family, but you need to see results. What I think you will see Tim Beckman do in the spring and summer is to push the players toward a competitive level that will give them a chance to win. More than anything, I think the school needs a good September. That won't be easy against the schedule Illinois plays, but it is possible.
The Big Ten part of the schedule, especially the beginning, is tough for Illinois. But it's got to find a way to sneak a win or two in the early going.
Tim Beckman faces a difficult task. Can he turn it around? Yes. But he's got major obstacles.
I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks for all of the questions. I will talk to you next Monday.
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