Third down: Asmussen's random thoughts

Third down: Asmussen's random thoughts

As the conference media days approach, you might ask yourself: “Self, how do the schools pick the players they send?” Great question. With a complicated answer. The decisions are usually made by a combination of the head coach and sports information director, with the head coach often getting the final say. Some coaches are sensitive to rewarding their seniors. Some coaches will lean toward unsung players. It won’t be all quarterbacks and running backs and receivers. That would be no fun. So, you will see a sprinkling of linemen, linebackers and specialists. What the media wants is somebody with a good story. That’s where the SIDs come in. They try to bring players with something to say. But not too much. You don’t want a player to provoke everybody else in the room. Less flash, more substance is the general rule.

Ty Isaac could have picked Illinois. He could have gone against conventional wisdom and stayed closer to home for his next college. The first time the former Joliet Catholic star left the state, it didn’t work out too well. He picked Southern Cal, where he found a whole bunch of talented guys between him and the field. And when push comes to shove, the faraway school is going to play the homestate kid over the one from Illinois. It is a lesson all kids from the state need to learn. Sure, the big school with all the trophies seems pretty cool to an outsider,  but the reality is much different. Second time around, Isaac could have picked Illinois over Michigan. But he chose the Wolverines. Again, from the outside, it looks like a decent call. The Wolverines have a higher national profile and seem to be in much better shape to contend for the Big Ten title. But you never know what comes next. Illinois might be a player away from competing for the Big Ten title. We will never know if that player was Isaac. What we do know is that he will likely sit out the year in Ann Arbor, while he likely would have been eligible immediately in C-U. The clock is always ticking for running backs. Spending an extra year on the bench doesn’t make much sense. We will root for the former News-Gazette All-Stater and wish him well. That is the proper thing to do.

That didn’t take long. A year after joining the Florida staff as a quality control coach, former star quarterback Chris Leak is now in charge of the team’s receivers. Leak moved up after Joker Phillips resigned from Will Muschamp’s staff. It is the first step of what should be a long, successful climb for Leak. A favorite of former Illini coach Ron Zook, Leak has the background, talent and personality to someday become a head coach. Soon. Working in the SEC will help. The next move is to become an offensive coordinator, preferably in a BCS conference. Then, his name will be called by an AD looking for a splashy hire. You win the news conference with Leak. The guess here is he is running his own program by 2020. If not sooner.

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