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#AskTCR: Questions About Cliff


An excellent Halloween costume idea
An excellent Halloween costume idea

I know I mentioned it earlier this week, but I hate bye weeks. I especially hate them this season because teams are allowed to take two of them since the season for some reason I'm not even sure of nor have I ever cared to find out an answer for.

I understand the need for them, don't get me wrong, but I just find them annoying as a fan. Particularly now when I'm running a website about that team currently on a bye week. You get in to a groove once things start and then suddenly a bye week shows up and everything comes to a halt.

And two bye weeks in the span of a month?

Well that's just cruel. It also doesn't help that both bye weeks have come following losses, which means Illini fans are stuck sitting around in a bad mood for two weeks instead of one.

Hopefully the #AskTCR Mailbag will help your bye week go by a bit faster. If you would like to see your question featured here next week, here are the easy to follow instructions!

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

And now, the questions.

You know, I haven't heard a whole lot about it since Cliff originally mentioned it. Like, I know they were both going on visits to some of the same places, but I'm not sure I really buy the fact that they're a package deal now. I mean, I think they'd both like to play together in college if possible, but I don't think Cliff is going to make his decision solely on whether or not Lyle is going to go to the same school as he is.

You hear a lot about package deals in college basketball recruiting, and they don't actually happen nearly as often.

So while I think it's entirely possible that both Alexander and Lyle will end up at Kansas, I don't think it's a given, either.

I'm assuming you consider JaQuan Lyle his sidekick, and if so, the odds of both Alexander and Lyle committing to Illinois are 0%. Illinois stopped actively recruiting Lyle a long time ago.

However, as I said in the previous question, I don't think that Alexander and Lyle are a package deal set in stone. And while I do still think Alexander is going to end up at Kansas, as Alexander said himself, a lot can change in six weeks. The last official visit he has before his announcement date of November 16 is Illinois, and we all know how well John Groce has done on official visits.

And while there's nothing solid -- Cliff has done a truly fantastic job of holding his cards close to the vest throughout the entire process, as just about everything you hear about his recruitment is speculation on somebody's part -- there are a lot of people out there tuned in to this stuff that feel good about Illinois' chances.

And frankly, I don't think we can ask for much more at this point.

Who will win more games in the NFL this year -- the New York football teams (Jets and Giants) or the Chicago Bears -- David Cox

This is the first of three email questions we've received this week, which is a new #AskTCR record. So exciting. As for the answer, I don't think this one is all that difficult to answer. After the Jets beat the Falcons on Monday night the two New York teams are already tied with the Bears, even if the Jets are responsible for all of those wins.

And as a Bears fan at no point have I felt that this team was as good as the 3-0 start to the season it had. I enjoyed it and all, but I've seen this Bears team as an 8-8 team before the season started, and with all the injuries to the defensive line, I sure as hell don't think anything has changed since then.

So even if the Giants are off to an 0-5 start they are still in a division in which the first place team is 2-3, and the Giants still have four games left against that division as well as games against the Vikings and Raiders. The Jets, meanwhile, don't have nearly as many cupcake games left on their schedule, but I don't think they're as bad as everybody wanted them to be before the season.

Mark Sanchez sucked, sure, but Mark Sanchez done lost his job. So I'm going to take the two New York teams.

If you're just referring to Nebraska fans, yes they would still be just as nice.

I've never been to Lincoln but I know plenty of people who have, both as working members of the media and as fans of visiting teams. Each one of them has basically had the same story as the one you're telling. They love their Cornhuskers and if they have any anger in them about football, they save it for their Cornhuskers. They treat guests as guests and are very kind and accommodating.

As for other fan bases, I think that's an interesting concept. I don't know if fans would be meaner to visiting Illini fans if the Illini had a better football team. My instinct is to think who the fans are in person wouldn't change depending on how good the teams are. I mean, Michigan and Ohio State fans don't like each other's schools, but you don't hear about hundreds of people being arrested during their games every season.

The thing I think would change if the Illini were winning more consistently is what other fan bases would say about the Illini fan base on the internet. We'd all suddenly become assholes who think our shit doesn't stink and man we should all get lives there's a lot more to the world than our college football team.

Oh, and we'd be cheaters too. Each one of us would be buying cars for players.

If/when the NFL expands would you prefer they stay in the continental US (Oklahoma City, Portland, Los Angeles, etc) or expand outward to Honolulu or London? - bakes1412

Another email question, and another question about the NFL. My answer is continental. First of all, I don't think there's enough interest to put a team in Honolulu, so that's not going to happen. As for the London idea, I absolutely hate it. American football is to Europe as European football is to America.

Some folks are going to like it, most aren't. The other sports are just too ingrained into the culture already. You aren't taking anything over. Yet, somehow the Premier League found a way to work itself into the American television market without putting one of its teams in the United States.

If people in England want to enjoy the NFL they can do it the same was Americans enjoy the Premier League. On television. The game is better on television anyway.

I don't know that I'd call it a dress rehearsal because considering the heat that was on Tim Beckman's seat coming in to the season, i don't think Bill Cubit was brought on board to prepare for 2014. And while I think Wes Lunt is better suited for the offense, I don't think that means Cubit and the Illini are approaching this year as practice.

I mean, have you seen some of the plays that the Illini have already run this season? They're not leaving a whole lot in the cupboard.

I don't entirely agree, no. I mean, I thought Nate was playing pretty well in that Washington game early. He wasn't the one dropping a couple of touchdown passes in the first half. That was Steve Hull and Ryan Lankford. He also wasn't the offensive lineman committing penalties in the red zone.

Yes, his two worst games of the year came in the two losses, but that's what tends to happen in any loss. You don't play as well as you do when you win. Plus, let's not sit here and blame Nate for these two losses. The Illini have lost to Washington and Nebraska. Two teams that are simply better than we are.

He looked bad against Nebraska, but it's hard to look good when you've got a bunch of blitzers in your face and your receivers aren't getting open. Frankly, while I wasn't happy with Nate's performance against Nebraska, I had a bigger problem with the playcalling.

Do you have any suggestions for Illini-themed Halloween costumes that I could use this year? - Scott Stein

I think you should shave your head and go as John Groce. Then when you go to somebody's door use your magical powers to get in to their house and sit down with them on the couch. Then explain to them why instead of giving other people candy they should give you all the candy they have.

If I have to answer right now I'm going to say no. Just way too young to think that this team is going to win enough games in the Big Ten to make it to the dance. I'm hoping I'm wrong, obviously, but I feel like this season is going to be a transition year to 2014 more than anything else.

You know how a lot of people change when they come back from war? Well, having to live in Kansas is just like going to war.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

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