Pretty heady week for Illini fans. Basketball is back, basketball signing day is here, the football bye weeks are both over, and Wes Lunt is back. Plus I was only called "anti-Illini" once! That's an improvement! But then again, the weather has crapped out all over the country and it's not longer nice enough out for me to ride my scooter. I am not enjoying having to drive a car everywhere again, like some sort of normal person. It's terrible.
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 email@example.com. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll 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.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR How much did the transfer of Houston Bates hurt the defense this year?— Austin McDowell (@austin_mcd97) November 6, 2014
It hurt, but I don't honestly think having him on the roster would have turned any of the losses this year into wins. Bates' 11 TFL, 3.5 sacks, and 2 FF last season were great but the defense was still terrible even with him on it. He's good, but he's not so overwhelmingly good that opposing offensive coordinators would have to create multiple different schemes to make sure he isn't disrupting the backfield every play.
That being said, his four sacks this season are the most on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs roster and would rank second on ours.
Who do these guys think they are!??! #AskTCR @Champaign_Room pic.twitter.com/CnXWYvXP1h— Brad Repplinger (@brepp310) November 7, 2014
Well, he appears to be a radio host down in Atlanta who enjoys covering the SEC and the Sun Belt. Upon seeing his tweet, I was kind of hoping we'd get a nifty crossed wires situation and some Southerners would ask me random questions or he'd have to handle some of ours, but that appears not to have happened.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR Mark, have you ever met @teamcatlab ? Can you thank them for all of us if/when you do?— Matt Harvey (@mharvey847) November 10, 2014
Sadly, I have not. I'm not entirely sure they're based here in MHK and even if they were I have no idea what any of them look like. I love their surreal descents into madness and confusing the hell out of my classmates that don't know about them with it. The thing most people might not realize about us SBN writers is that not many of us actually have met others offline. I didn't meet Fornelli until this summer. Met Matt and Jim after the Purdue loss. I probably walked past Steven Godfrey when he was out here covering the Auburn game and didn't even realize it. I've run into Bruce Weber about five times this semester though, so I guess we keep the same schedule. Which makes no sense.
@Champaign_Room #asktcr Going to game this weekend, haven't been to campus in 5+ yrs. Anything new worth hitting or stick to the classics?— Don Smith (@DCSThree) November 11, 2014
Expect to be all kinds of confused. There are a handful of high rises on Green Street now. La Bamba is a mediocre liquor store. Geovanti's is long since dead.
But everything else is pretty much exactly the same, right down to the entire freaking area somehow always being under construction. You're probably best off going with what you know in regards to where you actually want to eat.
An email from WilliamsForThreeeeeee-
So, to stay alive regarding bowl eligibility, the Mildcats have to go to Notre Dame and win this weekend. What would be the funniest way for them to lose this game and secure their non-bowldom for 2014?1. Go for two again on a late TD where PAT would tie game and this time the QB doesn’t trip but crashes into the running back (see Aaron Bailey in Minnesota game).2. A late go-ahead TD gets called back on an illegal formation call (one that Fitzy designed and thought was legal and then says as much in post-game presser).3. NU scores late, has game in bag, Notre Dame scores on a TD on a desperation heave that gets tipped (oops, that was the NU-Nebraska game last year).4. NU just flat out loses to a better Notre Dame team and Fitzy blames the entire loss on the players while eschewing any responsibility.
I'm going to have to go with number four. Over the past two seasons, Tim Beckman and Pat Fitzgerald both have 8-13 records. Beckman is (understandably though somewhat unfairly) widely regarded as a complete dunce and a lot of that comes from his press conferences. He's enthusiastic and folksy and says things that allow for incredibly easy sniping. But have you ever listened to a Fitzgerald presser? They're just as bad, but less loud. I don't like either team that will be playing in that game this weekend, but now that the Domers absolutely cannot make the playoff I am completely fine with them obliterating the Wildcats.
#AskTCR Why can't we have nice things?— Turkey Truther (@Winky_Dinky_Dog) November 11, 2014
I'm hoping this is more coming from the old chestnut of responding to something bad happening by yelling out "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!" than the horribad/lazy OTE meme.
Besides, that's just not true. Have you not seen Mike Dudek, true freshman receiving god who will be in the top ten for career receiving yardage by the end of next season? We still have Josh Ferguson who has done fine despite having no offensive line to block for him. We have Wes Lunt and his howitzer of an arm back. Our rivals are in shambles. We have return god Vanjo Bentley. We're probably about to get a shiny new coach!
Our basketball team just brought in a strong recruiting class and is primed to make it back to the tournament. The bench is no longer an army of freshman and personal hero Mike LaTulip. John Groce's recruiting classes keep getting better. Indiana is still employing Tom Crean.
Things are pretty okay overall.
@Champaign_Room Best type of Captain Crunch? Original, Peanut Butter, Or Berries? #AskTCR— Zack fristad (@zfristad4) November 11, 2014
It's been a long time, but Peanut Butter>Crunch Berries>>>>>>>>>Original.
My breakfast this morning was three oatmeal butterscotch cookies (baked by the lovely Rebecca) and a Pepsi.
@Champaign_Room Could you see Leron Black starting at some point in the season, and if so who loses their starting job? #AskTCR— Jeremey Harris (@illini_16) November 11, 2014
I can see it, but kind of hope he doesn't. I want Black to be great this first year, but if he's doing so much better than one of the current starters that he forces him out of the rotation, to me that likely means that the starter is playing poorly. I'd love having Black be an absolute force off the bench this year before shifting into a more heavily-used role as a sophomore. Gah, I'm starting to get far too excited about this almost completely Grocified roster.
#AskTCR https://t.co/ujN8WhnVpu Your thoughts on this? Doesn't this make Tim look bad? Is there any truth to what he says? Excuses.— BOOERNS (@MichaelBerms) November 11, 2014
@Champaign_Room What actually is football biggest recruiting hurdle? Hint: academics is not the right answer. #AskTCR— Matthew Agase (@mattagase) November 11, 2014
Paired these two together for obvious reasons. At this point I'd hoped that Beckman would sit down in front of someone and read the things he plans on saying at his pressers so they can be vetted before being released into the world. That doesn't seem to be the case because come the fuck on now, Timmy. Does Illinois have more strict academic standards than a large number of the 127 other teams in the FBS division? Yeah. We're a Big Ten school. We're supposed to be harder to get into than places like UTEP or FAU. Are we somehow drastically harder to get into than every other school in our conference?
No. Illinois does have higher academic standards than some of our conference mates, so that much is at least true. And you can look at what happened with the Ron Zook classes when he tried landing players that aren't capable of qualifying academically. Remember the articles I wrote this summer about our old recruiting classes and how we lost most of the top recruits because they couldn't hack it in the classrooms or disciplinary issues? He's not entirely wrong, but there are better ways of saying it than that.
The biggest recruiting hurdle Illinois faces is that we just haven't been good enough on the field during the recruits' lifetimes. We're recruiting kids who were in grade school and junior high for the last Rose Bowl game. Since they've hit high school, we've been terrible. There will always be the ones that grew up Illini fans because of location (the downstaters) or family ties, but if you're just a random kid why on Earth would you have any affiliation with our football program? There's no sustained history of success that you know of. There's not true team identity that you could say "Well, at least they consistently crank out NFL players at my position". That's the hurdle.
@Champaign_Room #askTCR one bold prediction for the bball season and the rest of the fball season— Bryce (@OrangeBlueCraze) November 11, 2014
So to me, a bold prediction is entirely possible, but just not particularly probable. So saying something like "the basketball team will win a National Championship this season" would definitely qualify as bold, but it's not really on the list of things I find possible, making it a terrible choice. With that brief explanation in mind, here we go.
Basketball: The men's basketball team advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2005. Barring injuries, we know this is a talented enough team to make the tournament. John Groce advanced to the round of 32 his first year in Champaign and should have beaten Miami if not for some questionable officiating. This year the Illini finally get back to where they belong.
Football: Mike Dudek becomes the sixth ever Illini to record a 1,000 receiving yard season. To make it even more boldly flavored, I'll say he gets there by having at least two games of over 100 receiving yards over the next three. Dudek currently has 707 receiving yards this season. He has a 200 yard game (Purdue) and two 90 yard games (Texas State and Nebraska). I'm comfortable with boldly saying he'll finish with a top seven receiving yard season.
@Champaign_Room Are D.Paul signing back with illini rumors true? Haven't seen many opinions or news after that tweet yesterday #AskTCR— Jordan Barr (@jayBarr21) November 11, 2014
They are. He'll be signing early this afternoon.
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