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#AskTCR: Football On My Mind


Kirk Irwin

Sorry for the delay. "Mark, come over for tacos!" rapidly turned into "Mark, let's stay out drinking until two in the damn morning on a Tuesday night" and waking up on a couch in a basement that is not mine. Met some very friendly meteorologists though, so there's at least that. No email questions this week, which breaks my heart a little bit.

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. 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.


The recruiting class is off to a good start, but unless Tim Beckman pulls in a top 10 class he won't be able to rely solely on recruiting class to keep his job. He's going to need either a trip to a bowl game or five wins with multiple close and respectable losses. The uptick in recruiting is a very good sign for the future though. I think we make that bowl game and if the rest of 2015's recruiting keeps going like it already has been, the future is starting to look pretty danged bright. But the team improving is the only thing that will save Becks.


That feels a little unfair towards Bruce. Bruce was at least the coach at a D-I school and got Southern Illinois to the big dance twice (and the Sweet Sixteen once). Kim Anderson has had a very nice and productive career coaching the Central Missouri Mules over the past decade or so. Heck, they even won the national championship!

In the second division. Personally, I love this hiring because I think it's a really bad hiring and I want to beat Mizzou. I'm not doubting Anderson's coaching abilities. He did win that D-II national championship and that does require skill. But will he be able to recruit well enough for it to matter? That I'm a lot more skeptical about. It's one thing to pull a coach out of the MAC or the MVC. A school like Mizzou should never have to go down to the minors for a coach.


We did offer him a scholarship and do need a PG, so there's definitely a chance. I haven't heard any chatter towards him coming here, but it's definitely a possibility. I'd like to take a moment to point out that Tennessee did the right thing here. They hired a new coach and let the incoming freshmen leave if they wanted to. That's fairly refreshing to see from a university, so kudos to you Tennessee's athletic department. Good job at being decent humans.


I actually enjoy making this early of a prediction when it comes to football. A few qualifiers are necessary though. I am going off the current roster, so injuries and potential dismissals don't count. Second, I'm assuming Wes Lunt is the QB. Let's break this schedule down into three tiers. We could do more, but I feel this is good enough for April.

Should be wins: Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Texas State, Purdue

Toss-ups: @Washington, Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State, @Northwestern

Should be losses: @Nebraska, @Wisconsin, @Ohio State

Kind of messed up that our three most challenging opponents are all away games, but oh well. Beckman should have zero problem matching last year's win total though. If we lose to any of the teams in the should be wins tier, I'll be legit upset. So we're sitting at 4-3 with the should be teams, which gives us that five game middle stretch. I think we beat Minnesota on Homecoming and take back the LoLHat from Northwestern to end the season.

Would I be shocked if we managed to take one of the games from Iowa or Penn State? Nope. But I'm not going to predict that yet. Right now, I'm thinking 6-6 season and a bowl game. If we get off to a hot start, I'll change it to 7-5.


All of them should have. But I'm going to take this question down a different rabbit hole because I'm in charge and can do such things. If Illinois had to schedule an SEC opponent, who should they shoot for? Really, there are only three teams that fit that bill.

Missouri because of the rivalry, though I'd rather not play that current Tigers squad. They happen to be very good and we are rebuilding.

Vanderbilt now that Franklin is coaching Penn State. He was the most successful coach the Commodores ever had (not going to make a Lionel Richie joke, not going to make a Lionel Richie joke) and I'm curious to see how the program does without him. I'm not bullish on their future.

And Kentucky. Oh, Kentucky. Forever the odd duck in the SEC family. The basketball powerhouse in a conference that doesn't give a shit about that sport. I would actually love it if the Illini played the Wildcats every year in football because then I would (hopefully) be able to call my oldest sister and give her shit about it.


I have no idea but I love it. Maybe Dre Brown is as good of a recruiter as everyone has been saying. If so, he needs to move in with Miles Boykin right damn now.


Is there a chance? Yes. But only because one in a million qualifies as a chance. Side note, I will ban the first one of you who makes a Dumb & Dumber reference. But no, he's not coming to Illinois. We're not on that level yet.


My answer may change by the end of this recruiting cycle, but for right now the answer is Nunn. Megginson was a huge get, but with basketball rosters being tiny and fragile things, I think Nunn mattered more. It had been too long since we landed a Chicago basketball recruit that actually mattered and he changed that. If it leads to more Chicago hooptieballers heading to Champaign, we can mark him down as the tipping point.


Well neither team is pulling it off this year, that's for damned sure. The Illini have a better chance of it happening sooner though. The Cubs' farm system is loaded with position players who should at worst be league average players, but other than C.J. Edwards, there is no pitching to be seen. Paying market price for pitching is dangerous and usually a bad idea. So I'm going with Illinois.


Fifth. I still see both Michigans ahead of us as well as Wisconsin and Ohio State. We'll be in the upper middle class of the conference next winter.


Win. That's really it. Six wins and he's all but guaranteed to keep his job. Five with close losses and it's likely still his as well.


I've never been to an away Big Ten football game, so I am probably not the right person to do this ranking. But I will anyways. Let's go in reverse order (and I'm not going to include Maryland and Rutgers because they are mystery boxes).

Purdue has to come in last. Ross-Ade is ugly and West Lafayette really doesn't have much going for it. Also the team is terrible. Evanston is exactly like the suburb you grew up in, if your home suburb is pretentious and shitty and full of empty seats. Bloomington is beautiful, but no one there cares about football. Lovely town that would rank higher if the game actually mattered. Iowa City is the opposite. The fans care a lot, but Iowa City is a pretty meh city.

Now that they're out of the Metrodome, Minnesota can move to the middle of the pack as long as you're okay with lutefisk and freezing to death. Next would be Sparty because after the game I can't imagine actually wanting to stay and hang around East Lansing. Penn State and their creepy cultish hill clan city would be fun because Beaver Stadium is massive. Same goes for the horseshoe, but Ohio State fans are insufferable as visitors so I don't ever wish to know what they're like on their home turf. The Big House gets second because of history and Ann Arbor actually being a nice place but nothing is going to top Wisconsin. Madison is a magical place and Wisconsin fans are lucky to have it.

Edit: As my wonderful ex-girlfriend from high school pointed out to me on Twitter, I forgot to include Nebraska (her alma mater). We'll put them between Michigan State and Penn State. They have a cultish fan base, but the cult is predicated on being super nice to everyone so it's the kind of cult you can support. Other than having to live in Nebraska.


The wet socks thing just sounds like a good way to get trench foot. My go to move is to drink a nice tall glass of Chunky Gatorade. What's Chunky Gatorade you ask, somewhat disturbed? Chunky Gatorade is a cup full of whatever Gatorade flavor you have at hand with three ibuprofen and a multivitamin floating in it. The NSAIDs account for the headache while the electrolytes and the vitamin fix what you lost overnight. The absolute best though is hooking yourself up to a saline drip. It is mana from heaven.

And on that note, I'm going to reward myself for managing to get this up on time by going to Freddy's.