I should save copies of things I’ve written that I never post on the blog. It would be quite the blooper reel. The post I wrote last night was so bad you might have stopped reading for a month. Just awful. I read it again before I deleted it and physically cringed. Twice. I can’t believe I almost posted that.
On to the final post-KFHB mailbag. If I didn’t get to your question, put “hey moron – you never answered my question last time” in your email the next time I do this, and I promise to feel guilty and pick your question. And thanks to all that sent questions.
With Butkus in as O-line coach and the talk of zone blocking, we will have the personnel to match that? Which current linemen are best suited for that system?
The first name that comes to mind is Alex Hill. In Rantoul this summer, he looked like Jon Asamoah II to me – big, mobile, blocks well in space. You have to be mobile if you’re going to block in a scheme like that, and I think that Hill can be that guy.
Another guy might be Jake Feldmeyer. He was Graham Pocic’s backup all season and didn’t play very much, but he’s a smaller, more mobile guy. Maybe a switch to a more spread-like zone blocking scheme would move him up into the rotation in one of the guard spots. Feldmeyer will be a junior next fall.
But again, we’re making some assumptions here that the new offense will be a true spread utilizing zone blocking principles. That will probably be the case – Tim Beckman ran that kind of scheme at Toledo – but there’s always a chance the new offensive coordinator has different ideas. We shall see.
So bowl games are supposed to have an electric atmosphere. And really big bowl games have a really electric atmosphere. Obviously, this was not a ‘big’ bowl, but how would you rate the atmosphere of the game – as it might compare to a game you’ve been to recently? Does the name of the bowl fade away after the kickoff or does it always feel like the ‘Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl’ with two .500 or sub .500 teams playing or does everyone get swept up in the local pageantry and what-not?
It was a bit harder to get a read on the atmosphere at this game, given that I sat in the press box. And this one was a bit different given that it was held in a baseball stadium. Students were sent to the temporary bleachers in the outfield, Illini fans were sectioned in different decks – it was a lot different from, say, the Liberty Bowl in 1994.
But the feeling after the victory – especially from the field with the fans trying to get close to the players – was as fun as it gets. It was great to see. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure if we’d even bring 1,000 fans to the game. West coast, interim coach, team on a 6 game losing streak, etc. I figured most everyone would stay home. But there were definitely many more Illini fans than the supposed 1,800 that bought tickets through the school. I’m guessing thousands more purchased tickets at the box office (or on the street), so the groupings of orange as seen from the field after the game were a bit surprising. Still the smallest Illini bowl crowd of any game I’ve been to, but loud and boisterous nonetheless.
And as I said during the week, bowl trips are incredibly fun. A pep rally in Union Square with the 3-in-1 echoing off the downtown buildings. A luncheon in a hotel ballroom with players and cheerleaders and bands. Even the knowing nods you give on Powell Street to another fan walking past you wearing orange are fun. If we go to a bowl again next year, everyone must go. Trust me, you’ll have a great time.
With the coaching staff nearly finished, what are your thoughts? I think we’ll really miss Vic Koenning next year, and I don’t think Coach Tenuta will be able to copy what he accomplished with our defense. What about the rest of the staff? Who do you think will be the offensive coordinator?
Justin sent this email in that tiny window where John Tenuta was going to be our defensive coordinator. So if you know Justin, please don’t give him a hard time.
Here are my coaching staff thoughts. Well, first, here’s a compilation of rumors and tweets as to the last 4 coaches will be. That twitter suggests that Willie Martinez (former Georgia DC) will be the defensive coordinator, and that Billy Gonzales (LSU passing game coordinator) will be our OC, and that the final two coaches will be Richard McNutt and Eddie Faulkner from Northern Illinois. If true, I really, really like how this staff is setting up recruiting-wise. If not true, I’ll delete this post later and deny I ever wrote it.
Here’s the recruiting acumen from the 4 coaches rumored to be filling the final 4 spots on the staff:
Billy Gonzales (from LSU)
If the rumors are true and Gonzales is our offensive coordinator, I think it’s a home run. I think he’s one of the top 20 recruiters in college football. He built monster classes as Urban Meyer’s recruiting coordinator at Florida before moving on to LSU. He would single-handedly keep us connected throughout the state of Florida in recruiting. It would be such a great hire, I refuse to believe it’s true because I don’t think I’d be able to stand the disappointment.
Willie Martinez (from Oklahoma)
If he’s the DC, I like him much better than Tenuta, at least recruiting-wise. Georgia fans will laugh (he and his defensive staff were the fall guys after Georgia’s disappointing 7-5 season in 2009 even though their worst season was 38th in Total Defense), but I’d be very happy to get him. In his last two years as Oklahoma’s secondary coach, he’s been recruiting Texas and Georgia. Yes, please.
Richard McNutt (from NIU)
McNutt was a cornerback at Ohio State who hails from the Chicago area (he went to Rich East HS). I’d love to have a young assistant coach with Chicago connections on the staff (he’s a man – he’s 30). Tour Chicagoland high schools with a former Ohio State player and a coach named Butkus? Yes, please.
Eddie Faulkner (from NIU)
Faulkner is another young guy (34 years old) who was a tailback at Wisconsin. He was offensive coordinator at Ball State for a few years (lost his job when the head coach was fired), and last year he was running backs coach at NIU. Looks like he recruits Chicago and Indiana for NIU, and I’m assuming he would do the same in Champaign.
Please note that other than Twitter rumors, I have no inside information that these four gentlemen will round out the coaching staff. But if the Twitter rumors are true, that’s quite the recruit-y staff that Tim Beckman is putting together. Lots of proven recruiting track records, and lots of young coaches. I like that a lot. But all of that leads to one buzzkill question:
Can they coach?