Illinois Football Recruiting Thread

Status
Not open for further replies.
#226      
I never understand this argument. The university has been run by several different administrations just since I graduated in ‘08.

I doubt those people look at Michigan and think “pass.” I won’t pretend to know how Michigan has been able to do it, but I doubt the powers that be aren’t interested in replicating it (or thinking Illinois is somehow above sports).
Sorry I disagree. As I said, I have followed the university and program for decades. I have seen administrations come and go since my days at the university ending in '91. This is not a political comment, but ever since the Mike White/Neal Stoner scandal the university has kowtowed to the NCAA and political correctness at great expense to the athletic programs. Whether that is the makeup of the Board of Trustees or the numerous "leaders" of the university that have been brought in since then I cannot say. But in my eyes, and again just my opinion, it has been an obvious decline from what the university used to be and its perception overall.
 
#227      
Sorry I disagree. As I said, I have followed the university and program for decades...
Certainly respect that and that you’ve had a longer view of the programs. And I obviously can’t argue with the facts—there has been a decline in sports.

I guess I just don’t get the idea that any administration would kneecap major sports given the proven benefits of having successful (exposure leading to uptick in applications; student morale; alumni pride and reconnection to the university; and above all, the $$$$). There are just too many examples of being excellent academic institutions and excellent at sports (Michigan, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA, etc.).

I agree there is an issue, but I guess disagree it’s University leadership that is the cause. Maybe a decade of below average sports is just too hard to overcome this day and age with the amount of exposure college sports gets, transfer rules, lesser ties to your home state. Texas has become a hard place to “turn around.”

There probably is a lack of urgency on the part of the administration because the TV money means we can pay coaches 3-4 million dollars from day 1 and success on the field doesn’t have to be a main driver as much as it probably did in the past. But I just don’t think they see good sports and strong academics as mutually exclusive on a quest to become a consistent top tier academic institution.
 
#228      
Chevy Chase, Maryland
I won’t pretend to know how Michigan has been able to do it, but I doubt the powers that be aren’t interested in replicating it (or thinking Illinois is somehow above sports).

Well, a $200 million athletic budget for starters, which is ~ 70% larger than Illinois' IIRC, helps. Then add in some very deep-pocketed donors (like Steve Ross and others.) Also a large, adjacent metropolitan area, filled with alums who are rabid Michigan sports fans and not diluted to the extent Chicago is by other followings. (In Detroit MSU plays serious second-fiddle to UM.) Also, more than a century of largely uninterrupted football excellence and national profile.

It's a brand that perhaps got itself started w/o help from the university admin but in the slipstream of which the university has drafted effortlessly for many decades. And it's not just football. It's everything, all the way down to women's field hockey. It also helps to have a longstanding, charismatic coach like Schembechler (or Paterno or Hayes) who becomes a power center unto himself and inextricably linked with the brand.

My favorite Woody Hayes quote, from the '60s when a local journalist asked how he would respond to criticism from faculty that the OSU football program overshadowed the academics of the university: "I disagree. Ohio State is a university of which the football team can be justifiably proud."

Said the Professor of Military History (he actually taught that course every winter until he was fired in '79.) Finger, meet eyes.

But these are rare situations in which a tremendous brand is created and sustained over many decades. And OSU still struggles with a reputation of having mediocre academics. I'm sympathetic to FLIllini's argument. But I think it comes down to who's sitting in the President/Chancellor's chair and what issues and crises command their attention, rather than benign neglect. When you're struggling to fill holes caused by dwindling state funding, as our Presidents/Chancellors have been doing for a long time, you tend to want an athletics department that doesn't create more fires to fight. When you're sailing comfortably on calm seas with a following wind you have the luxury of focusing more broadly. When I was a student, Stan Ikenberry (as President) and Thomas Everhart/Morton Weir (UIUC Chancellors) were outstanding leaders. I've not been too impressed with many of their successors. Nancy Cantor, for one, was a train wreck.

As for Michigan, I recall that Lee Bollinger (now president of Columbia Univ) wrote an entire book about the importance of athletics to the U of M brand. I read it ~ 20 years ago. And Mary Sue Coleman, his successor, stated flatly that the football program was a tremendously important asset to the university. And indeed it is.
 
#229      
Well, a $200 million athletic budget for starters, which is ~ 70% larger than Illinois' IIRC, helps. Then add in some very deep-pocketed donors (like Steve Ross and others.) Also a large, adjacent metropolitan area, filled with alums who are rabid Michigan sports fans and not diluted to the extent Chicago is by other followings. (In Detroit MSU plays serious second-fiddle to UM.) Also, more than a century of largely uninterrupted football excellence and national profile.

It's a brand that perhaps got itself started w/o help from the university admin but in the slipstream of which the university has drafted effortlessly for many decades. And it's not just football. It's everything, all the way down to women's field hockey. It also helps to have a longstanding, charismatic coach like Schembechler (or Paterno or Hayes) who becomes a power center unto himself and inextricably linked with the brand.

My favorite Woody Hayes quote, from the '60s when a local journalist asked how he would respond to criticism from faculty that the OSU football program overshadowed the academics of the university: "I disagree. Ohio State is a university of which the football team can be justifiably proud."

Said the Professor of Military History (he actually taught that course every winter until he was fired in '79.) Finger, meet eyes.

But these are rare situations in which a tremendous brand is created and sustained over many decades. And OSU still struggles with a reputation of having mediocre academics. I'm sympathetic to FLIllini's argument. But I think it comes down to who's sitting in the President/Chancellor's chair and what issues and crises command their attention, rather than benign neglect. When you're struggling to fill holes caused by dwindling state funding, as our Presidents/Chancellors have been doing for a long time, you tend to want an athletics department that doesn't create more fires to fight. When you're sailing comfortably on calm seas with a following wind you have the luxury of focusing more broadly. When I was a student, Stan Ikenberry (as President) and Thomas Everhart/Morton Weir (UIUC Chancellors) were outstanding leaders. I've not been too impressed with many of their successors. Nancy Cantor, for one, was a train wreck.

As for Michigan, I recall that Lee Bollinger (now president of Columbia Univ) wrote an entire book about the importance of athletics to the U of M brand. I read it ~ 20 years ago. And Mary Sue Coleman, his successor, stated flatly that the football program was a tremendously important asset to the university. And indeed it is.
Really great points, Altgeld. I agree that geography and Chicago dynamics are significant hurdles. Maintained success has been an issue my entire time following the program, and the magical years have been few and far between; fewer and farther in recent times especially in football. But I do remember in 2005 attending NCAA tournament workouts where the team drew 10,000+ fans. Why wouldn't the administration want to replicate that type of buzz and positive image at all cost short of blatantly cheating?

And as far as dwindling state funding, agreed maybe the university is simply doomed to follow the bleak fortunes of the state as a whole. That is certainly a huge hurdle. However, like many universities throughout the country, there has been plenty of money pumped into the coffers over the past 40 years and if they are not able to forecast, adapt, and withstand changes in funding structure maybe it is inevitable that struggles will ensue. Probably a discussion for a different time and place.

Again, great conversation.
 
#230      
So Ill
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
 
#231      
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
But Bielema is doing it with like 6 weeks before signing day, most of the best prospects already signed, and only a partial staff. And he is STILL getting guys in Lovie’s wheelhouse. So I think you may be making more of a point about Lovie than about Bielema.
 
#232      
'burbs
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
Of the two high school commits,, one has multiple SEC offers and the other has at least one. Lovie seemed to specialize in winning battles against the likes of Akron and Toledo. It's only been 1 month and I feel like there is a more coherent plan around this program than at any time in Lovie's tenure.
 
#233      
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Really great points, Altgeld. I agree that geography and Chicago dynamics are significant hurdles. Maintained success has been an issue my entire time following the program, and the magical years have been few and far between; fewer and farther in recent times especially in football. But I do remember in 2005 attending NCAA tournament workouts where the team drew 10,000+ fans. Why wouldn't the administration want to replicate that type of buzz and positive image at all cost short of blatantly cheating?

And as far as dwindling state funding, agreed maybe the university is simply doomed to follow the bleak fortunes of the state as a whole. That is certainly a huge hurdle. However, like many universities throughout the country, there has been plenty of money pumped into the coffers over the past 40 years and if they are not able to forecast, adapt, and withstand changes in funding structure maybe it is inevitable that struggles will ensue. Probably a discussion for a different time and place.

Again, great conversation.
Thanks. There's no question that we have a very large alumni base and following for basketball. I view the football coach and university president/chancellor leadership capacities as similar problems. There are very few really excellent football coaches, who can manage and develop a large staff, recruit, work the donor base, and, of course, coach and win. They're CEOs and like CEOs the talent pool is a pyramid with relatively few stars at the top.

It's the same with university leadership. Lee Bollinger at Michigan was a rock star. He is perhaps the most gifted university president of his generation. He's a Michigan law alum and wanted to become president there. However, there are few possessing his talents, and lots of competition among universities to snag them.

Then there's the question of who is hiring the presidents and chancellors. Is the Board of Trustees up to managing a search firm and choosing a strong leader? Or do they want someone malleable? What are the internal politics? How much does the state interfere in the Board. And also the old hiring decision problem: "B" boards choose "C" CEOs.

I've invoked Donna Shalala at Wisconsin many times on this forum. When she became head of Wisconsin its revenue sports were in dire shape. She understood clearly the link between a successful sports program and engaged alumni willing to give. That was the kernel that led to her hiring the ex-Miller Brewing exec as AD and then him hiring Alvarez as football coach and promoting Dick Bennett from within the UW system as basketball coach. But the hiring decision of AD was crucial after the insight Shalala had about its importance to the university.

It can be done but it starts with a visionary president/chancellor and a Board of Trustees savvy and confident enough to hire that person and give them a long leash. Oh, and it also requires someone who really wants the job (I think of Phyllis Wise, who seemed to take the chancellor job because she wanted to run the show somewhere) and is passionate not only about maintaining and increasing Illinois' stature as a university, but recognizing the brand value of consistently strong sports programs. And then has the ability to focus mostly on long-term planning rather than fighting with the legislature about money and control, and internally about politics.
 
#234      
So Ill
But Bielema is doing it with like 6 weeks before signing day, most of the best prospects already signed, and only a partial staff. And he is STILL getting guys in Lovie’s wheelhouse. So I think you may be making more of a point about Lovie than about Bielema.
Good point, Lovie needed to be doing better at this point.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when he finishes out the staff. I wanted the 2021’s to be as hyped as I am about the Beilema Hire.
 
#235      
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
Here is the difference, Bret will get more from Lovie type recruits that Lovie did. I trust BB over Lovie any day
 
#236      
Thanks. There's no question that we have a very large alumni base and following for basketball. I view the football coach and university president/chancellor leadership capacities as similar problems. There are very few really excellent football coaches, who can manage and develop a large staff, recruit, work the donor base, and, of course, coach and win. They're CEOs and like CEOs the talent pool is a pyramid with relatively few stars at the top.

It's the same with university leadership. Lee Bollinger at Michigan was a rock star. He is perhaps the most gifted university president of his generation. He's a Michigan law alum and wanted to become president there. However, there are few possessing his talents, and lots of competition among universities to snag them.

Then there's the question of who is hiring the presidents and chancellors. Is the Board of Trustees up to managing a search firm and choosing a strong leader? Or do they want someone malleable? What are the internal politics? How much does the state interfere in the Board. And also the old hiring decision problem: "B" boards choose "C" CEOs.

I've invoked Donna Shalala at Wisconsin many times on this forum. When she became head of Wisconsin its revenue sports were in dire shape. She understood clearly the link between a successful sports program and engaged alumni willing to give. That was the kernel that led to her hiring the ex-Miller Brewing exec as AD and then him hiring Alvarez as football coach and promoting Dick Bennett from within the UW system as basketball coach. But the hiring decision of AD was crucial after the insight Shalala had about its importance to the university.

It can be done but it starts with a visionary president/chancellor and a Board of Trustees savvy and confident enough to hire that person and give them a long leash. Oh, and it also requires someone who really wants the job (I think of Phyllis Wise, who seemed to take the chancellor job because she wanted to run the show somewhere) and is passionate not only about maintaining and increasing Illinois' stature as a university, but recognizing the brand value of consistently strong sports programs. And then has the ability to focus mostly on long-term planning rather than fighting with the legislature about money and control, and internally about politics.
Agree with all points here. This encapsulates my thoughts on the admin and much better than my original post was able to convey. It can be done.....when will it?
 
#237      
NW Suburbs
Sorry I disagree. As I said, I have followed the university and program for decades. I have seen administrations come and go since my days at the university ending in '91. This is not a political comment, but ever since the Mike White/Neal Stoner scandal the university has kowtowed to the NCAA and political correctness at great expense to the athletic programs. Whether that is the makeup of the Board of Trustees or the numerous "leaders" of the university that have been brought in since then I cannot say. But in my eyes, and again just my opinion, it has been an obvious decline from what the university used to be and its perception overall.
I agree and think that we have issues that go all the way back to the slush fund days. My opinion is that the university does not stand up to the NCAA and has never done so. If you look at some of the "scandals" from college athletics one thing they all have in common is unwavering backing of the athletic departments from the university administration. Some examples would be North Carolina academics, Kansas current basketball investigation, Ohio State tattoogate, Penn State (too big to fight all the way but jumped right behind athletics almost immediately), USC Reggie Bush era, Baylor basketball. The list goes on and on but the common thread is that the example universities don't let themselves be bullied by the NCAA.
 
#239      
Chevy Chase, Maryland
I agree and think that we have issues that go all the way back to the slush fund days.
Bingo. I've always seen that as the modern-day original sin of Illinois athletics. I'd be interested in the opinions of those who know the history preceding those times better than I do (i.e., >0) about whether our problems largely flow from that event.
 
#240      
#241      
As I was saying in Post #214

Again, the university is run by a bunch of wanna be elitists who think they are directing the Harvard of the Midwest and that sports is just an unnecessary distraction. Unfortunately they do not recognize that our society associates observable success in things such as a sports program with excellence in general. Right or wrong it just is the case.

As Loren's article states, a few recruits here and there are not going to damage the university's academic reputation. Far more damage is being done to the university's image by being a consistent laughing - stock when it comes to athletics.
 
#242      
As I was saying in Post #214

Again, the university is run by a bunch of wanna be elitists who think they are directing the Harvard of the Midwest and that sports is just an unnecessary distraction. Unfortunately they do not recognize that our society associates observable success in things such as a sports program with excellence in general. Right or wrong it just is the case.

As Loren's article states, a few recruits here and there are not going to damage the university's academic reputation. Far more damage is being done to the university's image by being a consistent laughing - stock when it comes to athletics.
The aspect that is hard to square with the Elitists angle is the "Madigan Friends and Family" admissions scandal from a few years ago. That doesn't scream out "we think we're running Harvard" as much as it screams out "this place is just another corrupt Illinois government jobs program and we're here to serve our masters" approach. Either way, no one in the University administration or the Trustees should have survived that, but here we are.
 
#243      
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
Most of his recruiting has been geared towards players who wore O&B last year, and he gets a solid A. Also he is very clearly making inroads with in-state 2022 targets. Moot point.
 
#244      
If you look at our position within the Big 10, the turning point was when Tepper was promoted to HC rather than hiring someone more competent. Outside the relatively brief slush fund and Gary Moeller eras, the football program was consistently in the top half of the Big 10. Blackman was hobbled by ridiculous non-con scheduling, but he had a winning Big 10 record and went something like 24-11 against non um/osu teams. White and Mackovic both had conference records that were well above .500. So from this standpoint, the Tepper hire was a tipping point.

2 other things to note. First, until say 20 years ago the state of Illinois turned out a lot of football talent, enough so that even if we didn't do well with the top 5 or top 10 guys in state, we could still do pretty well by recruiting the next tier player mixed with a few out of staters. Relatively speaking, the talent level in IL high schools has imploded since then. Second, UW, PU and NW all hired well, which raised the bar in terms of competition. Turner was a pretty good coach, but otherwise with Tepper, Zook, Beckman and Lovie we have been at a distinct disadvantage vs just about every other Big 10 school.

You can make all the excuses you want about the slush fund and academic standards, but the fact is these were issues during the White and Mackovic eras and we still were successful. It really comes down to the fact we have made horrible coaching hires. Luckily, I think we finally got it right with BB, so I'm optimistic we will see a turnaround with the program.
 
#245      
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
Lovie had almost zero relationships, it appears, with the state High School coaches. Do you not think that is a bit different already?
 
#246      
Peoria via Denver via Ann Arbor via Albuquerque vi
Not to be negative Nancy, but the only thing I’ve seen Bielema do that Lovie couldn’t do is hire a Linebacker coach. These recruits and transfers seem right in Lovie’s wheelhouse. Player retention has been good for Bielema. Chevy Brenson would be a welcome (re)addition at this point IMO.
I would point to the 2021 football thread for indicators on this staffs potential. Hard to see the lack of defectors as anything other than a huge plus in determining the staffs ability to attract recruits.

I suspect the transfer market will be a big win for us this off-season and next year's recruiting class is a substantial improvement from recent years (fingers crossed).
 
#247      
So is there anymore hs recruits we should be keeping a eye on that we’re actively pursuing? The last two commitments have come out of nowhere
 
#248      
The aspect that is hard to square with the Elitists angle is the "Madigan Friends and Family" admissions scandal from a few years ago. That doesn't scream out "we think we're running Harvard" as much as it screams out "this place is just another corrupt Illinois government jobs program and we're here to serve our masters" approach. Either way, no one in the University administration or the Trustees should have survived that, but here we are.
IIRC, only 2 of 9 trustees survived that scandal. I think both the president and chancellor were ousted, as well. Of course, the trustees are now appointed rather than elected so they are beholden to and at the beck and call of the governor. In Illinois, at least, that's not typically a good thing.
 
#249      
IIRC, only 2 of 9 trustees survived that scandal. I think both the president and chancellor were ousted, as well. Of course, the trustees are now appointed rather than elected so they are beholden to and at the beck and call of the governor. In Illinois, at least, that's not typically a good thing.
Not only is it not a good thing but some trustees never attended, probably never visited, and have no allegiance to the university. At least when they were elected you knew where they stood on things.
 
#250      
NW Suburbs
IIRC, only 2 of 9 trustees survived that scandal. I think both the president and chancellor were ousted, as well. Of course, the trustees are now appointed rather than elected so they are beholden to and at the beck and call of the governor. In Illinois, at least, that's not typically a good thing.
Interesting rabbit hole I went down to check how other B!G schools do it. Iowa, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue, OSU appointed. Minnesota, elected by state legislature. Michigan, Nebraska and MSU elected by the people. Indiana, 3 elected by alumni, 6 appointed by governor. PSU combination of elected and appointed. And Northwestern, who knows. BTW, Northwestern lists 67 people on their board of trustees! Compensating much!!!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.