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Rock M Roundtable!

1 - It's Illinois Week at the Ol' Rock M!  In 50 words or less (or however many you want), give me your general impressions of where Illinois is as a program right now, and what kind of team you expect to see in 2009.

2 - Is Juice Williams underrated?  Overrated?  Both?

3 - Here's the Illini schedule: give me your predicted record.

9/5: vs Missouri
9/12: Illinois State
9/26: @ Ohio State
10/3: Penn State
10/10: Michigan State
10/17: @ Indiana
10/24: @ Purdue
10/31: Michigan
11/7: @ Minnesota
11/14: Northwestern
11/27: @ Cincinnati
12/5: Fresno State

4 - For those who pay attention to such a thing, tell me how you think your chosen MLB team did in the first few rounds of the MLB draft.

5 - Of all the sleazy, crazy old college coaches (football or basketball) out there, Barry Switzer's my guilty pleasure, i.e. the guy I love despite all the evidence showing me why I shouldn't.  Who's yours?

The Beef: Before I start…my phones (which is WAY smarter than me) told me it is ZD’s birthday…who knew?  Oh…I guess my phone did…

1 - Down from last year, and I would say make or break this year for Zook with the QB/WR he has.  However, I think the defense will let them down a bit with so much to replace, especially in the back seven.

2 - I would say neither…,he just is.  Good some games, not as good in others.

3 - you have got to be kidding…I could barely do this for Mizzou…in August.  What makes you think I know anything about Illinois in the 2nd week of June?  But good for them for playing 3 rough out of conference games….hope that does not keep them from a bowl game.  Actually…I don’t care if it does or not.

9/5: vs. Missouri - loss
9/12: Illinois State - win
9/26: @ Ohio State - loss
10/3: Penn State - loss
10/10: Michigan State - win
10/17: @ Indiana - win
10/24: @ Purdue - win
10/31: Michigan - loss
11/7: @ Minnesota - loss
11/14: Northwestern - win
11/27: @ Cincinnati - loss
12/5: Fresno State - win

4 - The Mets did not have a 1st round pick because of the F-Rod deal…which given his 15 for 15 in saves with a sub-1 ERA….I am more than fine with.

5 - I was never drawn to sleazy, crazy old college coaches (football or basketball)…not entirely sure what the draw is, but I can just feel the Dave Bliss jokes coming…

rptgwb:1. Illinois is in that tricky state of being a legitimate threat on any given weekend because of the talent they've amassed while still having a legitimate shot to lose to any team on any given weekend (Western Michigan? Ouch). Yeah, they had the Rose Bowl trip in 2007, but they're on that third tier in college football right now. They aren't Tier I (elite) or Tier II (recent track of success but questioned sustainability - including Mizzou). But they're in the mix of solid teams with the potential to make some noise or the potential to watch it all fade away.

2. Both, depending on who you ask. He's probably underrated by a lot of Mizzou fans, but Lord knows Andre Ware overrates him.

3. I see five to six losses on the schedule. I think they could very well open the season 1-4 and still make a bowl game.

4. I defer to whatever ghtd says about the Rangers' draft. And UribeAuction tells me the Rangers got a major steal with Tanner Scheppers at their second pick. So, you know, wooooo.

5. Switzer's pretty dang high on that list. Got to love a man who packs heat when going through airport security.

The Boy: a) "What makes you think I know anything about Illinois in the 2nd week of June?"  Nothing, knew this was coming.  We did this last year too.

b) I hate most sleazy old coaches because...well...they're sleazy.  But for some reason my brain looks away for Switzer, he gets humbled more and more, Steve Spurrier.  I used to HATE Ol' Ball Coach, but for some reason now I can tolerate him.  Probably has something to do with the number of games he isn't winning now...


1 - Rpt nailed it...could beat anybody on the schedule, could lose to anybody on the schedule.  I know outsiders said the same thing about Pinkel a few years ago, but I just don't know if a Ron Zook team can actually be a consistent threat--they're just too inconsistent.  They scored 42 points against Missouri and 27 against Iowa...and then 20 against UL-Lafayette, 17 against Western Michigan, and 10 against Northwestern.  They hurt my brain.

2 - If he had come up with Brad Smith's recruiting background--being a relative unknown until eventually making noise as a sophomore--I think he'd be pretty underrated at this point.  But he was a big, 4-star recruit and was considered the "OMG QB OF THE FUTURE!!!" from the beginning, and that hurt.  Because of his recruiting stature, you had Andre Ware talking him up as a future Heisman winner at the beginning of his sophomore season...after UI went 2-10 and he completed like 40% of his passes his freshman year.  At this point, I think my stat unit rankings pretty much nailed him--he's a Top 25 QB, nothing more, nothing less.

3 - My predictions will come in a Friday post.  Ha HA!  Tease!

4 - I love that the Pirates are basically saying "Idiot fans are idiots, we're not going to cave to idiot media and idiot fans just because they scream really loud, and we have a plan that we're sticking to."  I LOVED the McLouth trade (actually trading a guy at the height of his value...what a novel concept...slightly better than Dave Littlefield's "Demand a team's #1 and #2 prospects for your average to above-average player, hold out till the last minute, then cave and accept 30 cents on the dollar two minutes before the deadline" strategy.

All that said...yeah, I'm really not a fan of their first-round pick.  They stated beforehand that after Strasburg and Ackley, there really wasn't any marquee talent, and they probably didn't want to have to pay $5 million for a $2.5 million talent, and I understand that.  Plus, I understand that you can't trade down in the MLB draft.  But still...they just took a borderline first-round catcher with the #4 pick.  It's hard to get past that.  But if they do what they did last year--draft a whole bunch of guys who are considered "unsignable" and throw money at them that's way above slot and sign some of them, it'll make it better.  Loved what they did last year...this year, not so far.

5 - Um, Barry Switzer.

The Beef: Sir…if you think I am going to start looking crap up on Bowling Green to placate your roundtable questions…you’ve got another thing coming…

The Boy: Who said anything about looking crap up or being knowledgeable?  I didn't say they had to be GOOD picks...

The Beef: I see then…just another opportunity to waste time and slight effort

The Boy: Welcome to the Rock M Roundtable.

Michael Atchison: 1 - Illinois is on the precipice of both good and bad.  Their fans were teased with what was possible in a good way (two years ago) and a bad way (2008).  This could be their tipping point.  Success in 2009, and Zook could be there a long time.  Failure, and they’re going to look at all the talent on the field, and think, this isn’t working.

2 - To use Chuck Klosterman’s construct, Juice Williams is perfectly rated.  Everyone knows that he has great physical gifts and that he’s an inconsistent player.  There is no mystery to Juice.  Well, there is one mystery:  Which Juice are you going to get from day to day?

3 - Looks like 6-6, 7-5 to me.  Actually, I have no idea.  It’s not like I’ve kept up on all the developments at Indiana and Purdue.  Shouldn’t we be talking about DeMarre Carroll’s liver instead?  I know all about that.

4 - Welcome to futility, Aaron Crow!

5 - Regardless of how terrible this roundtable is, do not forget about Billy Tubbs.

The Boy: 6 - Tell us what you know about Demarre Carroll's liver.

The Beef: Atch enjoyed it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti


Michael Atchison: He needs a transplant immediately, except that he might not need one ever.  Also, DeMarre’s liver has shown improved ballhandling and a shot out to the NBA arc.

(FOUR hours later...)

The Boy:

The Beef: Game effort there…

Michael Atchison: I think the only thing worse than participating in the roundtable is reading it.

Doug: You guys haven't given up the ghost yet?

Alright fine... I'll write something.

1 - A team still wearing some hideously ugly uniforms and the Power of the Zook.

2 - Juice as a player - overrated. Juice as a name - underrated. Juice as a drink - rated about right.

3 - Without doing any research of any kind, I'll peg at .500 give or take a game. I live on the edge.

4 - Another college pitcher who played for a year in Forth Worth (what the hell is with that team?). Yeah, this will end well.

5 - Tom Penders was always funny to listen to. I don't think he exactly counts as skeezy, but what the heck?

(an hour later...)

ghtd36: Oh, hey guys. Sorry, been writing and making hilarious Microsoft Paint creations for some Web site. Anywho...

1- It's a program with an identity crisis, and one that seems stuck in a rut. It's sort of similar to Brad Smith's Mizzou: Juice Williams is certainly talented, but would the program be better off just moving on, and getting out of this rut? I say yes.

2- Juice is overrated. He's a poor man's Brad Smith, basically: inconsistency with bursts of brilliance. I do not fear the Juice.

3- Let's see. I'll go with wins over Illinois State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Fresno State. That's 7-5, and a berth in the Motor City Bowl against, oh, I don't know, Central Michigan.

4- Rangers have had arguably the best draft of any team that didn't get Stephen Strasburg. Nabbing Matt Purke, a legit Top 10 talent, at No. 14, but getting Tanner Scheppers, whom Keith Law called the fourth-best player in the draft, at No. 44, is grand larceny. Beyond that, they drafted Ruben Sierra, the son of former Ranger slugger Ruben Sierra, in the sixth round, which made me smile.

5- Mike Leach.