Illinois' football team is 1-2 with Penn State coming to town. Meanwhile, if that isn't bad enough, 15 of the top 30 high school prospects in the nation have not made commitments but not a single one of them has indicated he is considering Illinois. Are Illini fans cruising on the Titanic and is that a big iceberg coming their way?
What does that say about Illinois recruiting?
"It doesn't say anything at the moment," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "It means the area they are recruiting doesn't have any top 30 players. Most of the top players in the Chicago area are committed (the Illini have landed Johnsburg's C.J. Fiedorowicz, Downers Grove South's Chandler Whitmer and Proviso East's Corey Cooper) and Proviso West's Kyle Prater still is in the mix.
"They have been hurt because their best recruiter, Mike Locksley, left for New Mexico, and his lack of presence has been felt in Maryland and Washington D.C. They thought they'd make up for that loss with new coach Mike Schultz picking up in the Fort Worth/Dallas area in Texas but it hasn't materialized yet.
"They lost of the best recruiters in the county and they aren't winning big on the field yet. If they have a good season, they'll get good players, just as they did two years ago. Illinois is one of those schools, unlike Ohio State and Michigan and Notre Dame in the Midwest, that has to win on a consistent basis to recruit good players.
"The others can do it even without good seasons because of their football tradition. What Illinois needs is better recruiters. If they don't have a good season, it's up to the recruiters to get the job done, to sell the school.
"When they were 2-10, they sold hope and had a good recruiting year. But you can't sell hope forever. Prospects are looking for more than that. I've said all along that the biggest problem with Big 10 football is the school don't pay their assistant coaches enough money. That's why they aren't competing with the SEC, which pays big money for very aggressive recruiters."
Illinois offered Larry Johnson, one of the premier recruiters in the country, a lot of money to leave Penn State. But he turned down an annual paycheck of over $400,000 to stay with Joe Paterno, who gave him a healthy raise.
Notre Dame tried to get the defensive line coach at Ohio State who recruited Terrelle Pryor but he turned down the offer to stay at Ohio State, his alma mater, for more money.
At Tennessee, former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron got $650,000 to be defensive line coach. He has a great reputation as an outstanding recruiter.
The SEC gets it, the Big 10 doesn't. You win by recruiting, by getting the best players. There are no geniuses in coaching. But some coaches are exceptionally smart in the recruiting game.