Tim Beckman is your New Coach of The Illinois Fighting Illini
As I am real American, I spent my day at work, toiling away at my vocation while all of you ungrateful college students sat around in your snuggies and gym shorts playing Call of Duty and browsing reddit. (Don't pretend that not how it goes, I know about Finals Week) Anyway, due to my position as an employed adult, I have not had the opportunity to properly coverFriday's breaking news that Mike Thomas and the University of Illinois have their new football coach, and it is......Tim Beckman.
Who? You may ask. Well Tim Beckman is, as my colleague put it, MAC coach du jour. While Illinois fans may have had their hopes lifted these past few weeks, with names like Paul Rhodes, Kevin Sumlin, Todd Monken and Butch Jones rattling around in our heads, today's news is probably a cold dose of reality.
I for one thought that things had shaken out nicely for a a hire that would actually lift Illinois up without having to have it hit rock bottom first. We didn't wait too long to fire Zook, this is still a 6-6 roster with lots of talent that, if properly coached could be ready to compete as soon as next year. The defense is loaded with talent and despite the losing streak, did not show even a hint of weakening down the stretch.
It was the offense and special teams that needed fixing, so some of us even allowed ourselves to dream that Vic Koenning, who in these last seven days has proved just how quality a man he is, could stay on as DC while the new coach brought in a largely offensive complementary staff.
We had the money (3 million was apparently offered to Sumlin) we now have vastly improved facilities, (ten years ago we didn't have Irwin Indoor, renovated Memorial Stadium, or the massively expensive weight room) and we have a fan base that is yearning to get really excited about football again.
If you add a Mike Leach or similar name into that equation, I find it hard to believe that Illinois would struggle to find success in the next three years.
But we didn't get any of those coaches already mentioned. We got Tim Beckman. This all seems terribly unfair to Beckman, I know, but this isn't the sort of hire we were expecting the new AD to make. It is no more a splash than Danny Hope heading to Purdue or Jerry Kill heading to Minnesota. Though I suppose, given that Thomas' two previous hires were both MAC-du jours from Eastern Michigan, I should not be surprised by this.
The fact is, if Sumlin, or Leach, or Monken wanted the Illinois job, it was was there for the taking. They didn't for whatever reason want to take it. Maybe it is a reminder that, over the last 50 years, it has been very hard to be successful at Illinois in football, and stay clean doing so.
All of that said, I am going to give Beckman his fair chance. What choice do I have? He has a track record of success with Toledo as a head coach, with a comparable winning percentage to the likes of Sumlin at Houston. His defensive background almost certainly means that Vic Koenning will no longer be with the team come 2012, and even more disconcerting, his offensive coordinator (the reason he was able to win games like this ) will be staying behind in Toledo, so it seems our offensive question marks are just as glaring as ever. (One wonders also, what the coach has to say about his defensively oriented team giving up 60+ points in two straight weeks)
Recruiting is a question mark, and he has apparently few pipelines to states like California, Texas, or Florida. I have been told that if we are to expect anything, that Tressel Era assistants will likely be seen here in Champaign with Beckman at the helm.
We are switching offenses again, turning back to the spread that we had discarded under Paul Petrino. I don't know what that means for players like Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O'Toole, but the number one priority seems like it should be retaining the quality players we can from both sides of the ball.
I am hopeful that in Beckman we have a very capable decision maker who will stress discipline and consistency. I am also hopeful that things work out the way they have for Michigan State and Mark Dantonio, or Missouri and Gary Pinkel.
This isn't me complaining about the hire. This is me accepting the fact that Illinois is not so attractive a place as I might have thought. Good luck to you Coach Beckman, because for all my complaining, winning games is all that matters, and I don't particularly care who gets this team to that goal.
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