Yes, it was a FCS opponent; and one that was very mediocre in the FCS last year at that. And it went down to the last 40 seconds. And the Illini football team only out-gained the SIU Salukis by just 57 yards and….well, you get the idea. A 42-34 win over a FCS team projected to finish in the middle to middle bottom of the conference does not elevate Tim Beckman and the Illini football program very much.
If you thought Beckman was on the hot seat before today, it’s radioactive now.
I’m not saying he’s in immediate danger of losing his gig; I’m just saying all those Illini football critics got more ammunition today.
Whether Beckman is feeling the heat or not regarding his job status he won’t say to the media. And he shouldn’t. That’s his business.
But he was feeling the meteorological heat today. On the radio postgame, Beckman said of the 104 heat index on the field:”I haven’t weighed myself, but I’m soaked right now. And I’m the only idiot wearing a coat out there.”
I’m sure a lot of that sweat was nerves as the Salukis marched right down to the goal line in the final minute and were just one yard (and an additional two point conversion) from tying it in the final forty seconds.
“Although it was not a glorious win, I was proud of the way the team fought. Have to make strides,” Beckman said postgame.
“We gave up some big plays and we turned the football over. Can’t do that and expect to be successful,” Beckman continued.
This Illini football game was very reminiscent of an Illini football game in 1998; also versus an FCS opponent. Against Middle Tennessee State University, the Illini broke an 18 game losing streak. In that game Rocky Harvey announced his presence to college football by running for 225 yards. I was a student then and I remember him doing a Heisman pose in front of the student section. We left the stands and rushed the field and the Illini football team came back from a 20-7 deficit to win 48-20.
This, similarly less than impressive effort versus a FCS opponent, ended a 9 game losing streak. And this Illini football team also looks like a 3 win team. (Or worse). ’98 Illini football was 3-8.
Still, some positives to take away
Illinois QB Nate Scheelhaase threw for a career high 416 yards passing. (28-36-1, 2 TD) The first Illini football player to top 4 bills in a game since Juice Williams ’08 vs the Minnesota Golden Gophers. WR Ryan Lankford set a new career high in receiving yards with 115. This is the second time he topped a C-Note.
Absalom, Absalom! SIU QB Kory Faulkner went 25-40-0 for 312 yards passing and three TDs. But for Faulkner, it was sound and fury signifying nothing as the Salukis eventually fell (barely).
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)