Illinois Fighting Illini football coach Tim Beckman addressed the media regarding Illinois’ 2014 recruiting class this afternoon. His National Signing Day press conference took place about 90 minutes after the presser of NSD presser of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.
In his opening remarks, Fitz did say “once again we dominated Chicagoland.” But he did not take any direct shots at Tim Beckman or the Illini. However, we cannot say the same about Beckman, who took a not so subtle jab at his in-state rival.
“We signed four football players out of the state of Chicago, as we call it and that’s more than the actual team that’s in Chicago signed. So we’re proud,” Tim Beckman said.
Ok, so where do we begin in breaking down what’s wrong with this soundbite?
1.) There is no “actual team” that plays Division I FBS college football in the city of Chicago, Northwestern is geographically the closest, so we can safely assume he’s talking about NU.
2.) Beckman often refers to Northwestern as “that school upstate” in his press conferences, emulating what Ohio State legend Woody Hayes used to say regarding Michigan: “that school up north.” Not saying the actual school name shows disdain for the hated rival. Also, since Tim Beckman took over the Illini program, there’s now a Northwestern N-cat logo with a circle and a line through it in the Illini team meeting room. So I think we know who Becks is talking about here.
3.) Chicago is not a state, but I understand that Tim Beckman did not mean that literally. I think he’s referring to the second city as a “state of mind” in a way. Like Margaritaville.
4.) Tim Beckman doesn’t need to be talking smack about NU considering that Fitzgerald has beaten him in both of their meetings. In the first meeting, NU trounced the Illini 50-14.
5.) Yes, Tim Beckman is correct that his total of four Chicagoland prospects: Nick Allegretti (Frankfort, IL), Matt Domer (Hazel Crest, IL), Julian Hylton (Tinley Park, IL), Mike Dudek (Naperville, IL) is more than Northwestern’s three: Justin Jackson (Carol Stream IL), Clayton Thorson (Wheaton, IL) and Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook).
Of course, NU’s three Chicagoland recruits are all four star prospects and Beckman has ZERO four star prospects in his recruiting class.
Then there’s the fact that this is Fitzgerald’s highest rated recruiting class ever. Not to mention every recruiting evaluation service places Tim Beckman’s haul as second to last in the Big Ten. Scout ranks NU’s class 13 spots higher than Illinois. 24/7 Sports ranks Northwestern’s class 27 spots higher than the Illini.
So, if there’s ever a day that Tim Beckman should not be taking a direct shot at Pat Fitzgerald, today would be the day. But it’s a very bold move by Tim Beckman to say the least. Quoting the movie Dodgeball: “interesting strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for him.”
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports Radio. A former writer for NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Follow paulmbanks