Five reasons for Illinois to fire Coach Tim Beckman



As it stands right now Illini football coach Tim Beckman is on the hot seat; like Three Mile Island at meltdown level hot. However, there’s plenty of time for him to fix that. I will present the case for terminating Tim Beckman today, and the case for retaining him tomorrow. I will present five points for dismissal and five points for retention. And then you can make up your mind.

Of course, your opinion and mind do not matter- only the preference of University of Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas does.  And thus far, Thomas hire of Tim Beckman has been such a disaster that Thomas himself is very much on the hot seat.

You should have seen the look on Thomas’ face when he left the field following the Illini 42-3 destruction at the hands of Michigan State. It conveyed “what a train wreck, and what can I do to fix this train wreck I have brought upon my program.”

1. What Tim Beckman inherited was not as catastrophic as what we see today

Beckman inherited a team that won consecutive bowl games and was absolutely loaded with NFL Draft picks. He’s produced a 5-14 record, 0-11 in the Big Ten. But he went 2-10 with a squad that produced four NFL Draft picks (the most of any Big Ten team) this past April. However, it’s not quite that simple. In 2009, Illini A.D. Ron Guenther did something horribly wrong. Instead of firing Ron Zook, he brought in two high-priced and flashy coordinators who took over the team and made Zook get out of his way. Although this brought the team from bad to decent/mediocre, so it looked good then, it was also rather myopic. Zook’s last two recruiting classes were horrendous (would you recruit hard if you were lame duck that just had the rug taken out from underneath you?). And that’s why Beckman was desperate to get JUCO transfers (and poach Penn State players when no other Big Ten coaches would). He predecessor left him with such little depth.


2. Tim Beckman has had a series of small incidents that added up together make him look in-over-his-head

Tim Beckman is a really nice guy who means well. He’s personable, affable, seems to have good, grounded Midwestern morals. However, his public presentation is lacking. He’s made a series of small gaffes now that taken together convey he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. Start with the opening press conference, we joked about all the lasagna references and his LOUD NOISES and I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT.

He just comes across as a mix between Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker (Chris Farley character on SNL) and Arnold Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. Then you’ve had his inability to pronounce his own player’s name, the slogan controversy, the slogan which looked like it was stolen from Northwestern, the Northwestern logo with a big circle and line going through it on the wall of the media/meeting room. And of course the sideline interference penalty at Northwestern; with the Wildcats scoring the very next play and beating the Illini 50-14.

Don’t forget the illegal chewing tobacco incident at Wisconsin. And the horrible botched attempt to poach eligible Penn State players; which yielded nothing but a lot of bad press, ill-feelings and a 3rd string OL. Who never played a down and transferred elsewhere.


3. Thomas fired Ron Zook because he couldn’t win Big Ten games. Beckman takes this Zooker shortcoming to new depths

Penn State and Indiana look like nightmare match-ups for Illinois. Ohio State is an automatic loss, so that leaves Northwestern and Purdue as winnable games

4. Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks may be a casualty to save Tim Beckman, and Beckman could be a casualty to save Thomas

Nothing about Illinois’ defense appears functional. Its opponents’ pass efficiency rating (163.4) is easily the worst in the league, allowing a runaway league-high in completion percentage (.663) and low in picks (1), this after facing not exactly a murderer’s row of quarterbacks.

Then there’s the UI run defense which has been gashed for a league-worst of 5.1 yards per carry and next-to-lasts in rushing TDs (17) and yards per game (219), exceeded only by Indiana.


5. Look at UCLA, Texas A&M…hell even look at Duke

Remember when Illinois beat UCLA in a bowl game that no one wanted to watch? It featured two fired coaches. Well, UCLA rose to #12 in the nation before being throttled by Oregon last week. A&M went from mediocrity to giving the eventual national champion their only regular season loss. They both had regime change at the same time as Illinois. I threw Duke in there because WTF??? Duke is going to back to back bowl games while the Illini can’t even win a league game to save their lives?

Bottom Line: at 3-1 in the conference we all believed that the 2013 Illini football team has made significant progress over the 2012 train wreck. Big Ten conference play has shown that there’s actually been zero progress; only easier scheduling. So, Tim Beckman needs to win those last two games to keep his job. Winning one is kind of iffy. He won’t win any of these next three. And if Tim Beckman loses all five…well, he’ll get his pink sleep by the end of that final Northwestern game.

Listen to my Illini and Northwestern reports every Tuesday morning at 10:30 A.M. on KOZN 1620 The Zone Omaha

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a regular analyst on news talk radio stations across the world; with weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS

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  1. Paul, you know I read your columns religiously, but I don’t need to read tomorrow’s. My mind’s made up. What I saw last Saturday was a travesty. It looked as if the players weren’t competing. If they were, they were horribly out of position. Either way, that’s coaching. Add to that his horribly inept recruiting and I see no other way to improve this than to raze it first and rebuild it with a quality coach. From what I understand, the facilities also need an upgrade, which isn’t Beckman’s fault, but better coaches have done with lesser facilities. A good craftsman never blames his tools.

  2. You are right on all points, I totally agree, but it’s all about the money. Where are they get the dough to do a fourth buyout? And how can they justify it?

    Some of this mess is due to the previous regime issues. but of course a lot of it IS Beckman’s.

    I didn’t hear anything about facilities

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