Before unleashing your vitriol on the comments section and/or my Twitter mentions, consider what the Ron Zook hire was in 2004 and where Illini football was at that point in time. Now consider where Illini football is today and compare where Lane Kiffin is in the college football hierarchy to where Zook was ten years ago.
Yes, I’ve said numerous times that Lane Kiffin embodies the term “failing upward,” (When comparing CVs, Brady Hoke is actually a better example of “failing upward“) but maybe now he’s starting to settle in to a level commensurate with his talents and abilities.
Here’s the food for thought on Kiffin taking over:
Tim Beckman isn’t fired yet, and we don’t know if Lane Kiffin is even interested
Some of you probably want this idea to die a slow, painful, tortured death. However, you realize that Lane Kiffin would be the proverbial “logical next step” after Ron Zook’s failed regime. I don’t know what the next logical step is after the dumpster fire that’s been 2012-present. It’s not Beckman’s fault he was offered and got this job. What’s become of Illini football today is more the fault of Athletic Director Mike Thomas than it is Beckman. It’s hard to figure out if Kiffin would even want this gig.
Illinois has a very real chance of becoming the ugliest bowl team in college football history, saving Beckman’s job
Penn State is 2-4 in conference, and it’s a very ugly 2-4, with narrow escapes over Rutgers and Indiana. Illinois gets them at home, and they really should have won in State College last year versus a Nittany Lions team that was much better than this year’s version. The Northwestern Wildcats don’t currently look like a team that could beat anyone right now.
An upset over Iowa is not going to happen, so forget that. Illinois has achieved their four wins by an average margin of just 7.5 points. When you realize that two of those wins came over mid-majors, and a third versus a lowly FCS opponent…and really the Minnesota win is the only thing Illinois football can hang it’s hat on this fall. The average college football fan has not even heard of the other three teams the Illini beat.
Illinois’ five losses have been an average margin of 23.6 points. Which says it all right there.
If Beckman can pull off six wins, he’ll probably get a bowl bid, and that would give Thomas cause to keep him.
It would be the wrong decision, but you could at least understand it. If Beckman finishes with four or five wins, then Thomas has no choice but to jettison him.
Illini football had issues being relevant even when they were winning
The 2014 Illini could become the ugliest bowl team in history and that would probably surpass their own “record” of sorts.
Flashback to October 2011- Illinois was 6-0 and ranked #15 in the country. They still had trouble selling tickets. Fans were still calling for the head of Ron Zook even as Illinois was having their best start in a half century. Obviously, those fans calling for Zook’s head, as well as the fans who remained apathetic, were totally in the right. They must have known what was coming. Illinois became the first 6-0 team to finish 0-6, then played in, and won the most depressing and pointless bowl game imaginable just after Zook was relieved of his duties.
Lane Kiffin is the only “splash hire” who would likely even consider this job
Illini football needs to do something drastic in order to get people to care again.
You laughed at my Bobby Petrino idea a couple years ago. (You were right to do so as it was a laughable proposition) But who’s laughing now?
Petrino has already recovered from his disgraceful sexual quid pro quo scandal and emerged with a better job.
Yes, right now Louisville is a better, more relevant football program than Illinois. UL is in a much better place. If you want a splash hire, then Lane Kiffin might be your only choice. I cannot stress how nationally irrelevant Illinois football truly is. Since 2012, the only program storyline that anyone has wanted to discuss anywhere is “How hot is Tim Beckman’s seat?”
It’s an awful truth.
In reality Layla Kiffin has nothing at all to do with this discussion and evaluating the validity of Illinois hiring her husband, but she bears mentioning because the world wide web seems to be obsessed with her. She is SEO gold, a search engine cash cow, the new “Erin Pageviews.” Why? I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Just be aware that search engine users are more fixated on Layla than Eric Clapton. (Sorry, I mean Derek and the Dominoes)
And maybe without Layla Kiffin, then possibly Tosh.O doesn’t do his hilarious Lane Kiffin spoof last month. (It is uncanny how much comedian Daniel Tosh resembles Lane Kiffin) And this matters because it’s publicity. It’s indicative of the national attention hiring Kiffin would bring to Champaign. It’s not exactly the type of attention you want necessarily; and it’s probably not the kind of attention that is based on merit or persists.
However, it’s something. It would be a pulse for a program that’s been flat-lining for three straight seasons now.
Admit it, you were ten zillion times more interested in exploring the Lane Kiffin idea than reading a preview of the Iowa game. Again, another awful truth.
Paul M. Banks owns, operates and very often writes The Sports Bank.net ,which is partners with Fox Sports. Read his features stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks). His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN 2
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