Illini Hiring Toledo's Tim Beckman: Little Sizzle or Steak

Illini Hiring Toledo's Tim Beckman: Little Sizzle or Steak

Ohio State hiring Urban Meyer this was not. Utah hiring Urban Meyer this could possibly be.

Even though it’s not official yet, conventional wisdom, the status quo and 4 out of 5 dentists agree: Toledo Rockets head Coach Tim Beckman will soon become the successor to Ron Zook at Illinois. This Illini head coaching hire has far less pizazz and excitement than any hire in recent memory. And that could be bad.

Then again the Zook hire had plenty of hoopla, and much of it was for the wrong reasons, so maybe going vanilla and “meh” is the right thing this time around?

I’m glad Illinois Athletic Director took some big swings, even if he whiffed on all of them.


Two days ago, we were all convinced Houston’s Kevin Sumlin was a done deal. It only looked that way because Sumlin sold the Illini a bill of goods. He simply used UI as leverage. It doesn’t sound good but it happens all the time. See Matt Painter at Purdue with the Missouri thing.

Thomas was willing to spend boku bucks and we all like to hear that. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t get his top choices Chris Petersen away from Boise State or Butch Jones from Cincinnati. Thomas hired Jones once already, pulling him up from Central Michigan to Cincy. This followed his other big hire at Cincinnati- Brian Kelly from Central Michigan.

Thomas has a history of hiring candidates who were already head coaches. He prefers this method over talented coordinators. Obviously, he likes to dip into the Mid-American Conference to find his candidates as you can see from the CMU hires.

But why no Pat Narduzzi (DC at Michigan State) or Paul Chryst (OC at Wisconsin)? Perhaps they’re just not going anywhere? More likely, we all overrated the value of the Illinois job. Especially in this crowded college football head coaching market: UCLA, Texas A&M, Arizona State, I’m not including Penn State in there, because that situation looks radioactive right now.

Former Illini offensive coordinator Paul Petrino left the Illini Monday to return to the same position at Arkansas after the incumbent Garrick McGee left the Razorbacks to take the head coaching job at UAB. Petrino’s offense broke all the important school records during his rookie year here, and had a nice first half in 2011. But the unit looked like they weren’t even trying anymore after week 6. They seriously went MIA. Life goes on without Petrino.

So you wanted a BCS program coordinator instead of a MAC coach who went a very uninspiring 21-16 with the Rockets?

With Beckman as Defensive Coordinator, Oklahoma State was 101st in total defense in 2007 and 93rd in 2008. YIKES!

There’s no reason to think the Illini will keep Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning aboard and I think that is a huge mistake. He’s done wonders with the defense in two years, turning four no-name players into NFL prospects. And he’s a fun soundbite. You gotta keep him in town. He’s not a bad plan C as a head coaching candidate. I mean, he couldn’t be any more worthless/lifeless than Lou Tepper, right? Tepper assumed the position in the same exact same manner Koenning could.

Let’s conclude with some pros and cons of the Beckman hire


-Connections/worked under Jim Tressel (could also be pro)

-Zero brand recognition, won’t sell tickets

-No track record, hasn’t accomplished all that much


-14-2 in MAC conference play. This hire is all about finding a way to win in conference, something Zook just couldn’t do to save his life

-Great recruiter, with excellent ties in Ohio, the fertile recruiting ground. Hey, isn’t the buckeye state the state which produces more legendary head coaches than any other? Oh wait, Zook is also from there.

-Connections/worked under Urban Meyer (that’s why I opened with an analogy to him) and Mike Gundy (could also be con)

Mizzou did alright in pulling Gary Pinkel up from Toledo, so maybe the Illini could have the same success? When Mark Dantonio was hired to Michigan State in 2006 no one got excited about that; likewise last year with Brady Hoke. He was Michigan’s third choice, and all he did was take them 7-5 with a train wwreck defense to 10-2, the BCS and a great defense.

So don’t count Beckman out yet- even if there’s no sizzle at all to today’s introductory press conference.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio shows all across the world. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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