Tupper

Tupper: Beckman's first year a colossal failure

2012-11-25T01:00:00Z 2012-11-26T13:36:20Z Tupper: Beckman's first year a colossal failureBy MARK TUPPER H&R Executive Sports Editor Herald-Review.com

EVANSTON — Tim Beckman’s maiden voyage leading the University of Illinois football program crashed near the shores of Lake Michigan on Saturday.

Just when we thought we’d seen it all from Beckman (remember Skoalgate?), he managed to get himself some new YouTube video exposure when he was penalized for getting in an official’s way on the sideline. Yep, that’s Beckman on the far right side of the screen, toppling to the turf in a way too few Northwestern ball-carriers did Saturday.

And just in case you missed it, Beckman was penalized twice for it on Saturday.

On a brisk afternoon when Northwestern’s defense seemed determined to miss tackles and give the Illini a chance, Beckman’s brood just couldn’t accept all that good fortune.

Illinois seemed intent to work its way through the unabridged book of penalties, getting one for “illegal numbering,” two for sideline interference and a handful of garden variety infractions like hands to the face, holding and false starts.

Just to make it messier, the Illini threw in four turnovers.

That made it easy for the Wildcats to celebrate their very nice 9-3 season and wait for a fancy, hand-engraved bowl invitation.

Illinois, meanwhile, will presumably stick to Beckman’s promise to feed the team steak when it wins and porridge when it loses.

This team has sucked down a lot of porridge this season. Maybe we’ll learn that malnutrition contributed to the nine-game losing streak that ended Beckman’s first year on the job.

By all accounts, the season was a colossal failure. And with attendance declining and fans grumbling, Beckman now faces his biggest challenge.

He has to become some kind of Harry Houdini, because more impressive than escaping from underwater handcuffs would be Beckman’s ability to rescue the football program from what seems to be a hole getting deeper by the day.

If Director of Athletics Mike Thomas has deep doubts about this most important hire, he’s not sharing those with the rest of us.

Instead, his confidants say he’s preaching patience, that the rebuilding process is difficult and will take time.

We agree it’s difficult.

We agree it will take time.

We may not, however, agree that Beckman is the man for the job.

We could also be wrong, and I’m prepared to eat crow by the shovel-full if Beckman has the Illini program up and running strong within the next two seasons.

I continue to believe multiple staff changes are coming. And we need to monitor what junior linebacker Jonathan Brown decides regarding an early entry into the NFL draft.

But the schedule in 2013 is more difficult, a defense that was hugely disappointing loses its best players (Michael Buchanan, Terry Hawthorne, Glenn Foster, Justin Green and, presumably, Akeem Spence).

Beckman, who sounded as though he was on an emotional edge after the Northwestern game, said with no bowl practices to plan, December will be a month for keen evaluation.

“Every one of our coaches and coordinators will get evaluated,” Beckman said. “We will evaluate our training staff, training room, everything that we have to see if there are things we can do better.

“You’re building the program and you have to make it the best you can. There are always things that need to be enhanced.”

I’d like to sit in on the evaluation Thomas does with Beckman.

I’m not trying to beat the guy up, but the evaluation should be pretty harsh when the offense, defense and special teams have all underperformed, when the football incompetence has turned off many fans and public relations snafus have turned off many of the rest.

Much needs to change, and Thomas should be thankful John Groce has taken off a little of the heat by getting the basketball team off to a rollicking start.

But this football mess isn’t going away.

Maybe there is not a coach in America who can properly fix a program that seems to have fishtailed into a ditch.

After one full season, it’s hard to look at Tim Beckman and see him as that guy.

mtupper@herald-review.com|421-7983

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(6) Comments

  1. Hlems
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    Hlems - November 29, 2012 9:11 pm
    Who is evaluating Mr Thomas? He's the guy who "over hired" Beckman! Also reduced the Illini to the laughing stock of the big ten. The situation will get worse with these guys calling the shots.
  2. VA JACK
    Report Abuse
    VA JACK - November 28, 2012 1:08 pm
    CRK,a good quote,{not a good Omen to be found}.AD says ,Beckman is his man.2 wins this year and next years schedule is brutal too.Most say they will not watch,but only death will keep me from watching.Bleachers being half full might change ADs opinion.
  3. Little Dorritt
    Report Abuse
    Little Dorritt - November 26, 2012 1:43 am
    It seems unlikely that Beckman will be fired after just one year and given the financial constraints from all the huge payouts to three other fired coaches, even though he probably should be fired. However, he does not deserve to continue to be head coach. How to resolve the problem? DEMOTE him to assistant coach or some other non-head coach position in some other capacity to continue his employment but NOT as head coach. If he then chooses to leave, he can do so, but without another Illinois gigantic buyout to get rid of another bad coach. What would be gratifying is if Illinois could get Bruce Weber to fork over some of the undeserved big Illinois bucks paid to him to finally leave the microphone and spotlight but he undoubtedly feels he deserves that money; Izzo told us all that he did. Anyway, demote Beckman and hire a real head coach this time and stop cheating our athletes in deference to bad coaches! Tyler Griffey is an excellent case in point: under Weber's bizarre coaching,he virtually didn't play. Under the guidance of a real coach, now he is playing often and well. Thank goodness he had one year to play without the oppressive stifling of the strange egotistical Weber. Unfortunately, the football seniors lost the opportunity to play under the guidance of a real coach, but at least don't subject the next years' teams to the same incompetence. Really, when the fiasco of the team misreading the signs or being given the wrong signs or whatever it was happened that day, that was a big indicator that Illinois football was in big trouble. Demote Beckman.
  4. Little Dorritt
    Report Abuse
    Little Dorritt - November 26, 2012 1:21 am
    Because I think it is doubtful that Thomas/UIUC will fire Beckman after just one year, although he probably should, especially with all the other huge payouts to three other fired coaches, there needs to be another way to address the problem. Beckman had virtually the same team as played last year, yet they performed horribly and much worse than last year, a bad year, too. So Beckman does not deserve to be head coach, yet likely can't be fired - so DEMOTE him to assistant coach and hire a new head coach, somebody who is an up and comer, a go-getter, who can maybe be hired under a one year contract (i.e. a "probationary" situation). Eastern Illinois University went from bad to excellent in its conference in just one year with just one major change: a new head coach. Don't fire Beckman but demote him, definitely, to an assistant or some other position. If he wants to leave, he can quit, but he shouldn't be head coach and firing may be out of the question, money-wise. Or, another idea is to have Bruce Weber pay the salary of a new head basketball coach since the U of I overpaid him as coach and he collected huge bucks from Illinois when he was at long last fired.
  5. Orlando Illini
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    Orlando Illini - November 25, 2012 10:13 am
    Has anyone seen a head coach with less control of his program and himself than Tim Beckman? Is there a bonehead decision he has not yet made?

    Aside from Luke Butkus, it appears Beckman hired incompetent assistants yet he places many of them in a rotation for calling plays at pre-determined times during a possession. If that were a good concept, the NFL would use it.

    He offended fans and embarrassed the Illini by setting up shop in Happy Valley to get one O-lineman who is not good enough to play a single down for the worst team in the conference. Chewing tobacco on national TV and getting multiple sidelines penalties has made him the laughing stock of the sport... especialy getting knocked on his behind.

    A 2012 team that should have been at least as good as the 2011 team went into full collapse. A previously fine defense became uncoordinated. The offense seemed to come from the playbooks of Jim Valek and Gary Moeller. Special teams often helped the opponent.

    What high school coach would recommend his players sign with Illinois?

    Reconfiguring assistants didn't save Zook's job; it won't save Beckman's.

    Whatever the price of replacing him may be, the cost of keeping him is far greater.
  6. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - November 25, 2012 9:21 am
    A well written honest appraisal.

    I dosed off on the coach, and missed the coach interference. A fitting end to the season.

    That poordige will get one every time.

    Difficult to find any reason for optimism. Next years recruiting looks below average

    Not a good omen to be found. crk
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