Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas took to the airwaves recently and made a couple of statements that need to be addressed with regards to Head Football Coach Tim Beckman.
First and foremost, Tim Beckman will be retained.
Mike Thomas did not dance around the question posed by WCIA’s Matt Wettersten on Monday, and was very direct in his comments when he said, “Tim Beckman will be coaching the team next year.” So, just like that, the only vote of confidence in Tim Beckman that truly matters is out there for public consumption and all public speculation about his future can cease and desist for at least 1 more season.
Honestly, it’s the right call with the current state of this program. The Illini have made positive strides forward both on and off the field under Beckman’s guidance. At this point, he deserves the opportunity to get this program over the hump next season because, quite simply, it isn’t going to happen any faster by hitting the reset button right now.
While most fans don’t consider a 4 win season a success, it does represent a 100% improvement over last season, and the team actually had an opportunity to win the Penn State, Northwestern, and Indiana games which would have put them into a bowl game.
I’ve long felt that the growth of a program that’s at rock bottom should look like this:
Lose Big – Lose Close – Win Close – Win Big.
Apparently, to some degree Mike Thomas must feel the same way because the second important statement he made happened during an interview on Monday with Lon Tay and Jeremy Werner on the Tay and J Show on 93.5 in Urbana when he spelled out his expectations for next season. “I would hope we are right there with talking about being bowl team, with being bowl eligible.”
Those 3 Big Ten losses must turn into wins next season and Beckman must guide this team to a bowl game. While Thomas did not say 6 wins is the magic number for Beckman to keep his job, as soon as he said bowl game that is exactly what he means.
The writing is on the wall for Tim Beckman heading into next season, and as a fan that writing is not unreasonable in any way. The Illini must continue to improve as a program, and they must make it to a bowl game. Anything less will signal the end to Beckman’s tenure at Illinois.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.