On Monday, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas announced that head coach Tim Beckman would return and be the head coach of the Illini in 2014. As Illini fans scramble to pick sides on Thomas’ decision to keep Beckman around, here are three reasons why keeping Beckman around was the right move.
1) Firing Tim Beckman wouldn’t help Illini win immediately.
If Thomas would have made the decision to fire Beckman, we all would have been back at square one. The Illini would have a new coach with a new system and a new way of doing things. There’s no guarantee that a new coach and his system would benefit the team in 2014. Then, there’s no guarantee that a new coach would want to keep the current staff around. Because of that, keeping Beckman as the head coach was the right thing to do. Illinois made so many positive changes last offseason and firing Beckman would just erase all those good moves.
2) Beckman is doing what he needs to do following Ron Zook’s last recruiting class.
When Beckman took over as head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini, he inherited a recruiting class that was the laughing stock of the Big Ten. In just one season as head coach, Beckman not only moved Illinois’ recruiting class from 12th to 8th in the conference, but he also added the depth needed to build a team.
Beckman’s plan to add the needed depth to the team is through JUCO recruits and did just that with his first recruiting class as head coach of the Illini. If one looks at the 2014 recruiting class for the Illini, one would see that Illinois already has two JUCO wide receivers (Tyrin Stone-Davis and Geronimo Allison) and one JUCO defensive back (Tyree Stone-Davis). He was also able to help the team bring in Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt.
3) The Illini are improving.
First off, for those saying that the Illini played an easier non-conference schedule, did they really? In 2012, Illinois played Western Michigan, Arizona State, Charleston Southern, and Louisiana Tech. In 2013, they played Southern Illinois, Cincinnati, #19 Washington, and Miami (OH). If you compare them, Illinois played a FCS team, a good Pac-12 team, and a MAC team both years. The only difference was that Illinois played a tougher non-conference opponent in Cincinnati compared to Louisiana Tech. Illinois also went 3-1 in non-conference games in 2013. Case closed.
Now on to the real reasoning. Illinois won a total of two games and zero Big Ten games in 2012. This year, they won a total of four games and one Big Ten game. Whether you like to admit it or not, the Illini did get better from 2012 to 2013. The offense also showed signs of improve under new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. The struggling point for Illinois this season was on defense. Therefore, why not bring in a new defensive coordinator for 2014?
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