Nov 2, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman walks on the field prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Illinois Fighting Illini Football: Tim Beckman Puts A Number On Progress

In a recent article by Chris Johnson on SportsIllustrated.com, Illinois Fighting Illini Football Head Coach Tim Beckman ventured in to territory that could prove problematic for the third year Head Coach if things don’t go the way Beckman, Athletic Director Mike Thomas, and the fans expect them to in Champaign-Urbana this fall.

The majority of the article was fairly benign, covering topics that most hardcore Illini fans are already in tune to, but the real gem came in the final sentence when Beckman provided the following quote:

“I want this program to get better,” Beckman said. “That’s the bottom line. And that means five or six wins.”

Five or six wins.

Suddenly, progress is defined, but let’s be honest here. Without flat out saying as much, Mike Thomas has already made comments in the media previously that bowl eligibility should be the goal heading in to this season and that means six wins.

You just can’t gain bowl eligibility with five wins, and that’s the worst possible target that this version of the Illini could hope to shoot for during the upcoming campaign. It’s football purgatory. Close enough you can taste the Bowl Game swag package, but left standing outside the gate without so much as a ticket stub in hand.

I love seeing that the focus has shifted from overall program progress to on field progress, but I am left to wonder why Beckman felt the need to even put a number on it in the first place. We all know there has to be improvement on the field. It’s what everyone wants.

The only question I have is what happens if those publicly outlined goals are not reached?

My hope is that all this becomes a moot point, and Illinois takes the next step in their progression towards becoming a winning program on a year in, year out basis, but what if the unthinkable happens and they don’t?

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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