Illinois Football: Fan’s Take On Simon Cvijanovic


Much has been made of the recent Twitter rant of former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic. Everyone has picked up on the story, from the seldom heard from Chicago Tribune to the powerhouse that is ESPN.

I do not have all the sides. A statement from Coach Tim Beckman, a small presser by Athletic Director Mike Thomas, and a lot of hearsay is all that you can gather from this issue.

Let me preface this opinion piece by simply stating a few facts as it relates to me.

For starters, I am not completely sold on Tim Beckman as head coach of the Illini. The man has been able to increase his win total each season, so that has earned him the right to keep his job. He was able to get the players to rally last season to finish 6-6 and earn a bowl berth. However, his gaffes and his lack of PR skills are laughable.

Additionally, I take no sides in the idea of pay for play, player unions, etc. Both sides of the argument have merit, and I am not skilled to make a decision at this time on either side of the discussion.

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That said, let me get in to my take on this whole situation. Simon Cvijanovic seems like a very hurt, upset, and emotional individual. After lashing out at the coaching staff and the training staff, he went on the defensive against former and current players, as well as fans.

I can not say with certainty what happened in those locker rooms. I do not know what happened in the offices and behind closed doors. If, and that is a very big if, what Cvijanovic claims happened to him truly happened, the University of Illinois must take action immediately.

For instance, if Cvijanovic went in for a scope on his knee, and there was more of the ligament taken out than he was told, that needs to be addressed. It is my understanding that when they go in for a scope, as an MRI can not divulge everything that is actually going on there, the doctors and surgeons will repair as needed. I have a hard time believing that he was unaware of what the surgery was for, but again, I was not there.

If Tim Beckman is physically abusing his players, that needs to be addressed. If Tim Beckman is breaking up a fight and has to shove someone down, I can understand that. A disgruntled person may take offense to that, but if there was widespread physical and mental abuse, I feel like there would be more athletes, current and former, coming out in regards to that.

Guys like Ted Karras and Jihad Ward have vocally come out in defense of their team, teammates, school, and coach over the last 24 hours. Cvijanovic stated that they were doing that because they were being forced to be ‘senior leaders’ and were blinded by the program.

There is always two sides to the story. I simply do not have those sides. I have the side of Simon Cvijanovic, and I have random statements and tweets, but that is far from everything I would need to make an educated decision or far from all of the facts.

One thing is clear to me, however, as a person looking in from the outside. I have never felt that Tim Beckman was the kind of guy who could be abusive. I understand that football at all levels has this gladiator mentality and you gotta be tough,play through the pain, blah blah blah. That is the culture. Is it right? Probably not.

This was the same coaching staff, however, that held out guys late in the season that they suspected may have a concussion. They held Wes Lunt out the remainder of the season after he appeared not ready to go in his return. These guys were coaching for their lives, and from where I see things, they put player safety and health above it all.

Simon Cvijanovic is obviously hurting. Maybe right now what he needs is a friend. Someone to talk to. Simon, if you are reading this, get help. Sometimes things do not go exactly how you want them to go in life. That does not mean you should lay blame at the feet of others and burn bridges.

If this all comes to light that Cvijanovic’s rant is factual, and there is substance to what was said past speculation, then the administration needs to deal with it and end that culture at the University of Illinois. As for right now, this whole fiasco has a long, dark, road to travel before we get all of the facts.

Next: Johnny Hill Commits to Purdue

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