I’m on record as writing Illinois should try to rebuild its football program by hiring one of the legion of innovative coaches from the Mid-American Conference, but I don’t think Tim Beckman is one of those.
John Supinie, our GateHouse News Service beat reporter for all things Illini, has two sources telling him that Illinois will hire Beckman to replace Ron Zook and could make the formal announcement as early as Friday.
My problem with Beckman is which side of the ball he is known for.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (Bowling Green 2001-02), Michigan’s Brady Hoke (Ball State 2003-08) and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (Central Michigan 2004-06) all got their Division I head coaching start in the MAC.
But all were known as offensive masterminds. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been told Brady Hoke had a defensive background, but his teams have always been wide-open offensively, so I will stick by my characerization. Bill Belichick was also a long-time defensive coordinator, but the Patriots have been one of the NFL’s most forward-thinking offensive teams for most of his coaching career).
Beckman came to Toledo as a defensive coach. He was the defensive coordinator for Oklahoma State in 2007-08.
If Beckman had an offensive background, Toledo losing 63-60 to NIU and then beating Western Michigan 66-63 would be a plus, regardless of the 1-1 record.
Instead, being the first team I ever heard of to give up 63 points in back-to-back weeks and not come out behind on the scoring end is a big negative.
And remember how that NIU game ended? Toledo held a four-point lead but NIU had a first down inside the 10 in the final minute and had already scored 56 points. One of Toledo’s assistant coaches kept begging for Beckman to call a timeout, but Beckman refused to call timeout. By the time NIU scored, only 19 seconds remained. Toledo still reached midfield, but ran out of time to kick a tying field goal. Yet Beckman still stubbornly insisted he was right not to call timeout, saying:
“If we would have stopped them, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, correct? Because we would have won. So stop them. Make the play that you’re supposed to play.
“Thank goodness it’s a game and it’s not life. You can’t say timeout in life. Stop them.”
Actually, you can call timeout in life. That’s basically what Thomas Jefferson was calling for when he advised: “When angry, count to 10 before you speak. When very angry, count to 100.”
And, besides, no one was asking Beckman to coach life. Just a football game. And the main reason to use timeouts is to save time for your team to score. He flat-out refused to do that. He said he didn’t want to give NIU time to talk things over and come up with a better plan on how to score. Like the Huskies needed any more help that day. Everything they were trying was working.
They say insanity is doing the exact same things over and over again and expecting a different result. Expecting the Toledo defense to stop NIU that day simply because that was their “job” was an insane coaching move. Not giving your equally good offense a final chance was doubly insane.
If the Illini hire Tim Beckman to replace Ron Zook, they may actually be going down in football IQ, not up.