CHAMPAIGN — Spring practice opens up Tuesday, but Jason Heggemeyer has to look ahead. He doesn’t have much choice.
The Illinois football staff is back to capacity after Tuesday’s hiring of Al Seamonson as outside linebackers coach.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman did some shuffling on his defensive staff, with coordinator Tim Banks taking over the secondary and Mike Ward coaching inside linebackers. Greg Colby will be in charge of the line.
It is Tim Beckman’s job to help woo those fans back into their seats. The second-year Illinois coach doesn’t have an easy answer for 2-10.
Depth was a concern from the start. And when he lost 86 starts because of injury (30 is a typical number, Beckman said), the problems were compounded.
“We still didn’t play well,” he said.
Athletic director Mario Moccia still plans to bring his Southern Illinois football team to Champaign on Aug. 31. By bus.
The school will be paid $350,000 to play Illinois that day. With limited travel expenses, most of the money will go into Southern Illinois’ athletic budget.
“That is very important for our fiscal health,” Moccia said.
EVANSTON — Here’s an idea for Illini planners in their latest initiative to paint the Chicago River orange.
How about beating Northwestern tonight? It’ll never be “Our State. Our Team.” if the Purple-clads from the northern suburbs keep winning.
Winning games is only part of Tim Beckman’s challenge in Year 2. Winning back fans is critical, too.
That’s why I applaud his decision to keep Camp Rantoul part of the equation.
“It being his first time at an off-campus site, Coach didn’t know what to expect last year,” UI associate athletic director Kent Brown said. “He came away very excited. He loved it.”
“We sold playing time. We sold everything but two wins.”
— UI recruiter Alex Golesh
Tim Beckman’s football operation gets a fresh start (from 2-10) with four new coaches and 25 new scholarship faces, 10 of whom will participate in spring drills.
CHAMPAIGN — Getting to Memorial Stadium was easy for the new hire. Heck, he used to play in the building. And coached there, too.
Former Illinois assistant coach Billy Gonzales, who was co-offensive coordinator in 2012, will become Mississippi State receivers coach, according to multiple reports.
Gonzales will rejoin Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen. The two worked together on Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida.