Da new coach
A new coach always revs up fans' enthusiasm.
The question "Who?" was the most common response last week to reports that University of Toledo head coach Tim Beckman is the new head football coach at the University of Illinois.
This is not a glamorous hire. But Beckman brings an impressive resume as an assistant coach as well as a successful three-year stint at Toledo to his new duties.
Illini fans everywhere wish Beckman the best of luck. He'll need it to be successful here.
It was just two weeks ago that athletic director Mike Thomas decided the football program needed new leadership and relieved Ron Zook of his duties. Then he embarked on a search for Zook's replacement, a process complicated by the reality that other universities were engaged in a similar quest.
Big names, of course, are what create enthusiasm in coaching hires. Fans at Washington State are delirious about luring former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to Pullman, Wash.
But they are no panacea. The University of Kansas' decision to hire former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has produced as many groans as cheers.
The problem with coaching searches is that more schools want big-time coaches than there are proven big-time coaches available.
If that was Thomas' goal, he shouldn't have been surprised that Illinois' mid-level status on the football pecking order meant that the few genuine stars out there — coaches like Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora or Houston coach Kevin Sumlin — were looking elsewhere.
That left Thomas to examine the credentials of the up-and-comers, hot coordinators at big-time programs and head coaches at lower-profile conferences like the Mid-America Conference.
That's where Beckman came into the picture. He follows such successful former MAC coaches as Gary Pinkel, Brian Kelly and Urban Meyer up the ladder of success.
Beckman displayed an impressive enthusiasm at his debut press conference. He's energetic and committed to producing a winner here and doing so the right way. He has all the attributes of a winner, but fans should remember that there are no guarantees.