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.”
When Beckman took over for Ron Zook, there was uncertainty regarding the future of Camp Rantoul. The Illini eventually trained there last August – but only for a week.
I’m glad to report more’s in store.
“The coaches change, but we want to make sure the quality of the visit doesn’t,” Rantoul Recreation Department director Rich Thomas said. “The whole village takes pride in what goes on. It’s been that way since coach (Ron) Turner first brought his team here.”
Beckman’s second team will arrive in Rantoul on Aug. 11 and train through Aug. 20. The decision allows fans an up-close peek — all practices are open to the public — at a Big Ten program, rare in these days of secretive game-planning.
Rantoul, by the way, does it right. So good the Bears were close to committing to northern Champaign County before opting for Bourbonnais (where was the then-governor from again?). Good enough the Colts and Rams snooped around, that there’s a waiting list among high schools wanting to work out off-site.
“Everyone knows Camp Rantoul, what it is and where it is,” Thomas said.
— Jim Rossow