Koenning: 'Fresh start' good for players
CHAMPAIGN — No more complications. No more wondering if the interim coach will stay with the new staff.
"I actually think it's a little cleaner," Vic Koenning said Thursday. "I've been through these before. For the players' sake, it might be just as easy to have a fresh start."
A day after telling Tim Beckman that he was going elsewhere, Koenning resumed workouts for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
"You weigh everything the best you can," Koenning said. "It was a tough decision, but it was one I think we needed to make."
Koenning wouldn't say where his next job will be, but Internet speculation has him joining Larry Fedora's staff at North Carolina.
"There's been a bunch of opportunities," Koenning said. "Matter of fact, I got a call from someplace right before I walked on the field, pretty salty. I told someone I'd join their staff. They've got to be the ones doing all the releasing on that."
Illinois started the practice on the Memorial Stadium turf but moved inside because of strong winds.
"We really looked like a confident team out there today on both sides of the ball," Koenning said. "Guys are really starting to have a feel for what we want to get done.
"Defensive guys were extremely chippy. That's what you've got to do on defense."
Missing part. Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore wasn't at practice Thursday. Instead, he was out recruiting for his new boss, Beckman. The popular Gilmore will remain on the Illinois staff.
"Fantastic," Koenning said. "I told Coach Beckman that any of the defensive staff would be a tremendous asset to him and the team.
"Keith's a great coach. You look at the players he's brought to the forefront in the two years I've been here. He couldn't be doing a better job."
Waiver granted. The NCAA will allow Illinois to have more than nine assistant coaches on staff. The school asked for a waiver as Beckman puts together his staff.
Currently, the team is right at the number and likely will go over next week if Beckman hires more assistants.
No contact. Wyoming offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, who was Beckman's boss at Bowling Green, hasn't been contacted about a similar position at Illinois, sources said.
Brandon is preparing the Cowboys for Saturday's New Mexico Bowl against Temple.