Tate: Tough week to be an Illini

Tate: Tough week to be an Illini

These aren’t easy times.

For what seemed like the 100th time, an acquaintance walked up to complain: “I’m discouraged and I don’t recall so many of my friends feeling the same way.”

That’s the recurring theme. Tim Beckman’s Illini football team figured to have its hands full with Louisiana Tech and Penn State, and losses certainly seemed possible. But two tossup games turned into routs, and most of the 40,000-plus in attendance made early exits. Memorial Stadium in the fourth quarter has become more of a graveyard than a launching pad.

Along the way, new Illini basketball coach John Groce finished second to Notre Dame in his quest for the best guard in Indiana, Mishawaka’s Demetrius Jackson, and Illini volleyball received another setback at Purdue. The UI’s three leading spectator sports are getting hit from all sides.

Oh, and the best-looking freshman in the spring football game, Ta’Jarvis Fuller, withdrew.

Scanning the sour mood at halftime Saturday, athletic director Mike Thomas stated quite simply: “We have to earn it.”

That’s right. The Illini not only need to win some supposed tossup games, but it’s incumbent on them to win games they’re not expected to. And it must happen more than once. A single win at Wisconsin on Saturday would be uplifting, but it would also be viewed as an exception to the rule. If the Illini don’t get the ship righted at Wisconsin and Michigan, they’ll be 2-5 and in danger of being no better than .500 for the 16th time in 20 years. That is not a small sample. That is 20 years, an unmistakable trend. And the arrows continue to point down.

On the plus side ...

Come on, Tatelines, write something positive.

OK, what?

Check the points scored and the aerial production around the country. Offensive explosions are everywhere. Some of those guys look like they’re playing a different game.

In West Virginia’s astounding 70-63 defeat of Baylor, the rival quarterbacks threw for 1,237 yards and 13 touchdowns. In one game! Illinois hasn’t passed for that many yards in five games. Illinois is at or near the bottom of Big Ten statistics in scoring defense and total offense, a bad combination.

Of those teams ranked in AP’s Top 12, the winners averaged 40 points per game this past week. Georgia permitted 44 and won. Texas allowed 36 and Oregon State 35, and both won.

If you watched football Saturday night, particularly the feverish Nebraska-Wisconsin and Texas-Oklahoma State games, you came to realize these teams were competing at a higher level of intensity than Illinois. Nebraska’s offensive thrusts, with both their linemen and ball carriers, were extraordinary in a 30-27 comeback win from 17 points down. The place was jumping, which raises another question of what it meant to visiting recruits, as opposed to the large number of preps viewing the atmosphere here.

Peak performances

Some have concluded that the Illini have been unlucky in scheduling teams just as they peak. This seems true in the case of Louisiana Tech, which rolled over Virginia 44-38 on Saturday and has put up 208 points in a 4-0 start.

Well, when it comes to scheduling, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Illinois catches Cincinnati and Washington (in Chicago) next September, and these two teams pulled off two of the nation’s most stunning triumphs Saturday. With Stanford fresh off a resounding 21-14 defeat of USC, the Washington Huskies knocked off the Cardinal 17-13. And Cincinnati, which was 10-3 last season after Thomas left for Illinois, is 3-0 after nipping Virginia Tech 27-24 via a 39-yard TD pass with 13 seconds left.

Oh, and by the way, Illinois picks up Nebraska in the 2013 Big Ten opener, and follows against Wisconsin and Michigan State. Nebraska and Michigan State replace Minnesota and Michigan from the opposite division.

That’s not exactly a lineup around which to build fan confidence, what with Ohio State becoming postseason eligible and Northwestern, now 5-0, developing its own high-scoring tendencies.

That’s why, with all the key seniors on this UI team, a bowl qualifier seemed more logical this year than next. Now, having seen Illinois give up 87 points at home the last two Saturdays, neither the immediate nor long-term view appears positive.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

peterborich wrote on October 01, 2012 at 1:10 am

If Illinois football is, in your eyes, doomed to failure from now to infinity Loren, can you please do one of the following:

1.  Stop writing about Illinois football as all of your columns on the subject reflect your same gloom and doom, Bad Rock Schlep Rock, woe is me, attitude. 

2.   Retire 

Coach Beckman is here to attempt to build a program.  Short-term success would be great, but it would come through smoke and mirrors at this point in time.  Zook's recruiting fell off the table, and that fact is being reflected through this year's play.  Is anyone really surprised at the team's struggles this year, after a 2-6 Big Ten record last year?  It was a warning as to what was to come, yet a Large number of Illini fans believe Beckman is wholly to blame for this year's struggles.

RonZookIsMyCoach wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

So the fact that Zook's recruits won BACK-TO-BACK bowl games for the first time in the HISTORY of the school states that they fell off. Let's face it the cupboard isn't bare at all like it was once Zook got here. The fact is that Beckman is setting his players up to fail. He is not putting them in position to be successful. Trying to run someone else's defense (Vic's) is asking for problems. Beckman is a defensive minded coach and the fact that he can't run his own defense is a testament to how bad of a coach he really is. I will go back to his original statement when he first got hired. "The only difference between the MAC and the Big Ten is the stadiums are bigger." That right there shows his stupidity which then you can turn back around on Mike Thomas for demolishing Illinois Athletics.

houstonillini84 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

First of all, I agree Zook's recruiting fell off from the excellent early years. But come on, no way does the change in talent explain the huge drop between last season and this season.

Second, you say Beckman is trying to build a program. Well gee no kidding. The question isnt if he is trying to, but if he *can*. Even if recruiting improves (and he has been doing a decent job of recruiting so far, not great but pretty decent), I see nothing from this staff that makes me think they can develop those players or implement schemes successfully at a Big Ten level. I can understand the problems with the offense, because we had similar problems last season once teams learned not to let AJ Jenkins run free. But the defense? Come on. It has gone from very good to terrible, and we have pretty good talent on that D. A guy like Ron Turner could really implement a successful scheme (he couldnt recruit well, but when he had good players he really got them to perform). Ditto for coach Vic. I dont see anything like that on the current staff. It reminds me of Zook's staff before the coordinator changes, but worse, because the talent is less.

Its still early, and maybe this staff will get it together and be competitive in the Big Ten. But I dont see anything that makes me think they will, and you cant blame others for thinking that too, and you certainly cant blame a journalist for writing about what so many people sees and feels.

Illinix4 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Agreed.  Completely.

AlamoIllini wrote on October 01, 2012 at 11:10 am

Based on the comments from the current coaching staff, talking heads, publications, this was not a rebuilding year! Our defense was to be the cornerstone of the team and projected to be one of the best "D's"in the B10.  A qb with two years and two bowl wins was coming back. We had enough horses to be competitive this year, next year would be the challenge.

Getting to another bowl with at least a 6-6 was not only possible, but probable with the new coaching staff. Our mistakes on the field would be improved was the mantra.  We had two or three on the "D" side who were being discussed by BTN and other pro recruiting guru's has potential 1st or 2nd NFL rounders.

Last year, we had 24 turnovers, last in the BT, NOW based on a comment from a talking head, after 5 weeks, we have 14! Highly touted defense has been taken to the woodshed three weeks in a row. The previous DC is pitching shutouts at UNC.  Special teams are worse than last year. Offense is worse than last year.

Coach Beckman and staff do have time to turn it around.  A few wins and all of this is soon forgotten.  And yes, there have been injuries. But, after 5 weeks, the blame lies at the feet of the new coaching staff, not the players.  Watching the ESPN coverage of the PSU game, I can't remember the Zook staff ever receiving the verbal negativity as to coaching that Beckman's crew had hurled at them from the talking heads. Why? They saw on the field, what everyone sees, a team in disaray, not playing anywhere near its potential.


Jam wrote on October 01, 2012 at 5:10 am

Whether you like him or not, Coach Beckman is the guy.  UI fans should be supportive of this program.  The alternative is give it up.  Do not have a football program. Use the money for something else.  Begin building the best soccor programs in the country by turning Memorial Stadium into a huge collegiate soccor field.  Look around on Sat. mornings and see how many soccor leagues are playing in CU and realize that this is happenig across the country.

Green Shirt wrote on October 01, 2012 at 7:10 am

Jam, Dropping football is only an alternative if you are willing to get out of the Big Ten.  Yes, Beckman will be here for a while and we fans should be patient.  However, it would be far easier to be confident if his teams demonstrated that they have been well coached - unfortunately they have not.

WesternIllini81 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 8:10 am

Thanks for another good article Loren.  Despite what your detractors say on here, I can only hope to excell at my profession as long as you have at yours.

Throw in Stricker's weekend, and it was an even worse week to be an Illini fan.  The evidence in front of Illini Nation is that football does appear to be in a "gloom and doom" rut right now.  Beckman has underachieved with this group, fan support has not increased at all with the Beckman hire (may have even gotten worse), and there's nothing we can confidently point to that instills confidence in the immediate future of Illinois football. 

As we do too often in Illinois, I guess we'll just have to wait to see how basketball season goes...

OKOMIS wrote on October 01, 2012 at 8:10 am

What’s ironic as I read the new AP and USA polls this morning… those thinking Thomas and Beckman took this HUGE jump to Illinois and the BIG (bad) 10… Cincinnati ranked 23…. ( didn’t we lose to them a couple Thanksgiving Friday’s ago)..Toledo also receiving votes.. Illinois, not so much..  final Basketball polls last year.. Cincinnati 18.. Ohio 25.. Illinois…not so much… there is obviously something wrong. Whatever Beckman and his staff is doing, CLEARLY isn’t working to this point.. but, let’s get over ourselves.. this over their head Sh#t is ridiculous…  Beckman has a lot of work to do.. give him a shot.

houstonillini84 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

you miss the point: he is going to get a shot whether we like it or not. The UI cant not afford to terminate his contract. But the guy has some responsibility for what happens on the field. There has not been that much of a talent change from last season to this season. The big change is the coaching. And so far, that coaching looks terrible. Just terrible. And that is going to flow through to recruiting. We will be lucky to keep the recruits we have gotten verbals from, much less add to them. This couldnt have worked out much worse, so far.

OKOMIS wrote on October 01, 2012 at 10:10 am

i'm NOT missing any point... i fully agree the coaching appears to be beyond terrible.. if it wasn't so sad it would be comical.. but this notion of some giant leap in class for Thomas and Beckman is silly... it cleary hasn't worked to now, now we see what they are made of..

illiniart wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

We all want the Illini to succeed on the football field, and we need Beckman to succeed or we are going to have even more years of frustration.  However, the guy has made so many mistakes in the way he handled the hiring of his assistants, going to Penn State with a carload of coaches, etc., that it is hard to get behind this guy.  The fiasco on the sidelines at the ASU game was one of the most amateurish things I have ever seen.  Combine that with going for two points when we were up 6-0, and you have to think this guy belongs coaching a high school team. 

Granted, we've had some injuries.  However, the play of our defense, which has been great the last couple years, is horrible.  There is one major change...the defensive coordinator. 

It is frustrating reading the Chicago papers that constantly beat up on the University of Illinois.  To have the local paper do the same thing does get old.  It seems there is no one out there cheerleading for us.  These are not fun times to be a fan of the University of Illinois athletic teams.

oandb wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

There was an outstanding first year coach on display Sat. His team was well prepared, played with emotion and played through every whistle. Unfortunately he coached PSU.

We ended up with a coach who had zero answers for the TE, poor special teams, and a team that is bickering like little girls. If I watched the players actions I would not send my son to play for this coach. And it was a big recruiting weekend.

Going forward one can hope for improvement. Hope is the operative word. The coaches better get their act together.

RonZookIsMyCoach wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

Yeah it was a big recruiting weekend. He was recruiting the Penn State players because he figured since he already had them on campus why not treat them to a campus tour.

mankind wrote on October 01, 2012 at 10:10 am

"Bickering like little girls." Spoken like a guy who never had a daughter and never went to a women's sporting event. Every women's game I've ever witnessed has about 1/20th the moping, pouting, and bickering of a typical men's game.

houstonillini84 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

(removed - duplicate post from above)

OrlandoIllini wrote on October 01, 2012 at 9:10 am

Once again, Loren Tate is on target about the Illini.

Physcially/athletically, the football players are usually no match for their opponents (except for Charleston Southern or whatever was the name of that high school team we played). Not many Illini players exhibit football smarts, and often seem tentative about how to execute a play. Special teams may again trail the nation. Coaches of all Illini sports should not bring prospective recruits to Illini football games. I would trade our football program --players and coaches-- for ASU's or Louisiana Tech's, and throw in a few million dollars to sweeten the deal, yet there would be no takers. I've cheered Illini football since I was a UofI frosh in 1967, and now I wonder if there is any reason to pay attention to it any more.

Moonpie wrote on October 01, 2012 at 11:10 am

So, Obi Wan Tate has to admit he was wrong to predict a good season--he hides that little error at the end of his column.

Maybe Beckman, for the short-term, should recruit some speed from JUCO ranks in Texas, the Deep South, and California in the hopes he can have an actual team with speed in order to compete.

1 illinifan wrote on October 01, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Do not think this article is negative, just reality. I hire people for a living and was very critical of this hire from the beginning, caught so much grief for it that just quit posting. Hate to say I was right but... I was.


If you are an assistant for that long after "growing up in football", there is no way that you will be at the top. Odds are roughly 1 in 10,000. There were too many red flags, example:he was suppose to be a defensive minded coach, even the media jumped on this band wagon. But yet there were no real signs of this great defensive mind, and it shows now that he is in the "real world". He was handed some real talented players on that side of the ball and ruined it. Probably hurt some of the chances for the NFL.


This was a loyalty for the program hire, not a success on the feild hire. Look around the country at the success of first year hires: PSU, UCLA, Arizona State just to name a few that we have experience with.


If Thomas really means what he says in wanting a successful team on the feild  then he has to start his search now and just write this year off and clean house at the end of the year.

aaeismacgychel wrote on October 01, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Wow... So, a bunch of comments preaching patience with Beckman, huh? Can't say I saw that coming... Mainly because the amount of national ridicule for both the Illini's performance and their coaching is at an all time high. Frankly, it's almost impossible to see any positives Beckman and his staff brought to Illinois, because, quite frankly, there aren't any. In fact, the national media has had nothing positive to say about Beckman.

There's also a lot of posts about lack of talent on this team. We can rewrite history all we want, but on Mel Kiper's preseason big board, he had Michael Buchanan, Jonathan Brown, Akeem Spence, and Terry Hawthorne all going in the 1st and 2nd Rounds. All preseason outlets had our defense pegged as Top 3 in the B10 and Top 20 in the Nation and yet now we want to say Zook left the cupboard bare? Are you kidding me? How old are you folks? You want to talk about leaving the cupboard bare, Ron Turner left the cupboard bare. This current team has more pro-graded talent starting for it than half the B10. We are just about at a -30 pt. differential PER GAME compared to last year! -30PPG IN MARGIN OF VICTORY!!! Not a single team in the country has regressed more than us! ASU and PSU both have new coaching staffs, both suffered more significant talent losses than we did, AND BOTH WIPED THE FLOORS WITH US!

BE PATIENT WITH BECKMAN?!?!?! FOR WHAT REASON? You want me to be patient with Beckman? Then he better pink slip at least one of his coordinators right now. That'll buy him another week with me. That's about all that will at this point. Anyone who thinks we have 28pts at home worse of talent than Penn State is out of their bloody freakin mind. That's the truth, Illini fans. I would hope the forthcoming blowouts to Wisconsin and Michigan would do it, but I'm it won't. Hell, at this point would even a blowout loss to Indiana change your minds?

Be patient? What a joke... I sincerely hope the people saying this aren't the ones that wanted Weber or Zook gone. I sincerely do. Because both of those coaches deserved freakin' lifetime contracts compared to what Beckman has brought to the team so far. Unbelievable... Just unbelievable... ESPN commentators making fun of our joke of a team and coach along with oddball coaching decisions for the entire game, and still fans stressing patience. Just ridiculous.

And here I am planning a "Pink Out" for the next home game. Not in support of breast cancer (which is a great cause), but in support of giving Beckman the pink slip. *shaking head*

OKOMIS wrote on October 01, 2012 at 2:10 pm

yeah... i saw all those pre-season polls with us ranked ...right....

aaeismacgychel wrote on October 01, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Being ranked or not has nothing to do with being competitive. No, nobody had us as a Top 25 Team. But you know what, nobody also had us ranked #90 (what we're currently ranked now: http://realtimerpi.com/football/ncaaf_Men.html) under FCS superpowers North Dakota State, Old Dominion, Montana State, Youngstown State, either.

How can you act like what is happening was expected when it wasn't expected by anyone. Did you post in the preseason that we're going to win 2 games this year and lose by an average of 28points a game this year? Did anyone? Just because Illinois was not expected to be a Top 25 team competing for a BCS Championship does not mean that Illinois is not underachieving. I really can't believe we're seriously having these conversations. It's like saying we should be patient with a new CEO when he lost $30M in his first quarter, because gains were supposed to be marginal anyways and he's not in charge of a Fortune 500 company. I mean this is ridiculous.

If you're happy with what's going on on the field and pleased with the job Beckman is doing, then it's nice to meet you and glad to have you on the boards, Mrs. Beckman. I just cannot see how a single person can walk away from this Illinois season so far and not see one of the worst coaching staffs ever assembled. My coworkers down here in Phoenix said so, my friends from Penn State have said so, and almost all of my friends in Chicago have said so. But that's fine, we all have opinions, and if yours is you're happy and content with the status quo, then by all means, support away, because Illinois is going to damn need fans like you with the direction 99% of people can see it's headed in.

OKOMIS wrote on October 01, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I don’t know what you’re talking about… what we’ve seen so far is pitiful. It’s just pretty idiotic to say Zook was anything other than an disaster..a national joke… talking abot what people say were you live…living down here in Tampa, I was subjected to the stupid Zook jokes for years… they really respect his coaching ability down here… did Thomas make a mistake hiring Beckman..?? so far it sure looks that way… did he make a mistake firing Zook?? No way.. just because Beckman has sucked in no way makes Zook stay any better…like I said the other day.. just because Jeffrey Dahmer ate his victims doesn’t make Charles Manson a good guy..they both suck.. only one has sucked for 5 games.. the other sucked for 6 years..  our joke of a past AD should have fired him 2 years earlier instead of bringing in big $ coordinators and giving him an extension..

aaeismacgychel wrote on October 01, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Now that I agree with. My post wasn't saying Zook was a good coach, just that the idea being thrown around that he left the cupboard bare or we are extremely untalented being the reason we're about 30ppg worse in margin of victory this year as compared to last is fallible, asinine, and beyond ridiculous. I too thought Zook was allowed to stay two years too long, but we did get Koenning out of the deal. Thomas made a terrible choice in saying that Koenning wasn't being considered for the head coaching position, and Thomas and Beckman both were idiots for running Koenning out of town by first offering him a co-defensive coordinator title. What a slap in the face, but they did it to get rid of him while trying to make naive fans believe that he left on his own accord. Illini fans might be hopelessly optimistic in adoration of their team, but they aren't idiots. And they certainly don't like being played for fools.

Beckman is certainly not the answer at coach, but that's not to say Zook was either. Zook had his own deficiencies- his football IQ became non-existent when stepping on the field and his ability as a game manager was mind-boggling. We unfortunately just happened to find a guy worse at both those aspects along with a hell of a lot of other ones. My apologies if you thought I was saying we never should have fired Zook. We certainly should have, we just should have had a plan in place before doing so.

OKOMIS wrote on October 01, 2012 at 6:10 pm

We should have kept Koenning…someone brought up a point a few posts ago... Urban Meyer always keeps the defensive coordinator when taking over a program.. as we should know... Zook brought Charlie Strong here for a week, but Meyer convinced him to stay at Florida.. by the way, Charlie Strong got hired at Louisville the same time Gunther extended Zooks contract and brought the 2 new coordinator’s… .. my point is we were a more desirable job than..  look at what they are doing this year… 5-0.. ranked 16th… look at their roster.. it’s ½ Florida… we could have killed 3 birds with one hire… 1. A coach capable of making us winners… 2. A coach of color… 3. A coach with 12 years of deep Florida recruiting ties…

Illinix4 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I couldnt have stated it any better than that.  Thats the truth and its disappointing and saddening as an alum.

mroberts865 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I have been a fan 55+ years. We have all witnessed lows interspersed with a few highs. The only thing that has changed over the long haul is the money doled out to the schools. I could no more not cheer for the Illini than a Cub fan cannot hold out eternal hope. Maybe the league will step in to level the playing field. We could then be competitive with IN and MN for a top draft pick every year. As much as I feel the disappointment,  I'll still drive 1300 miles one way to watch a game or two. The fewer fans, the better seats. Butkus, Grabowski, et al, never played before a consistantly packed stadium. Ohl, the Judsons, Spoon, among others, had more fans packed in, but tickets were always available. I would love to see that change come soon.

mjcardo wrote on October 01, 2012 at 2:10 pm
Profile Picture

I have gone to almost every home football and basketball game since I attended the University of Illinois. I bleed orange and blue. However, the one thing that has NEVER changed (except for a few years here or there) is the apathy of the students for Illinois football. Maybe it is that the start time for most games (11:00 AM) is before most students (or fans) wake up on a Saturday. I know the the reason (TV) for the early start time, but it would almost certainly improve attendance if the games were at night, at least until later in the season. This year's games have been an awful. I sure hope the basketball team has better luck. It looks like we may have seen the last football victory for 2012.

Maybe we should've kept that last coach..... Not Zook, but Koenning.

allendan wrote on October 01, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I will admit that I am having great trouble practicing patience as the season goes along. I too believe the cupboard was nowhere near barren when Zook left, especially on defense. And, the schedule is undoubtedly the weakest it has been in my 21 seasons of having Fighting Illini season tix.

But, I expected some early season turmoil due to the change in coaching staffs and having to learn new systems. The biggest problem I have today is that we are 5 games into the new regime and rather than seeing progression in adapting to the new schemes and improvement from week to week it appears we are heading backwards and we are not competing.

Today we are clearly not a good football team in any respect--running game, passing game, the lines on either side of the ball, stopping the run, rushing the passer, defending the pass, defending the goal line, special teams without exception, coaching, attitude, and effort. Frankly, we aren't very interesting to watch either.

Over the years we have put some pretty bad football teams on the field. I've sat through 0-11 with Turner and 2-9 with Tepper and 3-9 with Zook. The differences between those years and this one to me are: 1. in the prior years we weren't very talented and we had no expectations coming into the season that we would be anything other than a bad team, and 2. as the season went along, even though we didn't win many games we could see progress being made on the field.

Here is hoping Beckman gets it together, but I have to admit that I have zero confidence that this is the guy to turn this program around. I'll keep rooting for the Illini because I know we have to commit to at least 2-3 years of Beckman for financial reasons and I want to enjoy sitting in the stands in the fall rooting for the Illini.  I just need some reason to have some optimism and I'll be right back on the bandwagon!!!

aaeismacgychel wrote on October 01, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I think this is a great post. And yes, to compare this team to the 1-11, 3-9, and 2-10 teams at the end of Turner's tenure is an insult to those teams and players. Those guys played their hearts out, but we just were trying to be competitive in the B10 with decent high school talent. Heck, the only bright spots on those teams were Pierre Thomas, Steve Weatherford, and Jason Reda. And when your punter and kicker are 2 of your best 3 players, you're not going to win many games. We like complaining about Scheelhaase and O'Toole, but who remembers little Timmy Brasic or Chris Pazan? Yeeks.

And yes, I too hoped Beckman would give even the slightest reason for optimism, but the more I see of him, the less optimism I have. And that's sad...

hopefulmike wrote on October 01, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Beckman has shown very poor judgement from the beginning.

(1) He should have offered Koenning the defense (instead of asst coordinator or whatever it was). In that way, we would have had a solid defense with continuity, and, maybe, Whitney Mercilus would have stayed. Beckman could have concentrated on the broken offense. Koenning would have moved on in a year or two, probably to a head coaching job (he was excellent in last year's bowl game), and Beckman could have installed his own man then.

(2) He ruined the Illinois image with his recruiting at Penn State, when all he did was waste a scholarship on a player who may never play meaningful minutes for the team.

sanjuan wrote on October 01, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Anyone else think it is odd we didn't use our timeouts at the end of the game to at least practice our goal line/short yardage offense.  yes, the game was out of hand and, yes, somebody could get hurt, but why not at least use the opportunity to practice against another defense.  Ought to be able to learn something from the video.  As they say, it's not like you can turn the unused timeouts in for points.

allendan wrote on October 01, 2012 at 4:10 pm

sanjuan, I was of the same opinion. Once we decided to keep our starters in at the tail end of a blowout and try to move down the field we might as well have burnt our timeouts and focused on getting a score. Frankly, in the box score 35-14 looks and sounds better than 35-7, even though those of us who were there know what a blowout it really was. As it ended, that final drive was just a stats padder anyway, so might as well get some points and feel good about ourselves at the end for scoring. Instead, we failed on the 1 yard line and let the clock run out with several of our offensive starters on the field.

walker wrote on October 01, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I knewe were in trouble this season when we did not go into some kind of a 2-min drill in the closing three minutes of the 2nd half against LA Tech.   It was 21-17 and we had a chance to at least move the ball down the field for a FG try or something. (do we even have a 2 min offense??)  Anyway, we chose to just run the clock down.  A long TD strike might have been the momentum changer that we desperately needed.  Anyway, I thought that was telling about this staff.

aaeismacgychel wrote on October 01, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I knew we were in trouble when against ASU we cut the score to 35-14, forced a 3 and out, and then had a 4th and inches from our own territory at the start of the 4th Quarter. If you go for it there, pick it up and score a touchdown on that drive, while improbable, you're only down 2 scores with about 8 minutes left and actually have a chance to make an incredulous comeback. But we punted. Terry Hawthorne's godmother who was sitting right next to me was furious we were punting because in our minds, Beckman gave up on the team right there and surrendered any chance at victory. The players who bult up some momentum quit on him right there.

But yes, that 2 minute drill against LA Tech was very telling indeed.

Jam wrote on October 01, 2012 at 8:10 pm


The reference about the basketball team losing out on the recruit really is not in the same ballpark that the football program is in.  Groce in about 3 months time was in a competitive position for that recruit.  Recruiting is tough and usually the one who gets their first gets to eat the worm so to speak.  Kudos to Coach Groce and his staff for being in the running in that situation!!!!


Illinix4 wrote on October 01, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Here's a thought...Beckman should visit Chicago when the Bears get back into town and ask if he can borrow the OC and DC or the offensive and defensive playbooks for the rest of the year.  I know, I know...wishful thinking.

dcimino wrote on October 02, 2012 at 1:10 am

You should not have expected a good football season this year and should realize it's WAY too early to consider giving up on Beckman. Get a grip!   Last year's team was 2-6 and graduated 2 first round and 2 second round draft choices.  The last 3 recruiting classes were all in the bottom 3 in the Big Ten.

Why would you have expected this team to be any good?  Wishful thinking is fine, but you need to realize it was just a wish.  

Beckman has done a great job recruiting players into a terrible situation (2 winning records in the Big Ten in the previous 18 years), but you have to give him time. His first recruiting class will be freshman next year, following three weak classes.  At best, we'll see some improvement in 2, probably 3 years. This isn't rocket science guys!

Does anybody remember Wisconsin's record in Barry Alvarez's first year as coach?   Oh yeah,... as in oh - and eight. Five Big Ten wins in his first three seasons.  How long would he have lasted in your way of thinking?

houstonillini84 wrote on October 02, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Barry Alvarez didnt take over a team that had won two consecutive bowl games. Wisconsin was terrible when he took over. UI wasnt great last season, or even good, but we were average - good enough to get to a bowl game and win it.

Again, Beckman will get time whether we want him to or not. UI can not afford to fire him, so we are stuck with him. Yes his recruiting has been OK so far, but most of that was before the season. Now recruits can see how much we are stinking it up. Yes, we lost some good players, and but come on, the change in talent does not begin to explain the enormous decline in the quality of play. Much of that is due to the change in coaching, especially on defense. I cant see a single facet of the game where we are better coached than last year - and lets face it, with Zook that isnt a very high standard. Right now I am very pessimistic about the new staff. Frankly I think they are in over their heads; very amateurish, especially at the coordinator positions. If it was just a matter of recruiting, I would agree with you, but especially on defense there is a lot more talent out there than the results would indicate.