OSU 60, UI 35: Beckman, Cubit go at it

OSU 60, UI 35: Beckman, Cubit go at it

CHAMPAIGN — So promising one play.

So agonizingly frustrating the next. 

The inconsistent nature of Illinois has befuddled many for decades.

This year’s version isn’t much different. 

It culminated with less than five minutes left in the third quarter of Saturday’s 60-35 loss to third-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State in front of 44,095 fans.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit exchanged harsh words after Ohio State forced a safety to increase its lead to 37-21. Assistant coaches had to step in between the two and separate them after backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole was sacked and fumbled, causing the safety.

Beckman and Cubit downplayed the situation after the game.

“It was just a heat-of-the moment thing,” said Beckman, who said he has never been involved in a situation like that before during a game. “We both want to be successful. I’m the head football coach, so it goes on my shoulders. Bill and I have gotten along forever, and I respect Bill. Immediately on the sidelines we talked about it and got it straightened (out).”

Cubit — who also said he has never found himself in a situation like that during a game — was tight-lipped about what transpired.

“We took the sack and a couple guys weren’t happy about it,” Cubit said.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase — whose helmet came off when a piece of his chin strap broke — said he didn’t see the disagreement unfold. O’Toole was in the game because of rules that force a player to sit out at least one play when his helmet comes off.

“I was honestly trying to find a large helmet and found one at the time,” Scheelhaase said. “It’s one of those things where emotions are running high in big games like that. Those things happen, I know. Shoot, it happens between us players all the time.”

Even so, television cameras don’t often capture the moment for a national audience, like what happened Saturday.

“All that stuff’s kind of heat of the moment, and we understand,” wide receiver Steve Hull said. “You just kind of shake hands and move on from there, but, honestly, we didn’t know what was going on. We just locked back into the game.”

Illinois now owns the nation’s longest conference losing streak after suffering its 20th straight Big Ten defeat. Kansas held the mark, but the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 slide with a win against West Virginia on Saturday. 

The Jayhawks keep making this weekend one Illinois supporters will never want to relive. 

The discord that built up during last year’s losing slide doesn’t seem to have manifested itself with the Illini players. “The players, we’re actually believing in it, and we’re giving it everything we possibly have,” Hull said. “We’ve got guys fighting through injuries, fighting through things in life, and it’s really special to be around them.”

A special comeback wasn’t in the making for Illinois. 

“I feel like it just proves to ourselves that we can play with anybody,” free safety Zane Petty said. “We just have to finish games.”

Illinois will only get two more games this year. Two more times to put together a complete game, a feat Illinois has not achieved since Big Ten play started eight weeks ago.

“We want these seniors to leave winners and to win this football game that’s necessary for them to get this losing streak done,” Beckman said. “We want to win. Nobody likes to lose. We still have two trophies left to play for ... and that’s exactly what we play for.”


What happened

Tempers flared on the Illinois sidelines. Carlos Hyde harkened memories of Eddie George and Archie Griffin. Nathan Scheelhaase took a pounding. It had the makings of a blowout loss early, but Illinois showed resilience like it has for much of the season. In the end, the more talented team won. But Illinois prevented Ohio State from earning any style points from the voters and computers, and actually gave the Illinois fans who made their way into Memorial Stadium a glimmer of hope well into the fourth quarter. People may compare this year to what unfolded last season for Illinois based on the Illini’s record, but it’s a far different plot developing in Champaign this time around.

What it means

The losses continue to accumulate for Illinois. The defensive maladies continue to flare up. Tim Banks should probably polish up his resume. The calls for the firing of the Illinois defensive coordinator once again lit up message boards and social media in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss. Illinois will miss a bowl game for the second straight year but could finish with two wins. Purdue and Northwestern are beatable — if the Illinois defense ever figures out how to stymie opponents.

What’s next

A trip to Joe Tiller’s old stomping grounds. The folks in West Lafayette are probably wishing he would come out of retirement. Next Saturday’s game is one to see whether the Boilermakers or Illini stay out of the depths of the Big Ten Leaders Division. The Illini and Boilermakers will enter Ross-Ade Stadium with 0-6 records in conference play. Perhaps this is where the Big Ten losing streak ends. Then again, perhaps not. Illinois hasn’t won in West Lafayette since 2001, and the Boilermakers have won seven of the last eight meetings in the series. But this Purdue team is bad. Really bad. Illinois is on a six-game losing streak, but don’t be surprised if Illinois enters this week as a favorite. Seriously. 



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Moonpie wrote on November 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

As Dandy Don Meredith would say, "Turn out the lights the party's over." Time to stop trying to convince folks that the team fights hard and the team is not down etc. Beckman seems in over his head. To be a little fair, he doesn't have the greatest players. He has a QB that isn't really a QB. Sure, he puts up numbers, but he doesn't have what it takes to take a team to something big. Beckman has a defense that isn't a defense. Might be best to just hand the reins to the more experienced Cubit.

AZ intererst wrote on November 17, 2013 at 10:11 am

Look , this is hard to write, but in the interest of the entire Illini supporters and the University itself, it is time to say goodbye to Tim Beckman.  This latest incident with Bill Cubit, captured on national television, is just another in a series of embarrassing missteps that Beckman has made throughout his short tenure in Champaign.  Let's not forget the sideline chaos which was evident early last season at Arizona State, and which continued throughout the season, last year and this year.  Let's not forget the horrible reputation/image conjured up by having the assistant coaches camp out in the Penn State parking lot to try and pick off a few of their players in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky debacle (for the record, that move only made us look amateurish, as we did not get any players.  USC, on the other hand, did NOT hang out in the Penn State parking lot, and they got starting tailback Silas Redd----hmmmm?).   Let's not forget the Tim Beckman tobacco chewing episode, also caught on national TV, and laughed at by the announcers in disbelief.  And now the childish, and unprofessional fighting with assistant coaches on the sidelines.  It is not fair to loyal Illini supporters, nor is it professional, for Mike Thomas to continue to let his ego stand in the way of getting this program back on track.  Mike Thomas should face the music....he made a mistake in choosing such an amateur as Beckman to be a Big Ten head coach.  He is not ready for that, perhaps he never will be, but we cannot let this guy run the program further into the ground.  He needs to be replaced immediately, and a search for a big name, WINNER IN BIG TIME FOOTBALL PROGRAM needs to be hired.  Beckman is probably a nice guy, but he comes off as high schoolish......in interviews, his radio show, his sideline antics.  20 losses in a row is embarrassing enough, Mr. Thomas, but do we have to endure this type of unprofessional behavior?  Get your ego under control, admit your mistake and move on.  If you are not willing to do this, perhaps the entire loyal Illini supporters should band together and have you removed as well.  Make the right decision and get rid of this coaching embarrassment.  Thank you. 

mvillini wrote on November 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

Well said AZ  this is the exact feeling of MANY loyal Illini.

DaisyJ wrote on November 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

When Beckman snuck around the official to slap some snuff on National TV last year he should have been suspended by Thomas for at least a couple of games. When he was not this was a sign of who Thomas is. Look, the NCAA is death on tobacco peroid. Do  you realize, if a kid is found with it on a player at the game,  the player is gone for that game along with the head coach. What this also says if you are a player, recruit, it says Beckman has some issues with authority. He does not respect it.

I also want to say that Scheel will go down as a passer with great yards, but little success. His early interceptions were not what you would expect from a Senior. HIs arm strength is lacking. We have him getting the 4 and 6 yard gains from short passes that running backs should be getting in a balanced attack. And, with the defense giving up so many scores, Sheel gets plenty of chances,,too many.

Profilo wrote on November 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Come on folks, when are we finnally going to come to our senses? As embarassing as an 0-6 B1G ten record is, plus the now 20 consecutive losses, getting rid of a coach after just two years is not much better either. Which big name will you bring with that kind of perception of a team that fires a coach like that? plus which big name can we afford when we dont even get 50k fans in the stands?

Is understandable if this season is making you guys unhappy or worse. Then again, was this season supposed to make us happy? You guys remember any sportswriter prediction before the season? most of them said anything above 4 Ws would be considered (mark my words) a SUCCESS. And some even doubt that the team could improve of their 2-10 mark. Of course, once the outliers showed up (i.e. wins against subpar teams-SIU, MIAMI,OH, and an average CIncy team) everyone thought we’d had turn the corner.

 So just to refresh our biased memory, this season WAS NOt SUPPOSED TO MAKE US HAPPY, it was about seeing the signs of a team moving in an upward direction in most if not all phases of the game. And now during at least 2 B1G games (PSU and IU) we’ve seen some strides again on offense and special teams, and a mostly talentless D finally getting some stops, just like they did again yesterday against OSU. If you dont think our D was any good yesterday, just read what Urban Meyer had to say: “I did get tight,” Buckeyes’ coach Urban Meyer said. “We were playing a quarterback (Nathan Scheelhaase) that is creating plays on you. Offensively, we had too many three-and-outs.” So as foolish as Beckman looked (yet again) IS JUST NOT TRUE THAT THE IMPROVEMENT ISNT THERE 

OrlandoIllini wrote on November 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Well said, AZ.

The Illini now have ten 3-star and four 2-star recruits with verbal commitments. In too many cases, Illinois was the only member of a major conference to extend an ofier. We are well stocked for substandard performance for years to come.

Does there remain a worthwhile high school senior football player who would commit to a Beckman-coached Illinois team?

Beckman is the face of Illini football, and it is the face of an unprepared newcomer who acts foolishly. We have had two years of Beckman's antics and incompetent performance. How many more can the program survive?

Cubit appears to be The Real Deal. Where would the Illini be today had he not come to the rescue of the offense?

Beckman and Banks are not qualified for their current responsibilities. I wish them success in their next jobs.

The AD has no doubt learned lessons from his experience hiring Beckman. He has probably already put behind-the-scenes feelers out to several prospects. Let's just hope the university makes football a top priority for change.


jjohnson wrote on November 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Thanks, Profilo, but talking sense to some of these commentors (and commentators) seems like a waste. Your points are all good and I hope Mike Thomas has both the sense and the sensibility to ignore the nay-sayers. I am a loyal and always optimistic Illini, and I thought going into yesterday we might be beaten 63-0 or worse. Clearly, the team performed above any reasonable expectations, and to deny that coaching contributed to that is just plain stupid. Even the defense had some very good moments, though the last two touchdowns by Hyde late in the fourth were absurd (as was the fact that he an Miller were in the game to get that final touchdown; Urban Meyer and "class" do not  belong in the same sentence, nor does "brains," since if either had been hurt . . .). We do not yet have the horses, and one sure way to screw up recruiting is to keep changing coaches.

AZ intererst wrote on September 18, 2016 at 10:09 am

Profolio and Jjohnson, I respect and thank you for being loyal Illini, but at least for me, it was obvious from season 1 that Tim Beckman was in way over his head and without immediate improvement, he was never going to get this program back to winning.  Mike Thomas should have made the move to fire him WAY before he was forced to in 2015, and that type of ego cannot promote a winning strategy long term, so his firing was also the right thing to do.  Lovie Smith is a proven winner and professional and we need to recognize that he came into the program after the recruiting season was over, so he is stuck with  playing with the 2 and 3 star recruits of the Beckman era.  He will set a foundation this year--maybe without a lot of victories, but with a discipline of hard work and guarded optimism for the future, and I truely believe he will be a winner for us.  I hope you agree.