AD: Beckman staying

AD: Beckman staying

UPDATED: 10:37 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN — Tim Beckman hit the road recruiting on Sunday.

A little less than 24 hours later, Mike Thomas confirmed the Illinois football coach will return for a third season.

In what has become an annual rite for the Illinois athletic director since he hired Beckman nearly two years ago, Thomas spent the first few days after the season ended on Saturday reiterating the fact that Beckman will coach Illinois for the 2014 season. Beckman is in the second year of a five-year, $9 million contract but has posted a 6-18 record. He is 1-15 in Big Ten games, including a 4-8 mark in 2013.

“I think you can say offensively we’ve improved,” Thomas said. “We’re in a better place than we were a year ago. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Our special teams ... is not where we want it to be, but it’s better than it was a year ago. Defensively is where we’re tracking behind. If we’re going to have success as a football team and be competitive as a football team every Saturday, we’ve got to certainly get better on that side of the ball.”

Thomas said he meets weekly with Beckman in person and talks frequently to him during the course of a week. Both Thomas and Beckman are traveling this week, but Thomas said he likes to stay involved with talks about possible personnel changes as it relates to the football program.

“He and I will be getting together real soon to talk,” Thomas said. “Usually when you talk about the future of your program, you don’t do that over the phone. It will be no different than when we sat down at the end of last year fairly quickly after the season, and those were part of the discussions we had, and they’ll also be part of the discussions we have moving forward.”

Despite the improved win total under Beckman and Illinois staying in games longer this year than it did during his first season, Thomas knows more progress needs to transpire. Translation: more wins.

“Does that mean we have arrived, or we’re happy with where we’re at? Absolutely not,” Thomas said. “We have high expectations, which we should. I would be disappointed if our fan base didn’t. I do think we’re better, but we certainly have a ways to go to build a foundation which allows us to be consistent year in and year out as far as winning football games.”

Beckman often cites the strides in classroom work and community involvement his program has made since he arrived from Toledo.

“We talk about off the field and on the field, and they’re not mutually exclusive,” Thomas said. “I think you can do those things off the field that are important, but also win football games.”

Illinois will now have to win in the recruiting arena. With 14 commitments in place already and a limited number of scholarships left to dole out for the Class of 2014, don’t expect a plethora of recruits to join Illinois in the next two months before Signing Day arrives the first Wednesday in February.

“A critical piece of this is recruiting,” Thomas said. “We will have to have success recruiting and build relationships that are long-lasting in this state and in this region, and certainly find the right pockets across the country that make sense. For us, we’re not at a point with this program where we have the depth and overall talent that we really need to consistently win at a high level in this conference.”

Seven Big Ten teams will play in bowl games in the next month. Illinois fans don’t have to concern themselves with postseason travel plans for the second straight season.

“This isn’t about going to a bowl game and then taking three or four years off and then going to a bowl game,” Thomas said. “Ideally you’d like to sit here and say a bad season for us is a six-win season.”
 

UPDATED 1:07 p.m

As expected, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas this morning said football coach Tim Beckman will return for the 2014 season.

Meeting with media in his office, Thomas said he'd talk to Beckman "real soon" to discuss possible staff changes.

Illinois finished a 4-8 season with Saturday's 37-34 loss to Northwestern. Beckman is 6-18 in two seasons at Illinois.

"I think you can say offensively we've improved," Thomas said. "We're in a better place than we were a year ago. I don't think there is any doubt about that. Our special teams ... is not where we want it to be, but it's better than it was a year ago. Defensively is where we're tracking behind. If we're going to have success as a football team and be competitive as a football team every Saturday, we've got to certainly get better on that side of the ball."

Illinois started 3-1 before losing seven of eight Big Ten games to miss the postseason for the second consecutive year.

Beckman is in the second year of a five-year, $9 million deal.

"We have high expectations, which we should," Thomas said. "I would be disappointed if our fan base didn't. We certainly have a ways to go to build a foundation which allows us to be consistent year in and year out as far as winning football games."

Thomas said he meets weekly with Beckman in person and talks frequently to him during the course of a week.

Both Thomas and Beckman are traveling this week, but Thomas said he likes to stay involved with talks about possible personnel changes as it relates to the football program.

“He and I will be getting together real soon to talk,” Thomas said. “Usually when you talk about the future of your program, you don’t do that over the phone. It will be no different than when we sat down at the end of last year fairly quickly after the season and those were part of the discussions we had, and they’ll also be part of the discussions we have moving forward.”

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897RGL wrote on December 02, 2013 at 1:12 pm

At a minimum that means....Mr. Banks, your moving van is here.  Please close the door when you leave.

PortlandIllini wrote on December 02, 2013 at 1:12 pm

We all thought that Zook's replacement would take Illini football to the "next level" after consecutive bowl games.  .  What we didn't know is that Beckman's level is the cellar of the Big Ten.     Thanks a lot,  MIke Thomas,  for your $9M mistake.  I hope that you reserved some money to secure an excellent defensive coordinator. 

Dan Bloeme wrote on December 02, 2013 at 2:12 pm
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Beckman DID take us to the next level. Unfortunately it's down a level or two. Maybe Thomas didn't expect Illinois to be going backward the last couple of years but then again, Thomas obviously didn't do his homework with his poor decision in hiring #BeckmanTheClown. While Beckman showed progress going from no wins to 1 win in Big Ten play, finishing next to last in conference is far from enough progress. If in his 3rd year Beckman doesn't finish in the top half in conference, qualify for a bowl game and stop his embrassing sideline antics, he'll be run out of Champaign.

Carl Rehm wrote on December 02, 2013 at 3:12 pm

The decision to keep Tim Beckman just made my decision whether or not to renew my season tickets a much easier decision.

Mr Dreamy wrote on December 02, 2013 at 4:12 pm

The problem isn't Beckman, he was a low level (ok, mid-level conference) hire by new athletic director Mike Thomas, another low level (ok, again mid-level, but not by Big Ten standards) AD with no ties to the U of I. None. Zilch. To them the U of I is just another job, just another stopping off place, or with such demonstrated incompetence probably an ending place, in their careers.

And who was the president of the U of I when Mike Thomas was hired? Michael Hogan.

Throw the bums out. Enough said. 

pberg wrote on December 02, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Even for the Beckman supporters, LOOK at the attendance Saturday.  Do you honestly believe that this guy is going to win enough games to turn that attendance around?? If you do, I want some of what you are smoking. What will he do eke out 2 Big Ten wins?  Need to have all Illini home games with Saturday's attendance and then something will be done.   I am sure Bob Assmussen will try to get us all excited in the summer of Beckman's last season

cretis16 wrote on December 02, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Oh, boy....we win 1 big ten game in 2 years against the worst team in the big ten...and Beck is staying? Why isThomas so quick to pull the plug on other Illini  coaches but sticks us with this embarrasing preformance? Whew....

Dan Bloeme wrote on December 02, 2013 at 6:12 pm
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It's easier for Thomas to fire another AD's choices than his own. Plus financially he couldn't afford to keep still another ex-coach on the payroll after still paying out a fortune to Zook, Weber and Law. Thomas' lack of doing his homework on Beckman should cost him his job too after promising Illini faithful when firing Zook that it was all about winning Big Ten championships. Hogwash - hiring Beckman was handicapping the program and going backwards. Just look at the few fans left in the stands to realize this program is broken and went downhill fast after Koenning &Co left.

IMAN wrote on December 02, 2013 at 8:12 pm

FireMikeThomasTheBuffoon.com

 

Just unfreakingbelievable what a moron this guy truly is.  Ed Orgeron is available, hire the guy NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Why in the world are the Big $$$ Alums not demanding Thomas and Beckman's head????

 

I will not go to another Illini game (typically go to at least 2 a year), nor as an Alum will I donate a penny to the Ifund until these clowns are gone....nor will 45,000 other people.......17,000 people at the game Saturday?????  Does this buffoon think that is going ot change?  FIRE HIM and NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

jimbo2009 wrote on December 02, 2013 at 10:12 pm

So this time next year, after attendance has set an all time record (low side), MT and TB can both be fired!  Enjoy playing in a half empty stadium.  If it wasn't for B10 network revenue, MT would be on the hot seat right now.

STM wrote on December 03, 2013 at 6:12 am

Exactly!  Thomas is the problem.  We need an AD with some (any) loyalty to the program.  Time to tell this parade of over-paid meat-heads to hit the road!

chucktownillini wrote on December 03, 2013 at 7:12 am

Such hatred! Fire Thomas? Didn't he hire Groce and Bollant? Great hires there. How many AD's in the country are alums of the school they work for? The cupboard was bare after Zooker left. Have some respect for fellow human beings. Such a sense of entitlement with some people. The decline happened in Zooks last season, starting 6 and 0 then losing last 6 games. Don't go to games, don't send them money. What a fan of U of I you folks are! Good grief! Go Illini!!

RPeterE wrote on December 03, 2013 at 10:12 am

Chuck, why don't you climb back in your hole and stop harrassing fans who are free to share their opinions without your chastising and demeaning them. Get a life!

IMAN wrote on December 04, 2013 at 8:12 pm

So what exactly has Groce done?    He is 100% responsible for last night's loss to a horrid, I mean putredly horrid Georgi Tech team.   Oh that is right, he ALMOST got a top recruit.

and do you know where the major revenue in college athletics comes from?  Yep, football.    15,000 butts in the seats at a football game = Thomas and Beckman are costing the school a little over $2.5MM a game.    

illinifaningeorgia wrote on December 03, 2013 at 9:12 am

The "$9 million mistake" is down to roughly $5.4 million (don't know his salary by year).

Has anyone in DIA taken pencil to paper to crunch the numbers?  Could avoiding the lost revenue from the low attendance at games and reduced giving by wealthy alumni more than offset the payoff to get Beckman out of here?

Just askin'.