Tate: Banks will be back

Tate: Banks will be back

This won’t be 2013’s most popular decision, but it’s final ... for 2014.

Tim Banks, much-chastised UI defensive coordinator, will return in that capacity after his unit set school records for inefficiency.

Coach Tim Beckman, who is also personally engaged with the defense — he handles cornerbacks in practice — has made it clear to the staff that no changes are planned. This resolves the most pressing issue of the postseason for Illini fans.

All staffers have been fully involved with on-the-road recruiting and continue to do so. If anyone leaves — and some offensive members may receive offers — it will be their decision.

That leaves Greg Colby in charge of the defensive line, Mike Ward and Al Seamonson with the linebackers, and Banks and Beckman coaching the secondary.

From Beckman’s viewpoint, Banks didn’t have a fair chance to succeed with such a dramatic dropoff in talent this season. The Illini gave up 5,778 yards, most in school history. Five opposing teams sent individual rushers over 200 yards (another first), not counting Wisconsin, which alternated Melvin Gordon and James White for 240. Rival passers completed 65 percent of 354 passes, with just three intercepted.

Breaking it down

There are multiple considerations in this decision.

(1) By sticking with the status quo, Beckman appears to be putting himself on the firing line. If it doesn’t work, his own status in 2014 will be weakened.

(2) Who could Illinois attract as defensive coordinator under the circumstances?

(3) If a new coordinator was hired, he would surely want to name his assistants, which would bring about the second major staff shakeup in Beckman’s two seasons.

Working against the no-changes decision is the attitude of the ever-decreasing clan of season ticket-holders who, for the most part, have come to blame Banks for the stunning falloff from a national ranking of No. 7 in total defense in 2011.

The tailspin began last season when Illinois returned 11 players who had started at least one game in 2011 — Terry Hawthorne, Justin Green, Supo Sanni, Steve Hull, Jonathan Brown, Michael Buchanan, Houston Bates, Ashante Williams, Glenn Foster, Akeem Spence and Justin Staples.

Injuries hit the secondary, with Hull limited to five games, Sanni to seven and Hawthorne below par at times. Then, too, Brown wasn’t at full strength as he was limited to eight games at linebacker. After being routed by Arizona State 45-14 and Louisiana Tech 52-24, the Illini were repeatedly hammered and failed to win a Big Ten game.

Clearly, Banks and the veterans on that team never meshed. And when nine of those 11 were gone (including Hull, who moved to receiver), the line found itself overwhelmed and the secondary much too young.

Banking on Banks

As a strategist, Banks built strong credentials prior to replacing Vic Koenning at Illinois. A Central Michigan graduate who co-captained the Chippewas’ 1994 Mid-American Conference champs, he returned to his alma mater as defensive coordinator in 2007. His teams led the MAC in rush defense twice and led the MAC in scoring defense (18.9) in 2009.

Moving to Cincinnati, Banks directed the defense for a 10-3 team in 2011 that finished No. 6 in rush defense and led the nation in tackles for loss.

With that as background, Beckman chose Banks from the same university that provided UI athletic director Mike Thomas. Because the head coach and AD work closely together, this was deemed a joint decision.

To his credit, Banks handled his on-field difficulties with calm emotions in the face of heavy criticism. After losing his veteran 2011 secondary, he was obliged to field one of the nation’s youngest units. Of his top eight corners and safeties, there were no seniors and two juniors, Earnest Thomas and juco transfer Zane Petty.

With so much undeveloped youth, the team showed only a few late-season upswings in the overtime loss at Penn State and the 20-16 win against Purdue. With only one Big Ten win over two seasons, Illini Nation will watch intently to see if Banks can salvage a listing ship. His situation won’t be helped by the fact that two redshirting freshmen, defensive tackles Bryce Douglas and Vontrell Williams, have serious neck and ankle problems, respectively. It appears unlikely that either will be able to help the team in 2014.

That’s not a good way to start, particularly with the UI so thin on the line and so few defensive players expected to sign in February.

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

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PortlandIllini wrote on December 11, 2013 at 12:12 am

Oh,  F*** me.   Let's get this straight.   Banks' defense was the worst in the Big Ten in 2012 because he didn't mesh with all the experienced seniors.      And in 2013,  Banks' defense was the worst in the Big Ten because he lost all those experienced seniors ( you know,  the one he didn't mesh with)  and had inexperienced players..    Now he gets another chance to coach those "undeveloped youths"   in 2014  (you know,  the ones he didn't develop in 2012 and 2013)    Plus recruits are thin so there will be even less depth in the future.     Every offensive coordinator in the Big Ten just raised a toast to Tim Beckman for another opportunity to pad their statistics in 2014!      Mike Thomas:   you created this problem,  you need to fix it.

cretis16 wrote on December 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Next years excuse will be....BANKS ONLY GAVE UP 5,100 yards so we did improve. This team cannot tacklly, plays out of position, and looks to the sidelines on every single play with that....HEY WhAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO,WHATS THE COVERAGE. Scratch next season fans....Dump Thomas for being a six figure bonehead.

Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 6:12 am

get your facts right, people (and Loren Tate, do a bit more reading about college football; you really need to educate yourself better)

Banks' defense was not last in 2012 among B1G units. It ranked 54, much better than Indiana, Purdue and almost tied with NU and Iowa. And what made his unit look so awful last year was the failed experiment on offense (but nobody mentions this)

It also wasn't the last in 2013; that dishonor belongs to Indiana. 

And in 2013 too what made Banks' unit look particularly bad ("awful", "putrid" whatever) was the inconsistent offense we had during the ENTIRE B1G schedule (of course nobody dares mention this either).

Does anyone know that in each of the four games we had realistic chances of wining, the defense was MORE EFFECTIVE than our offense? Just take a look at how many drives our oponents turned into scores versus those of our offense and you'll find that Bank's defense faired better playing against teams ranked higher than us, whereas our offense was numerous times manhandled by lower ranked defenses (IU, NU, PU)

Drives per games tell us that 2013 season we could've gone 7-5 but foor our inconsistent offense. Check for yourselves, people, instead of beleiving half-truths and numbers than don't tell the whole story

OrlandoIllini wrote on December 11, 2013 at 7:12 am

Doom looms. Beckman is on a quest for Illini football suicide.


Only the parts of the program he does not directly touch --offense and special teams-- have improved. Defense and recruiting have sunk to the worst I’ve seen, and my years as a UofI student were co-terminus with Jim Valek’s Illini coaching.


Mike Thomas should prepare for Illini attendance to average less than 15,000 per game next year, possibly less than 10,000. Total attendance will be higher, as fans of visiting teams know they can inexpensively watch their guys get an easy road victory. You know, that might work as a marketing ploy: Come watch us fail epically.


Beckman’s recruiting has assured that for at least several years to come, the Illini will field a team composed mostly of Division II-level talent. People who worry some 2014 verbal commits might go elsewhere should ask themselves, “where would they go?”


When the new head coach is announced during or immediately after the 2014 season, at least he will be able to tell prospective recruits, “you will start as a freshman, and we will not claim you have a low football IQ.”

Dan Bloeme wrote on December 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Beckman must want to take his millions and retire early or take his millions earned from getting to the big stage and eventually drop down to the level of a D-II school that is more suitable for someone mediocre like him.

illini82 wrote on December 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

This makes no sense at all. We set records for INEFFICIENCY on defense and TB decides he wants more of the same.

The good news is that if he fails again TB should be gone.

In the mean time interest will continue to decline as the stadium gets emptier and emptier and we continue to look like laughingstocks. Nice move to get and keep this clown around Thomas.

It needs to be bowl or bust next year for both Timmys. If not then Thomas needs to be fired.


Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

an opinionated, yet poorly educated fan base/media makes for a crappy football team. that much is true

Dan Bloeme wrote on December 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

You make no sense. Fan base and media do not make a crappy football team. Poor coaching and non-competitive level of players do that. Period.

Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm

since you ask, let me explain to you why I do make sense. Fans like you and writers like Loren Tate who talk with conviction about illini football will sway other people into beleiving half-truths like "our defense was completely inefficient, inept, putrid, etc" and hence that retaining Banks was a mistake that should be punished by not attending games any more (not to mention the negative vibe around the program)

Poor attendance translates into less money, less money into lower quality facilities. Negativity drives people away from the stands too. Would you say that that is nota recipe  for a crappy team?

And the funny part is that fans like you and writers like Loren Tate have a very poor understanding of how things actually went ( see my comment above if you wish to put your convictions to the test, although I doubt you will).

RPeterE wrote on December 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Your logic is devoid of any logic. Disappointed fans don't make a football team crappy in any way, shape or form. You must be Tim Banks masquerading as a fan with your kind of logic. Yes, let's not hold our coaches accountable. Yes, let's blame the only good part of the team, Cubit and his offense. The buck stops with the head coach. He is the one most responsible. I'm sure he understands the synergy between the offense and defense a lot better than you and also understands that fans jhave to be won over not taken for granted. Seems that you mostly like to bully and demean other commenters - shame on you, just stop that nonsense. 

Profilo wrote on December 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm

being honest is not a reason for shame. Saying things other people don't/can't/wont is not a reason for shame. if you can't tolerate opinions different from yours (despite that they are based on evidence not mere talk) then that's yours to deal with. 

I'll continue to divulgue my logic because I and other comentors here find it logical; others will find its nonsense (albeit they hardly ever take the time to explain themselves) and im ok with that.

And I'll continue to say things as they are because some fans are just too emotional to think things through and because local media often accomodates "facts" to their own convenience. Iif that happens to strike as too frank for others the so be it

Dan Bloeme wrote on December 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

Big question begs, does the draw of Wes Lunt playing in Cubit's offense outdraw the falloff from keeping the same ol' Beckman & Banks defense intact. The blame for the abominable defense falls squarely on Beckman first then on Banks. Beckman has been unable to recruit the level of defensive player to compete in the Big Ten, much less on the national stage. Even if Illini offense surges next season, if a poor defense results in many losses again, the crowds will stay away in far greater numbers yet. The solution will become obvious even to a sizeable % that are still loyal to Beckman. Beckman may not even last the season before Thomas axes him.

illinifaningeorgia wrote on December 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm


Blaming the OFFENSE because they couldn't offset the horrendous (bottom ten in the country)  DEFENSE?

That's the most ridiculous argument I ever heard.  The offense averaged 30 points per game, enough to win more than 4 games.

Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

the argument may indeed sound ridiculous. but if it does is because most fans base their opinions on misguided information like averages and total numbers. 

Our offense was great for you. Why? because it scored 32 on Bucky when 15 of those points came when the game was already decided. Or 35 on OSU when the last 14 came when the game was already decided. I can go on if you want...

Saying that our offense is not as good as we think it was is NOT ridiculous. But you know what is? ignoring that our OFFENSE failed to score in 5 first quarters and 3 third quarters of the B1G portion of the schedule.

Now you want to tell me that such level of inconsistency does not affect the defense? I'm waiting to hear it

illinifaningeorgia wrote on December 12, 2013 at 10:12 am

We can continue this discussion/debate for no good reason, other than maybe hone our debating skills.

A few more points:

  • You minimize the offense scoring points late in games because the game is long lost. Why is the game lost?  The DEFENSE put us in an insourmountable hole.
  • Someone else mentioned that the offense could have helped the D out with longer, ball-control type drives.  Average time of possession for the offense was 29:11---pretty much even.
  • Just like losing to PSU and NU could have been wins, so too could have wins versus D1AA Eastern Illinois and a horrible Purdue team been losses.  Close games work both ways.
  • The offense threw 14 interceptions and lost 7 fumbles for the season---less than 2 turnovers per game.  I think that's pretty good.  The defense made only 3 interceptions and recovered 8 fumbles---less than 1 takeaway per game. More takeaways would have improved both sides of the ball.

Finally, I know you don't like to look at totals and averages.  However, if we are going to analyze the 2013 season, we have to look at "the whole body of work", as the talking heads like to say.  You can't pick and choose bits and pieces of specific games.





Profilo wrote on December 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm


you r wrong. I think the discussion should go on, and not precisely for the reason you mention. it should go on because what your opinion and those of other fans reveal is the PERCEPTION problem that Illini football faces. They not only have to compete against other teams with more talent and resources but they also have to deal with a biased fan base.

and your points are wrong as well. here's what you don't get: this whole discussion comes down to idealistic expectations/judgments like yours, and REALISTIC expectactions/judgements like mines.

The question you want to ask is could the defense have played better than how they did? if most of your guys are unproven, with less beef and talent than opposing teams can we expect them to fare better than our rivals? I don't, which is why the losses against MSU, WIS and OSU dont' tell me much about defense or offense.

But when our offense gets manhandled by defenses ranked as bad as ours like Purdue and Indiana (see 3rd and 4th quarters), and gets dominated by an equally badly ranked NU defense in the 1st and 4th quarters, I go and think "hey, maybe our offense is not as good as most people think" (which is not to say that The offense was bad or to deny all the improvement from last year)

and when I see the opposite going on in our defense, then I conclude that there are reasons to be soemwhat satisfied with the performance this year, and for being optimistic for 2014.

Besides, shouldn't we give the guys in the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt? those guys make a living out of that; their lives, families, jobs depend on how well their players do on the field. Maybe, just maybe they know a thing or two more than we do

Let the 2014 season be the verdict!

OKOMIS wrote on December 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

This is the only move that makes sense…. EVERY COACH in the world knows this is Beckman’s make or break year… why would you come here, knowing maybe 50/50 the head coach gets fired next year? And why would you bring in a new coordinator (assuming you’d have to pay decent $ and a few years of contract to get anyone worthwhile) knowing, a new head coach next year will want his own people… if Beckman get fired next year…. No new head coach comes in and keeps the new DC you just hired last year… no one keeps Cubit.. I think it’s pretty much sink or swim for the entire staff next year…  and our style of offense doesn’t help out a week defense… not that it’s their fault it’s week, but there were several times picking up a few 1st downs (Penn State) would have turned a L to a W. we either march down the field 18 yards at a clip or we’re 3 and out…

ChiefIlliniFan wrote on December 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I agree, this is actually a smart decision based on keeping Beckman for another year. While the offense was substantially better, it could be a lot better, too many gimmick plays. As far as the talent argument goes, he will not be able to get the level of talent needed, that is obvious already. Next season is just a wasted, write off, sit out or what ever you want to call it season.

cretis16 wrote on December 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Next year, we'll give up 6,000 yards. Hey Thomas, we realize Banks is Cincy too..but this  goes way way too far. Terrible decision....if the offense improved in a coaching change, why cant the defense? Hey alums, season ticket holders...get the paper bags ready for your  head...that is if you even decide to go. Absolutely crazy!!!!

Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

good points, OKOMIS. is nice to see common sense amidst so much negativity and misinformation.

JimOATSfan wrote on December 11, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Profilo makes good points. Excellent stat analysis - unique even.  I agree that the offense was not known for ball control - time consumption which would have kept the young defense off the field and as fresh as possible at the end of the game (for best efforts).

If, IF we still had Jay Prosch at fullback, the run game would have been at least 25% better. Perhaps zero drop off (see Auburn Tigers run wild, then remember the NW game at Wrigley Field. Both had Jay Prosch starting at fullback).  That kind of performance makes the entire offense look better, even the o-line.

All kudos and thanks said, I still would have prefered that Nathan played in the defensive backfield this year. 10,000 yards and only a handful of B1G games won - yawn. Shades of Juice.

Here's hoping that the next group of QB's are pass first and game management standouts.

Banks is a good man. Perhaps he CAN pull off a good defense next season. I, for one, am pulling for him. Although it looks today like the odds are very low it will happen.

Go Illini!



Profilo wrote on December 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Thanks, JimOATSfan. You also hit the nail on the head on some other things. Keep the realistic comments comming. Sooner or later the media will have to stop misinforming its audience.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm
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I like Tim Banks.

Bwp 5P wrote on December 12, 2013 at 9:12 am

Obviously NOBODY could have been pleased with the Defense.....not the fans, not the coaches, and not the players. I think we all accept that. We all want to see a unit that plays with domination.

To think that 1.) Beckman was going to get fired after two years was ridiculous! How could you attract a good coach if you only gave them 2 years to turn around a struggling program?

2.) The same applys to Banks........and as mentioned above..who would want the job with the head Coach on the hot seat? Nobody in their right mind....that's for sure. And if I was a parent or a player of a big time recruit........I sure wouldn't want to be involved with a program that changes coaches every year or two! I want a competitive program as much as the next guy.........but in this "instant gratification" society........some patience is required. I don't think there's an "APP" for success. If there was.....maybe Florida and Texas would be juggernauts every year!

Profilo wrote on December 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Bwp 52,

"instant gratification" society........some patience is required"' that's wisdom talking! cannot agree more

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

No disrespect to anyone but I have been a fan of the Illini since 1962, my patience is a tad thin. 

Bwp 5P wrote on December 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm

And no disrespect to you either pberg....but I've been one longer than that....and I don't have many more seasons left....but, like I said....there isn't a quick fix available (in my opinion)...and changing coaches every couple years won't help!

illinifaningeorgia wrote on December 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I, also, am a 50+ year Illinois fan.

Just want to refresh some information that has been posted here in the past.  Over the last 50 years (1964 through 2013), the cummulative record for University of Illinois Football is 237-319-9, a "winning" percentage of .426.

That translates into a typical 12-game season record of 5-7.  So this year's 4-8 record is just slightly below our "normal" year.  We've already talked about low expectations, this being a basketball school, etc. until we're blue in the face.  Fifty years is not a small sample size---we are what we are:  a below average team for the most part that every 20 years or so gets a bug up their butt and makes it to the Rose Bowl.

Don't talk to us "old farts" about patience.  We have none left.


tonyjb37 wrote on December 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm
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Illini football is as soft as Dairy Queen soft serve! The only men on the team including coaches is Steve Hull and JB plain and simple.So two men out of how many girls? I know that the truth hurts profilo but it is what it is. It is time for you to move on with the rest of your cheerleading squad. You can always pursue a career in cosmotology.

Profilo wrote on December 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm


Bwp 5P wrote on December 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Funny tonyjb37.......and I agree about Hull........he is The Real Deal..........but HOW do you recruit more studs like him? Not by changing coaching staffs every two years. There has to be some consistancy..........and we have already learned......the Chicago Administration is not going to spend the $$$$ to attract a Big Time coach, that draws talent on name alone........so what else is there....but to give a dude time to prove he's got what it takes? These are the same Sissies that banished THE Chief without an attempt at saving him..........they don't give a darn about sports......no matter what kind of $$$$$ it brings in to the University!

JimOATSfan wrote on December 13, 2013 at 5:12 am

Hey pberg!

Are you a singing engineer? I know you.

Cheers, Boston Real Estate

tonyjb37 wrote on December 13, 2013 at 10:12 am
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Thank you Bwp 5P it is simple really... how you recruit more studs like Mr. Hull! You win games. That is precisely why we need coaches in here that can coach the game of football and change the culture from one of weakness to one of strength and one of wimpiness to one of toughness. We need a COACH like a Bear Bryant,Woody Hayes, or Bo Schembechler from the past or from the present Urban Meyer,Nick Saban, or Jimbo Fisher. These are all MAN coaches you compare these MEN to what we have and there is NO comparison. If you get someone like one of these Men to coach this team  you will recruit a whole bunch of studs like Steve Hull not to mention all the buts you'll put in the seats. I can't think of anybody on Gods green earth that would wan't to come and play for us with this coaching staff at the helm.The best players in the country want to go somewhere where they can win right now not to a place where they will miss out on going to even one bowl game theire whole career. This is not a place recruits come to succeed this is a place where they come to ruin their chances of ever playing in a bowl game or ever having a chance at being a winner.This is a place recruits come to fail. If you want to recruit  big time players you have to have a big time coach coaching. Plain and simple. If you want to put butts in the seats then put a winning product on the field. Do whatever it takes to become a winner and to become competitive.

DaisyJ wrote on December 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm

The question is not if Banks will be back, that is insignificant. The real Question is will the fans be back and that my friends is likely already answered by many.

Sure, he handled the rough waters week in and week out, after all, he makes more than about 95% of all of us out there and with perks, well, he has nothing I am sure to worry about.

So, going forward, this is Mike Thomas's team as A.D. and he has put his faith in Beck, and Beck in Banks and well, you get the picture. Wish I could say I am ok with all of this but I am not.