Brattan officially on board at Illinois
CHAMPAIGN — Tim Beckman planned on spending the first few weeks of July enjoying a family vacation in Ohio.
Not exactly looking for a new offensive line coach at Illinois.
But when A.J. Ricker left on July 9 to become the offensive line coach at Missouri after former Missouri offensive line coach Bruce Walker retired on July 1, the third-year Illinois coach had to scramble and find a replacement.
By the time Illinois lines up for its first practice on Aug. 4 and by the time Beckman arrives in Chicago on July 28 for the start of Big Ten Media Days, he can talk about the newest addition to his staff.
Tom Brattan was officially introduced on Thursday as the Illini’s offensive line coach, a day after The News-Gazette reported he would land the job.
The coaching veteran arrives at Illinois after 13 seasons at Maryland — all as the Terrapins’ offensive line coach — where he was fired three days after Maryland lost 31-20 to Marshall in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.
Current Maryland coach Randy Edsall and former Maryland boss Ralph Friedgen both employed Brattan during his tenure in College Park.
Brattan has never worked with Beckman or offensive coordinator Bill Cubit before, but is familiar with two Illinois assistants.
Outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson was on staff with Brattan at Maryland from 2001 until 2010 and defensive coordinator Tim Banks was at Maryland from 2003 until 2006.
“With this being as late as it was, the candidate pool was tremendous,” Beckman said. “I was shocked at the quality of coaches out there, especially since it was this late.”
Beckman declined to name other candidates he considered for the job, but indicated four coaches interviewed for the vacant job.
“We got who we wanted,” Beckman said. “Resume-wise, he’s outstanding.”
Brattan is familiar with the Big Ten.
He was Northwestern’s offensive line coach from 1992 until 1998 under Gary Barnett, coaching with the Wildcats at the 1995 Rose Bowl.
“We all know what type of offensive line Ralph Friedgen wants out of his teams, and Tom had tremendous background in the city of Chicago at Northwestern,” Beckman said. “He had a big part in that success (at Northwestern).”
Beckman said he allowed some current Illinois offensive linemen — the Illini have Michael Heitz, Simon Cvijanovic, Alex Hill and Ted Karras back as returning starters — to meet with Brattan during the interview process.
“With this happening so late, I had some players that were involved,” Beckman said. “They didn’t sit down and tell me who to hire, but I just felt it was necessary to have them involved with this because it was happening so late.”
Beckman said having the new NCAA rule which allows coaches to spend up to eight hours a week with players this summer has worked out well.
Especially with this latest coaching search.
“I was in somewhat of a similar situation like this at Ohio State where I was hired after spring football, and the first opportunity I had to coach those young men was the first day of two-a-days,” Beckman said. “With this new rule, it’s really been beneficial.”
Beckman said Brattan is eager to get started.
Beckman, who didn’t necessarily envision having any other offensive line coach this season besides Ricker once July started, shares the same sentiment about having Brattan on board.
“His knowledge and his background, both on and off the football field, really stood out,” Beckman said. “We understand that this is Coach Cubit’s offense, and the importance of the fit. Tom fit. You could see that Tom has got some longevity behind him, too. He’s been at places a long time. That was another big area, but he’s very qualified for this.”