B1G 2013 // Illinois' Smartest Guys in the Room

USA TODAY Sports

Last year OTE introduced a new section to the B1G Intro Series: The Smartest Guys in the Room. It went over mostly well, so we're bringing it back and looking at the coaching staffs you will see on BTN week to week next Fall. What we try to do here is cover the Head Coach and the Coordinators. If there are Co-coordinators on either the defensive or offensive side of the ball, we will definitely include them on this list.

As a sidenote, I often do not have twitter handles of every coach - especially assistants - so if for some reason I do not have them ID'd properly, drop me a note in the comments and I'll edit accordingly. Same goes for players you think are worth following. I'd really like to start including those things because it does give more of a personal flavor to each profile piece we do. Anyhow, with that in mind, and with the obvious jokes ready at the helm when you start the, "smartest," column with Tim Beckman, I give you Illinois's (Is that how we make this a possessive proper noun? It's singular possessive, right? I'm not so good at the whole grammar thing.) Smartest Guys in the Room.

The Head Coach - Tim Beckman

Who is this guy anyway?

Tim Beckman is in Year Two at Illinois, and if Year 1 is any indication, this year might suck. I do not mean to be so hard on him because installing systems and such is difficult, but considering how many guys just got drafted, it does feel like his team might have underachieved a bit. If you look at the record, his team finished 2-10 overall with no wins in Big Ten play. That doesn't even begin to tell the whole story. In almost every imaginable offensive stat, his offense was... dare I say... offensive? [/ducks] Seriously, though, consider this:

  • Lowest Scoring Offense at 16.7 PPG
  • Second lowest average RYPG at 127.83 with an abysmal 12 TDs scored, which was the lowest TD output on the ground
  • Second lowest average PYPG at 168.8 with an atrocious 11 TDs scored, beating only Iowa for TDs scored
  • As you might expect, that means Illinois was the worst offense in the league overall with 296.7 YPG and if not for Iowa's anemic offense under Greg Davis, the Illini would have been dead last in TD's scored. However, Greg Davis does not hate child cancer apparently.

Of course, can you completely and unequivocally put the blame of these issues on Tim Beckman's neck? That's the question that everyone wants to know. In theory, this was a guy who turned Toledo upside down and made them a contender in the MAC. This was a guy who would make some waves after the sorrow that was the Ron Zook experiment.

So that's what you should try and figure out I guess. Sadly, last year Beckman was not known for a lot of football things in any sort of positive light. There was the whole, "Getting ran over by an official and then penalized for it," incident, the "I was not on Penn State's campus, but I might actually have been on Penn State's campus, and, well... Come on guys" incident, and there was the, "The camera's caught me chewing Skoal" incident." So yeah, we can at least say that this guy isn't exactly helping out the Illinois SID, but like I said before, he does have some credentials.

While at Toledo, he took a team that went 3-9 and got them to 9-4 before he left. He took a Toledo offense from 22.4 PPG to 29.7 to 42.2 in a stretch of three years, and he made some bowl games. Those aren't bad credentials. He preaches accountability to his kids, and by all accounts he has the drive and determination to be a winner. Of course, that would assume that all of his tactics are going to translate well to the Illini. He has a little bit of time on his hands because I am not convinced Illinois can afford to do anything about him right now. They have a few major sports contract termination fees still on their hands, and the ghost of Zook is still alive and kicking in Memorial. All that said, he needs to show something this year or the cries from Champaign migth start forcing the issue.

Quote Worth Posting on your Facebook Wall:

"It's what I thought it was when I was getting in. I knew it would be a challenge. ... I think we're moving forward."

Coach Beckman on looking back at 2012 and forward to 2013

At minimum, you cannot fault Beckman for not trying to be positive. Tough year last year and this year gives him more of a chance to have a better reflection of who he is as coach.

Tweet Up

So I decided to put on my sweatshirt!

Seriously though. Beckman is the pretty normal coach on twitter giving bits of knowledge like, "So and So is doing GREAT!!!" It's filled with exclamation points, but that's just the way it is. I look forward to the day he becomes the B1G's next Biels and starts brah-ing the joint up on twitter.

Manning the Offense

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Coach Bill Cubit

As Robert pointed out in the Illinois Cocktail Party Preview yesterday, Cubit is new to Illinois and hopes to revive what was a moribund side of the ball for the Illini last year. We have already gone over just how bad the numbers were, but to put that into context a bit, Illinois scored about 5 points less than the previous year, had 54 fewer first downs, and had over half a yard fewer per play. Illinois was the 9th ranked offense in 2011, so it's not like they were gangbusters either.

But never fear, right? Cubit had an interesting 8 year run at Western Michigan that ended in a disappointing 4-8 season that got him fired. However, it would be silly to think this is just some retread. Bill Cubit knows offense and his teams routinely finished in the 30-50 range nationally with a high of 18th ranked offense in 2011. Add to that the fact that Illinois will not be juggling two Offensive Coordinators who called plays on different downs - which, as a general rule of thumb, seems to be the dumbest idea ever and is probably an indictment on Beckman in more ways than any Illinois fan would like to think about right now - and the fact that there are some decent playmakers on that side of the ball and you have a recipe for mild success.

I mean, maybe not Indiana throwing the ball all over the field success or Wisconsin shoving the ball down your throat success. In fact, probably not even in lots of wins success, but better than second-to-last nationally success would be nice. What was I talking about again? Oh, that's right Cubit is pretty good at offense and should help Illinois stabilize Beckman's vision on that side of the ball.

Does this guy tweet?

Um, no, but he has a twitter handle: @coachcubit It has one tweet, and I'm guessing that was because he was told he should do it.

Will we see this guy being introduced as a head coach someday soon?

Honestly, I'm guessing his days as a Head Coach are probably over. Not succeeding after 8 years at a Mid Major does not equal getting a big chance to coach again. Add to that he is 59 years old and he now has to try and revive the aforementioned graveyard of an offense in Illinois, and you are basically assuming this guy is going to be an assistant for the foreseeable future. I mean, maybe a UMass or something, but unless a school is transferring to D 1A, I'm guessing they won't be desperate enough to call Cubit up.

Manning the Defense

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via fightingillini.com

Tim Banks

Tim Banks is in year two of the Beckman project. As Robert pointed out, all things considered, Illinois' defense was the least of its concerns. Still, it's not like the Illini lit the world on fire last year. Illinois gave up 5.8 yards per play in 2012, and allowed somewhere in the neighborhood of 32.1 points per game. Was that because of a bad defense or because the offense couldn't stay on the field for more than three plays is obviously a fair question.

So what do we know about Tim Banks? Previous to Illinois, Banks did help Cincy get a little better, but the jury is out on how he can develop a team in a major conference. Illinois loses a lot on defense - see: everyone - and this team does not have a lot proven behind those starters. His philosophy seems to be an attacking, physical defense, but to make that work, he needs the right athletes. Similar to Beckman, this year is important to his legacy.

Does this guy tweet?

I couldn't find a Tim Banks twitter account. I'm guessing he is too busy coaching to worry about twitter.

Will we see this guy being introduced as a head coach someday soon?

Great question. Unless Illinois gets better in a hurry, I'm not sure Tim Banks is going anywhere anytime soon. Of course, he's a pretty young guy at only 42, and he has plenty of time to move up the food chain in coaching. Still, if this season goes as poorly as last season, he might need to go back to position coach before he gets a chance as DC at a major conference school again.

Join our team at OTE

Off Tackle Empire is looking for a writer to bring that unique Champaign flavor to our coverage. Are you an Illinois alum or fan who would like to join our staff of malcontents and ne'er do wells? Contact grahamfiller10@gmail.com if you are interested.

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MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Smartest Guys in the Room

WEDNESDAY | Illini Potluck

THURSDAY | The Greatest team we never saw.

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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