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An Illinois perspective about Tim Beckman and his assistants

I-L-L-matic and Ill in STL deliver an Illinois perspective for OTE with LPW finding out how good these guys are at Twitter.

Remember when you flagged me for knocking me on my ass?
Remember when you flagged me for knocking me on my ass?
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

I don't really know that much about Illinois football, other that it stinks being Hatless and Tim Beckman is a buffoon.

I had a traditional coaching staff piece where I'd research the coaches, their social media presence, and whether any of the assistants would be head coaches, but I also asked some of the Illinois commenters for help, and I-L-L-matic delivered some great answers to my questions. I decided to throw out my research and let I-L-L-matic's answers speak for themselves, since he's an Illinois season ticket holder. You'll still see how good I think these guys are at Twitter :)

Tim Beckman's Career History
Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl
2009 Toledo Rockets 5-7 3-5 4th (West)
2010 Toledo Rockets 8-5 7-1 2nd (West) Lost Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl
2011 Toledo Rockets 8-4 7-1 Tie 1st (West) Won Military Bowl
Toledo: 21-16 17-7
2012 Illinois Fighting Illini 2-10 0-8 6th (Leaders)
2013 Illinois Fighting Illini 4-8 1-7 5th (Leaders)
2014 Illinois Fighting Illini 6-7 3-5 5th (West) Lost Heart of Dallas bowl
Illinois: 12-25 4-20
Total: 33-41

LPW: From your perspective, what does Tim Beckman have to do to keep his job this year? Will AD Mike Thomas even keep his job?

I-L-L-matic: If nothing comes of the Simon Cvijanovic accusations?  He has to at least get back to a bowl.  This has mostly gone unnoticed by most of the fanbase because of their boiling hatred for Beckman, but he has actually been doing a halfway decent job rebuilding the program.  He inherited a team that couldn't field enough players in certain position groups to have a spring game without juco help in his first year; last year he brought in our best class since 2010, one that rated 6th in the conference.  The win totals have increased each year.  You're not seeing the arrests and attrition you saw during the Zook years.  But all that is hard to see after the disastrous first year and the terribly negative first impression he made during the 2012 season - the LASAGNA! press conference, dipping during the Wisconsin Game, tripping refs during the Northwestern game, and so on.  He comes across as a buffoon in press conferences, and that really isn't helping him win over many fans.  If he doesn't get at least 6 wins, there's no way Thomas can justify keeping him.

If there's something to the Cvijanovic accusations, he's gone.

If there's something to the Cvijanovic accusations and the accusations surrounding the women's basketball program, then he, Matt Bollant (the WBB HC), and Mike Thomas are all gone. He hired these two coaches whose programs are now being independently investigated for some pretty (especially in the case of WBB) ugly stuff, and if there's any truth to any of it, the administration will clean house, as they should.  Aside from that, it's great that baseball, golf, men's track and field, and men's tennis had such great seasons, but it has been a very, very long time since both football and basketball were this bad at the same time.  A lot of people are not happy about it.

Ill in STL: I believe he has to make a bowl game again. He needs to show that he is continuing to make progress and a bowl game would show just that.

I don't believe MT's job is in question. With as well as the other sports are doing right now (football and basketball excluded), and the improvement of basketball and golf facilities, I think he is safe. Now a terrible scandal can always change that (no, the Simon C. thing does not count).

Tim Beckman's Social Media presence

His twitter account is full of coachspeak and for all we know could be written by an intern.

Parody Accounts

@coachtimbeckman seems to be the most active, but @fauxtimbeckman and @itscoachbeckman are funnier.

LPW: How would you rate the performance of OC Bill Cubit? How are you feeling about the offense this year?

I-L-L-matic: I'll give him a 7.5 out of 10.  The guy turned Nathan Scheelhaase into the top passer in the conference in 2013!  The one thing really keeping this offense from being in the top 5 in the conference this year will be the offensive line.  Cubit has one of the three or four best QBs in the conference in Lunt, but he needs to stay upright in order to produce.  The line has three known quantities in Teddy Karras (sr), Christian DiLauro (RS-so), and Austin Schmidt (jr).  Karras is a beast, and DiLauro will be one of the better tackles in the conference by his senior year.  The coaches say Schmidt has the measurables to be a good player, but he was last seen being abused by Houson Bates in the Heart of Dallas bowl.  Outside of these guys, there aren't any proven options, and depth is a major concern.  At RB, Josh Ferguson is an underrated back who catches the ball very well out of the backfield and may even see time as a slot WR with Mike Dudek out till October with an ACL tear.  Speaking of Dudek, I actually hope the coaching staff redshirts him, because (1) even if he is medically cleared to come back in October, he won't be the same player, and they shouldn't put a guy who will likely one day hold all receiving records at this school at risk of re-injuring himself, and (2) this team has two additional great talents in Malik Turner and Geronimo Allison, so the drop-off shouldn't be too severe.

Ill in STL: I believe he has to make a bowl game again. He needs to show that he is continuing to make progress and a bowl game would show just that.

It's hard to be excited without Dudek. The rest of our weapons have big question marks to me. Josh Ferguson can be electric, but can he run for constant yardage to take pressure off the passing game. Who is the real Wes Lunt? The guy who started the season last year as one of the leaders in the big ten in passing yardage, or the guy who couldn't beat out Riley OToole. Can anyone replace some of Dudek's numbers? Hopefully these things work out, but I'm still pessimistic.

Bill Cubit's Social Media presence

This one has a lot of rah-rah tweets with a lot of exclamation points, but also some good photoshop work!

Also OSKEE EMPIRE seems to be a thing... That's a little too close to Off Tackle Empire for my taste, maybe one of the lawyers amongst our readership will sue him or something.

LPW: Also, how would you rate the performance of Tim Banks / Mike Phair on the defense? How are you feeling the defense will do this year?

I-L-L-matic: 2 out of 10. Tim Banks' defenses have been putrid to this point. To be fair, the cupboard was even more bare on defense than on offense when Zook got fired; this year will be the first we start a majority of upperclassmen on that side of the ball.  Enter Mike Phair.  Though Phair is now D-line coach / co-coordinator, the co-coordinator title was dangled in the hopes of luring someone who could provide a recruiting boost, not necessarily in order to have two defensive coordinators.  No one has any idea exactly how that responsibility will be shared.  Most people scratched their heads with the hire, since his resume is a little on the thin side and most of his position coach experience was in the NFL, with no evidence of any special recruiting ability.  But so far, the players seem to love him, and the defensive line was noticeably improved this spring.  I don't know how much of that was due to maturation vs. this new guy telling players to 'do this instead of that,' but I heard enough to believe that the D-line at least won't be a liability this year.  Aside from that, Jihad Ward will be a very good D-end, and the secondary and linebacking corps are finally comprised of all upperclassmen.  That alone gives me hope that this can be a middling defense, which would be an enormous improvement over the past three years.

Ill in STL:  I'm actually a little excited. Is that the Orange koolade I'm drinking, or did our defense play half way decent at the end of the year. I'm willing to give Banks a little forgiveness for how young the defense had been.

See above. (The defense) Can't be worse than the last two years. Is Voc Koening still available?

Tim Banks's Social Media presence

Coach Banks's account looks like he writes it personally.

LPW: Are their any bad coaches you want fired? Or are any coaches worthy of praise?

I-L-L-matic: Tim Banks probably deserved to be fired, but he wasn't.  Tim Salem (special teams coach, now at Pitt) didn't deserve to be fired, but was because he wasn't a good enough recruiter.  Alex Golesh and Mike Bellamy are two that probably have bright futures ahead of them.  Golesh (tight ends / special teams) is in his early 30s, and came to Illinois with Beckman.  He's a great recruiter, though I can't really speak to his coaching acumen.  Bellamy (wide receivers) is both a great recruiter and a great position coach; wideout was the greatest strength of last year's team, and will likely be again this year even without Dudek.  He's an alum who also logged time in the NFL, and really seems to relate well to the players.

Ill in STL: Before the end of the season I would have said Banks. We'll see if the end was a mirage or his real defense.

Mike Bellamy's Social Media presence

Bellamy obviously writes this one himself. I mean, would an athletic department pr flack post a picture of a coach giving his son a haircut?

LPW: What would it take for Memorial Stadium to be a rocking environment full of Illinois fans? Is the apathy over bad football too big to overcome?

I-L-L-matic: Sigh.  I was a student from 2000 - 2004, and 2000 and 2001 were great years for football.  The stadium was full, people cared about the games, and everything was great.  Ron Turner was going to turn us into an elite B1G team!  Except he didn't, and in came Ron Zook.  He took us to a Rose Bowl, for fuck's sake!  Again, the stadium was full, and there was a lot of excitement about the program.  With his recruiting, Zook was going to have us at the top of the conference standings every year!  We were a rising power!  Except that didn't work out, either.  After the peaks of a Sugar and Rose Bowl within six years of each other, the troughs have been very hard to take for your average fan.  People feel like they've been tricked, and they aren't going to buy in again until they see consistent evidence why they should care again.  I moved to Bloomington, IL (about 45 minutes from Champaign) in 2008 and have been a season ticket holder ever since.  I can definitively tell you that the last time we had a genuinely great atmosphere at Memorial Stadium was vs. Arizona State on September 17, 2011.  Since then, and especially since we lost to Ohio State that same season in a game in which freshman Braxton Miller's only completion was for a touchdown, it has been awful.  People joke about the attendance for last year's Penn State game; I was there, and I can tell you it was even more empty than even the most hyperbolic report claimed.  It's not that winning is the only thing that will bring the fans back, though that's probably partly true.  The main thing is that people don't want to be embarrassed to be a fan of their team, and that's what too many Illinois fans are right now.  Give them a reason to be proud of their team, and you'll start to get them back.

Ill in STL: I don't think it is too big to overcome, but you aren't going to play well for one season and get people back. We've had good seasons before (Rose Bowl), and then tanked the next year when expectations were higher. Is it too much to ask for some amount of consistency? I may live in Missouri, but Illinois may be the Show me state right now.

[ed note: Thanks for the help I-L-L-matic and ILL in STL]

B1G 2015: Illinois Week

OTE Wants You! to write for Illinois so we don't have to

OTE Wants you!

MONDAY - Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY - Personnel Files/Smartest Guys in the Room  (you just read this)

WEDNESDAY - Illinois Potluck

THURSDAY - Wild Card

FRIDAY - Hate or Get Real