Taking the Pulse of Illinois Football

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a dominating performance against Purdue in week one the Bearcats get ready to face yet another Big 10 opponent in the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois. The Illini are coming off their first win since last September, and yet expectations remain low among the faithful.

It has been a rough couple of years for the Fighting Illini. Just 7 years ago the Illini made a miracle run to the Rose Bowl behind the legs and arms of Juice Williams and a phenomenal performance against Ohio State. For their trouble they were quickly, and brutally, dispatched by the Men of Troy. It was the high water mark for the Zooker, even though he remained on the job for a full five seasons. Zook had his moments, but he was never that consistent, with any momentum gained quickly squandered.

Mike Thomas dropped the axe at the end of the 2011 regular season.    A year that summed up Zook and his tenure almost too perfectly. They shocked a good Arizona State team in September to get into the polls, won the next three against Western Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana to climb as high as 16th in the AP. They then promptly lost the last 6 of the year and Zook was gone.

Mike "MAC mentality" Thomas did what he does in hiring a new coach. He went after the hottest name in the MAC, Tim Beckman. Beckman made Toledo competitive again, but he never really had the breakthrough, he topped out with 8 wins and never won the division, let alone the conference. That itself is enough to raise question marks with the hire. The fact that most of his offensive staff stayed behind with Matt Campbell, thus robbing him of the one thing that made Toledo good, had to set alarm bells ringing. Then he decided to dispatch 8 assistants to State College to persuade two Nittany Lions, who were made free agents by the NCAA punishment for the Jerry Sandusky Scandal, to come to Champaign-Urbana. Then the season started, and things got worse.

Basically the Illini have spent the last six seasons digging for rock bottom, hitting it, continuing to dig and, in the process, finding new more exciting bottoms on which to rest before the next, inevitable, round of digging starts. As far as I can tell there is next to no support for Beckman from the fans or the media. No one is running out any of the tropes so commonly associated with struggling head coaches. He isn't trying to fix "the culture" or "instill toughness and discipline" on a bunch of ill suited inherited players. It seems that everyone simply acknowledges that it was a bad hire. That there is next to no hope of preventing the good ship Illinois from sailing head first at top speed (OK, A speed) into the first iceberg it can find is just a given.

Beckman might last through this season. If he wins three games (1 down, 2 to go!) Mike Thomas can keep him around without too much fuss. But there is a ticking clock on Beckman's head, and even if it keeps ticking through this December, it won't be ticking through the next December unless there is drastic improvement. Drastic improvement though, that's just not a club that Tim Beckman has in his bag.

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Down The Drive

You must be a member of Down The Drive to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Down The Drive. You should read them.

Join Down The Drive

You must be a member of Down The Drive to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Down The Drive. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker