Illinois can move on from bizarre Beckman era
Right when he said it, everybody knew Tim Beckman was desperately fighting for his job.
It made no sense whatsoever. Anybody who has ever read a professional publication, much less written for one, knew how far off it was. Besides blatantly offending an entire race, the Illinois coach said about the worst possible thing he could’ve said to the media.
He asked for their support.
It was a desperate, naive attempt to win back the favor of the media that long since made up its opinion of him. Even crazier, he saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he said. Beckman’s downfall at Illinois was a complete lack of understanding of his surroundings.
Even upon his firing, he still showed such a distant perception of reality. Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas revealed that they had conducted over 90 interviews and that the law firm they hired to investigate had reviewed over 200,000 documents on Beckman’s alleged mistreatment of players.
And what was Beckman’s defense?
He released a statement to the Associated Press — probably trying to rally them, too — in which he said he believed the university rushed to judgement and did not complete the investigation.
Does he actually think the 90 interviews and 200,000 reviewed documents were inconclusive? Is he oblivious enough to believe that countless former players are taking time out of their busy lives to make up stories of mistreatment?
Thomas found enough out to make one of the oddest timed firings in the history of college football. He wouldn’t have fired a coach a week before the season opener he didn’t have to. But he did.
What Beckman didn’t understand was that the reports were going to go public mid-season. Illinois could not afford to let the mistreatment findings go public before they addressed them. The university would’ve looked like it was covering up for their abusive coach, even if they fired him immediately following the release of the reports.
If Illinois had chosen to further defend Beckman until the bitter end of this fallout, it would’ve put an even bigger black eye on the program. The university made its best attempt to wash its hands and move on from this mess.
That’s really the only way to classify the Beckman era in Champaign. A mess. Don’t let the Illini’s miraculous two-game run to the Heart of Dallas Bowl fool you. Nothing about a 4-20 Big Ten record is impressive.
Did Beckman have moments that reassured Illinois’ reason for hiring him? Sure, he did. He got an under recruited guy like Mikey Dudek to play like a star as a true freshman. When quarterback Wes Lunt battled injuries, Beckman helped steer the ship to six wins and prevented the university from firing him immediately after 2014.
But the bizarre moments will define his time in Champaign.
We should’ve known when he spouted off about lasagna and 105 rockets at his introductory press conference that he was an odd dude. Or there was the time when Beckman thought he could get away with chewing tobacco on the sidelines during an actual game. You know, it’s not like he was going to be on TV or anything.
Beyond his hatred of purple pens or desire to make EVERYTHING and acronym, it was inability to win and be a jerk while doing so that we’ll remember.
It’s a shame for interim coach Bill Cubit, because he takes over a coaching staff that will inevitably be on the way out at season’s end. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if following the release of Beckman’s mistreatment findings, Thomas was let go, as well.
It isn’t easy to start from scratch in the Big Ten. With how intense recruiting has become, Illinois’ situation could be grim in the coming years.
But at least now the university can move on from the strange, stormy cloud that was Tim Beckman.