The 2015 college football season has not yet started, but Illinois got a jump start on the coaching carousel anyway. Illinois announced the firing of head coach Tim Beckman on Friday, with an external investigation into the football program apparently serving as grounds for termination based on initial results.
“The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I’ve chosen to act accordingly,” Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said in a released statement. “During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program.”
Beckman was just 12-25 during his three seasons in Champaign, although he managed to win two more games each of his previous two years before finally getting the Illini to a bowl game in 2014. Despite showing signs of progress on the field, what was allegedly happening off of it ultimately did Beckman in.
This section from the Illinois press release seems to confirm earlier allegations by a handful of former players under Beckman;
During a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers, Thomas said he learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries. He also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren’t on the team.
That’s just not a good look, although Beckman has already fired back to say, once again, those accusations are utterly false. Beckman already lacked a level of credibility by developing a poor reputation since his arrival at Illinois. Beckman and his staff were active and persistent vultures at Penn State when the NCAA slammed the program with sanctions and allowed players a free transfer. Shortly after that Beckman and his staff were found on Penn State’s campus, outside dorms and apartments and football buildings waiting to pounce. While legal according to the NCAA, it was not a good look for Illinois or Beckman. Since then, the crowd continued to turn on Beckman, which was evident at this summer’s Big Ten media day event in Chicago, where the media seemed to be playing the role of vulture to Beckman’s carcass amid the brewing controversy.
As the allegations started raining on Illinois and Beckman, Thomas backed his head coach while at the same time promising to review the situation. From May 11, 2015 (via College Football Talk);
“The feedback I get from the players and our players’ families is that these coaches genuinely care for them and treat them like their own children,” Thomas told reporters. “It’s been very positive from the kids and the families. They talk a lot about the family atmosphere. They talk about the culture. They talk about the caring of our coaches as it relates to their well-being. …
“We will have a follow-up. We will review, and the timeline and who’s to be involved will be determined very soon.”
Now Thomas looks a bit foolish as well, and David Haugh of The Chicago Tribune is calling for Thomas to be next in line to lose his job. Andy Coppens of Talking 10 raises the same question. Thomas made the right call here, assuming the information provided confirms previous allegations, but he should not be getting off without criticism.
With Beckman’s sudden change in employment status, the brand new coaching carousel page is ready to roll for the upcoming season. And you thought the coaching carousel got off to a fast start last year when June Jones suddenly resigned from his post at SMU just a couple of weeks into the year. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named the Illinois interim head coach and should be expected to hold that title for the entire season.
2015-2016 Coaching Carousel
|School||Previous Coach||New Coach|
|Bowling Green||Dino Babers||Mike Jinks|
|BYU||Bronco Mendenhall||Kalani Sitake|
|East Carolina||Ruffin McNeil||Scottie Montgomery|
|Georgia||Mark Richt||Kirby Smart|
|Georgia Southern||Willie Fritz||Tyson Summers|
|Hawaii||Norm Chow||Nick Rolovich|
|Illinois||Tim Beckman||Bill Cubit|
|Illinois||Bill Cubit||Lovie Smith|
|Iowa State||Paul Rhoads||Matt Campbell|
|Louisiana-Monroe||Todd Berry||Matt Viator|
|Maryland||Randy Edsall||D.J. Durkin|
|Memphis||Justin Fuente||Mike Norvell|
|Miami||Al Golden||Mark Richt|
|Minnesota||Jerry Kill||Tracy Claeys|
|Missouri||Gary Pinkel||Barry Odom|
|North Texas||Dan McCarney||Seth Littrell|
|Rutgers||Kyle Flood||Chris Ash|
|South Carolina||Steve Spurrier||Will Muschamp|
|Southern Mississippi||Todd Monken||Jay Hopson|
|Syracuse||Scott Shafer||Dino Babers|
|Texas State||Dennis Franchione||Everett Withers|
|Toledo||Matt Campbell||Jason Candle|
|Tulane||Curtis Johnson||Willie Fritz|
|UCF||George O'Leary||Scott Frost|
|USC||Steve Sarkisian||Clay Helton|
|UTSA||Larry Coker||Frank Wilson|
|Virginia||Mike London||Bronco Mendenhall|
|Virginia Tech||Frank Beamer||Justin Fuente|
“*” designates interim head coach.