After much speculation, Illinois has officially hired Toledo head coach Tim Beckman to take the same job in Champaign. Beckman was 21-16 during his three years in Ohio after taking over a program in the middle of a point-shaving investigation.
The Rockets went 8-4 this season, but were a possession away from beating Ohio State, Syracuse and MAC champion Northern Illinois.
There was a rumor that the Illini could attract current Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, but Beckman was always going to be the best they could do.
With all of the openings in college football, why on earth would Sumlin take a job all the way up in Illinois?
He knows the Texas area well, and with head coaching jobs open at Texas A&M, Arizona State and even UCLA, there would be no reason for him to take his talents up north to the Big Ten where spread offenses are essentially non-existent.
Taking a guy who has spent all his time as a head coach in Ohio is considerably better from a recruiting standpoint.
Plus, Illinois does not have the greatest football tradition, which is a selling point for a lot of top coaches. The program has not been consistently relevant since at least the early 1990s, and the students are considerably more interested in the basketball team than the football team.
Obviously coaching in the Big Ten is a great honor and achievement, but it is no longer the best football conference out there. The SEC is without a doubt the best and the Big 12 and Pac-12 are not far behind that, especially with all of the coaching hires in the Pac-12.
And winning in the Big Ten will be a lot more difficult going forward, with the rise of Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State as well the hiring of Urban Meyer at Ohio State. If you plan on winning there, you have to be able to recruit in Ohio and Beckman does that better than anyone else.
Couple that with the lack of tradition, and there was no way Illinois was going to do any better than Toledo’s Tim Beckman.