Poking fun or taking jabs at the state of Illinois football has been fair and warranted at times over the past few seasons, but head coach Tim Beckman appears to be safe during this year’s edition of the coaching carousel. On the same day that saw Nebraska fire Bo Pelini despite a string of nine-win seasons, Illinois will reportedly keep Beckman in charge of its football program.
Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported via Twitter Beckman will return to coach the Illini in 2015, citing an unnamed source. You may be quick to think that sounds crazy, but take a deeper look at what is happening with Illinois. There are signs of improvement with the program that are often easy to overlook.
Illinois had to win its final two games of the season in order to become bowl eligible. They did just that with a home win against Penn State and a road win against Northwestern. Northwestern was also playing for bowl eligibility against the Illini.This is the second season Beckman has coached Illinois to a better win total since he took over the job in 2012. The Illini won just two games his first year and four games in 2013. This season Illinois won six games and is now eligible for the postseason.
The stats do need to improve at Illinois though. The Illini scored just 26.6 ppg and allowed 33.9 ppg this season. Each loss taken by Illinois also came by double digits. Illinois is going bowling on the strength of wins against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Texas State, Penn State and Northwestern. Somehow, the Illini also upset Minnesota to make a bowl game even a remote possibility.
Coaches need to show signs of progress in order to save jobs if they are not going to be competing regularly for national titles. This is why Pelini is out of work and Beckman will continue to keep his.