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Illinois HC Tim Beckman shows desperation in blaming academics

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Such is the case for Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman, who has his back firmly against the wall in Champaign, Ill. It would explain the fact that Beckman decided to lash out at the admissions people and that pesky thing called academic standards.

Yes, Beckman went off about the fact that higher academic standards are the only thing standing in the way of him and success on the recruiting trail.

It’s no secret that the Big Ten likes to flaunt the academic traditions at its schools. Hell, the league would like to remind you that it is up there with the Ivy League in terms of its standards, even if 13 of the 14 schools are public institutions.

There’s also little secret that the Big Ten must recruit differently than most conferences that are really good at football. You can’t play any sport in the Big Ten and just be an NCAA academic qualifier, and that makes it different from being able to go after some of the talent that can get in to any SEC school (minus Vanderbilt).

However, schools like Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin seem to have very little issue getting some of the biggest names on the recruiting trail in to school despite some very difficult academic standards.

Case in point, defensive tackle Craig Evans from Sun Prairie, Wis. He wanted to be a Badger and Gary Andersen and his staff wanted that to happen too. Except his academic history wouldn’t allow him entry to the university, and instead he moved on to Michigan State where the standards are a bit different.

Still, Wisconsin managed a top 30 class in Andersen’s first go-round despite academic standards that are above and beyond the requirements by the NCAA clearing house.

Then there’s this other school up the road in a suburb of Chicago named Northwestern. Last time we checked that school had some crazy-high academic standards, and last time we checked Fitzgerald and Co. were whipping the floor with Beckman for players in the state of Illinois.

It’s gotten so bad that according to Northwestern site, the Illini lost out on every single player in the state of Illinois that it wanted.

Beckman also conveniently forgets the fact that his predecessor, Ron Zook, had no such issues recruiting highly touted talent to Champaign (he just couldn’t coach ’em up when they got there).

Zook’s Recruiting Classes at Illinois (according to

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In comparison, Beckman’s best class has been 9th in the Big Ten, but has also included the dead last class in 2014. Beckman has landed just two 4-star recruits in the 122 players he’s landed going in to the 2015 class. That’s .016 percent of the players he’s gotten as 4-star star recruits.

While Beckman may not want to admit it, he’s the only one to blame for the fact that he’s 10-23 overall and just 2-19 in Big Ten games.

Hiring Tim Banks at defensive coordinator, sticking with him after two terrible years, failing to spark any interest from top-level recruits and swinging and missing on the JUCO trail are why Beckman is in danger of losing his job — not the “academic rigors” of the University of Illinois.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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