Illinois football’s tumultuous offseason reached a crescendo at almost the last possible moment Friday. FootballScoop.com first reported Tim Beckman was fired as the Illini’s head coach after three unsuccessful seasons and allegations of player mistreatment made in the spring.
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit takes over as head coach for the season, but barring a truly miraculous season, the search for a new full-time replacement likely begins now.
No slight on Cubit, who had a few standout seasons as head coach at Western Michigan, but he’s stepping into a no-win situation. Tim Beckman’s firing is one piece removed from the tumbling Jenga tower that is Illinois’ current athletic situation.
Please excuse Purdue celebrating its impending climb out of the Big Ten West cellar.
For a coach to be fired one week — ONE WEEK! — before the season opener suggests university brass uncovered some seriously dirty laundry. The last, high-profile firing before a season actually began was Butch Davis amid the improper benefits and academic malfeasance scandal at North Carolina. And even UNC acted a full month before kickoff.
Dirty laundry, it is. ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy reports:
Illinois found Tim Beckman deterred injury reporting & influenced players to avoid or postpone medical treatment & continue playing
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 28, 2015
McMurphy’s initial report would corroborate former offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic’s Twitter rant from May, which cranked up the burner on Tim Beckman’s already-hot seat.
Former Illinois player Simon Cvijanovic to AP’s @DavidMercerAP “All I can say right now is I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) August 28, 2015
CNN aired an investigation into Illinois athletics last month, which focused primarily on claims of racism and bullying within the Illini women’s basketball program. However, the investigation also took aim at Tim Beckman’s football program.
The CNN investigation, combined with Illinois’ lack of success since he took over in 2012, likely doomed Tim Beckman to unemployed at season’s end. But the process got a boost this month, first with the resignation of chancellor Phyllis Wise, then Monday with the resignation of provost Ilesanmi Adesida on Monday.
Illinois is going through a purge, and firing Tim Beckman was the only logical choice amid the current tumult. No sense letting him play out the season with the Illini, particularly in light of McMurphy’s report.