By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) For Tim Beckman, even when he’s right, it still somehow ends up being wrong.
On Monday morning after spring football practice in Champaign, the University of Illinois’ third-year football coach turned a molehill into something of a mountain when he spoke out against a recent Sports Illustrated story about the Illini.
In the article, which was posted online on March 25, Beckman was quoted in the final sentence as saying, “I want this program to get better. That’s the bottom line. And that means five or six wins.”
Personally, I didn’t have any big problems with that line or the SI article, which I found to be balanced and honest. After going just 6-18 during Beckman’s first two seasons, the program does need to get better. That’s the bottom line. And after last year’s 4-8 campaign, that would mean five or six wins, although I do think that Beckman needs six – qualifying the Illini for a bowl game – in order to survive to coach a fourth season.
In the week after the SI story went live, I didn’t see any backlash on social media about Beckman’s quote and didn’t think much of it myself. But Beckman felt a need to lash back on Monday. According to the Champaign News-Gazette, before the media could even ask a question following the end of Illinois’ practice, the coach pointed to his right wrist.
On it, Beckman apparently is now wearing a bracelet bearing the numbers “12-6-14,” which is the date of the 2014 Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Showing off his swag, Beckman told the assembled media that he was misquoted in the SI article, written by Chris Johnson.
He said, “I don’t know how that got quoted that way, but it wasn’t quoted the way that it should be, of course. You want to win and go for championships. That’s why you’re in this profession.”
Now, I’m really not sure if Beckman feels that he misspoke to SI or if he actually claims that he was misquoted by the reporter. Either way, I think his original quote was better than his updated one. Because while championships may indeed be the reason why football coaches get into the profession, every coach also knows that before you can talk seriously about winning Big Ten championships – especially if you’re a coach who has won only one Big Ten game so far in your career – you need to first focus on, you know, winning five or six games.
Just like Beckman said in the SI piece, or didn’t say in the SI piece, but still probably should have said in the SI piece.
It’s fine, I suppose, if Beckman wants to talk a big game during the spring and have people thinking he’s gunning for a Big Ten title this fall. I get that he’s under pressure to win this season in order to save his job (and should be). But honestly, anyone who knows anything about the Big Ten, Illinois football and Tim Beckman knows that a championship isn’t in the cards this coming season.
And, really, it just sounds silly for Beckman to be talking that way. I’d feel better about the coach if he instead showed that he has a good sense of exactly where his program actually is right now rather than pretending as if it’s already prepared to go where he ultimately wants it to be. The Illini need to focus on progress and making any bowl this coming season, not on making the Rose Bowl.
But about the Big Ten Championship game, Beckman also said on Monday, “Whatever it takes for us to get to that, that’s always what our goals are. If you get to that game, with the new concept of having this bowl system and the four-game (playoff), you’re going to have a great chance to play for a national championship.”
And now Tim Beckman, a coach who is 1-15 all-time in the Big Ten, is talking about national championships, too.
Maybe he’ll ultimately claim he was misquoted on that, as well.