Illini Football Fans Deserve Better – And Need To Believe It

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Last December, while rooting about for a successor to Ron Zook, the ever-daffy football coach that he had just fired, University of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas took to the Internet to address Illini Nation.

“As our search for a new head football coach moves forward, I have a strong sense of the type of coach we need to realize the potential of Illini football,” Thomas shared in his blog at

“I intend to contact a trusted group of friends who are well respected in collegiate and professional football circles. A successful football coach at Illinois or any top-tier college program must have talents beyond the knowledge of the game, particularly for a program intent on establishing itself consistently among the Top 25 BCS programs in the country and at the top of the Big Ten. We will find this person for Illinois!”

So, as we sit here at the midway point of the 2012 season, did Thomas find this coach whose “talents go beyond knowledge of the game”? Did he find the man who will, at long last, finally “realize the potential of Illini football”?

Or did he, well, simply find Tim Beckman?

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  • denbert

    Illinois football has underachieved for decades. We have consistently projected incompetence on the gridiron – incompetence, that for better or worse, is damaging the academic reputation of a premier university – and reducing alumni financial support.

    Isn’t it time to recognize that football is of strategic importance to the university and that its management can no longer be entrusted to professional coaches and the athletic department. Football is big business and should be treated as such.

    Football is both a strategic opportunity and a strategic threat to the future of the university, and as such, requires the attention of every student and professor.

    Why not invite the professors and students of the schools of engineering, business, math, computer science, psychology, etc to apply their academic talents across all aspects of the football program from recruiting, to analyzing opponent’s tendencies, to calling timeouts, offensive and defensive strategy and even plays. We might be surprised at how quickly this approach could improve performance, morale and alumni contributions at Illinois.