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Will Thomas Hold Beckman To Zook’s Standards?

mike-thomas-624x416Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) For recent Illinois football coaches, the third time has been the charm.

In 1999, after he posted a 2-14 Big Ten record during his first two seasons, Ron Turner broke through in Year 3 by reaching the MicronPC.com Bowl. In 2007, after he posted a 1-15 conference record during his first two seasons, Ron Zook broke through in Year 3 by reaching the Rose Bowl. And now in 2014, after posting a 1-15 Big Ten record during his first two seasons, Tim Beckman has his own opportunity to break through in Year 3 by reaching a bowl game.

But if Beckman does achieve six wins and qualifies for the postseason with a victory at Northwestern on Saturday, will it qualify as a breakthrough?

Or will it instead be considered a breakdown?

That’s what Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas must weigh this week as he wades into a tricky situation regarding his handpicked football coach that’s completely of his own making.

If Beckman loses on Saturday in Evanston, the decision about his future should be a pretty easy one for Thomas. After all, firing a coach with a 3-21 Big Ten record in three seasons who has clearly lost the support and interest of his program’s fan base is a logical call.

However, if Beckman goes out and wins against the Wildcats, then his future gets considerably more complicated, along with Thomas’ job.

It’s difficult, after all, to dismiss a coach headed to a bowl game. Although, three years ago, Thomas did just that when he ousted Ron Zook following a 6-6 regular season that had his team bound for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Continue reading at CBSChicago.com