Illinois AD noncommittal on Beckman's future

Illinois AD noncommittal on Beckman's future

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was hoping for improvement in Tim Beckman’s second season as head coach.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman (Photo: John Beale, AP)It couldn’t get much worse than than the 2-10 2012 campaign, after all.

Following a 3-1 start, things looked promising. But five games — and five straight conference losses — later, the progress is a little murkier.

New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has improved the offense. The Illini is scoring 29.7 points per game this season, good enough for eighth best in the league.

Problem is, an atrocious defense has gotten even worse, allowing 34.7 points per game this season vs. 32.7 in 2012.

The result is a 3-6 record and an 0-5 conference mark.

Illinois faces Ohio State at home on Saturday followed by a road trip to Purdue before the closing out the season at home against Northwestern.

Assuming a 1-2 finish, Beckman technically will have improved things from last season.

But is it enough to save his job?

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You ask the question, ‘Is the program developing and getting better?’ I think it is. I’m looking forward to continuing progress in the program.”

The Illini has lost a disturbing 19 straight conference games, tied for second-worst all time. Northwestern’s 38-straight conference losses between 1978-82 probably won’t ever be touched, but with Ohio State visiting Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Illinois owning second place outright is a virtual certainty.

If Illinois goes winless in its last three, things could get ugly in a hurry.

“Obviously, we don’t want the streak to become the focus,” Thomas said. “We want to get past it. That’s important to us.

“I think we need to start winning football games.”

Photo: John Beale, AP

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