Tim Beckman

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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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The Coaching Wire: Saturday, March 9, 2013

A.J. Ricker has been officially named offensive line coach at Illinois. (WMU)

A.J. Ricker has been officially named offensive line coach at Illinois. (WMU)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]llinois head coach Tim Beckman officially announced the hiring of A.J. Ricker as offensive line coach.

As we reported on Thursday, he replaces Jim Bridge, who left earlier this week to join Darrell Hazell’s Purdue staff.

Ricker is very familiar with Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, having spent time under him as a player and coach.

Cubit was offensive coordinator at Missouri in 2000 and Ricker, a redshirt freshman, started all 13 games at center. Ricker went on to start 47 consecutive games for the Tigers between 2000-03 and was an All-Big 12 selection as a senior.

As head coach at Western Michigan, Cubit gave Ricker his start in coaching, hiring him as a graduate assistant in 2006. Ricker worked as a graduate assistant in 2006-07 and an offensive quality control assistant in 2008.

Two years later, Cubit hired Ricker as the Broncos’ offensive offensive line coach in 2012. He spent the past two seasons with the Broncos, before Cubit was fired in November after a 4-8 season.

Beckman hired Cubit as Illinois’ offensive coordinator in January. Ricker had been hired by Middle Tennessee State as tight ends and tackles coach in February.

“I’m very excited to be with Coach Beckman and back with Coach Cubit,” Ricker said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for the way Coach Beckman coaches, having been in the MAC and coaching against him for two years.

“Coach Cubit coached me at Missouri and gave me a start as a coach by hiring me as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan. The man is a genius when it comes to offense.”

Ricker spent the 2009-10 seasons at Division II St. Joseph’s (Ind.). He was offensive line coach in 2009 and head coach in 2010.


Princeton adds two assistants; announces title and role changes

Bob Surace has added two new assistants at Princeton and announced a number of staff moves. Sean Gleeson has been hired to coach the Princeton running backs, while Trevor Powers will coach the outside linebackers.

Gleeson was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Fairleigh Dickinsonthe past two seasons. At Fairleigh Dickinson, he worked under head coach Brian Surace, Bob’s younger brother.

Powers spent the past two seasons at Rutgers, where he worked as a defensive quality control assistant with the linebackers. He also spent time working quality control for defense at New Hampshire, as well as a four-year stint as a defensive and special teams coach at Bowdoin.

Powers will work with both Jim Salgado and Steve Verbit, who will serve as do-defensive coordinators. He will coach the outside linebackers and Stephen Thomas will now serve as inside linebackers coach.

Eddy Morrissey, who has coached the offensive line the last three years, has added the title of assistant head coach, while Ryan Roeder will take over as special teams coordinator for Salgado.


Freeman joins Eastern Illinois staff

Dino Babers has hired veteran assistant Tom Freeman as an assistant on defense at Eastern Illinois. Freeman brings more than 30 years of coaching experience with him to the Panthers staff, and was an assistant at Hawaii when Babers played there. The two later coached together at Arizona State, Purdue and Pittsburgh. Most recently, Freeman served as offensive line coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of theCFL in 2010.


Masella adds offensive coordinator duties at Wagner

Assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Tom Masella will take on the offensive coordinator role at Wagner. Masella began his coaching career at Wager in 1981, and had stints at Fairfield, Boston University, Central Connecticut and Fordham before returning to the Seahawks’ staff last fall. Jason Houghtaling, last season’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, is now offensive coordinator at Cornell. Ben Martin, a former Princeton assistant and Texas A&M quality control staff member, was hired as offensive line coach earlier this week.

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A.J. Ricker will be Illinois' offensive line coach

A.J. Ricker

[dropcap]A[/dropcap].J. Ricker will be named offensive line coach at Illinois, sources confirm.

Ricker, who was Bill Cubit’s offensive line coach at Western Michigan, had been hired by Middle Tennessee State as tight ends and tackles coach in February.

He replaces Jim Bridge, who left earlier this week to join Darrell Hazell’s Purdue staff.

Ricker spent the past two seasons working under Cubit, who was fired after the Broncos finished 2012 with a 4-8 record. Tim Beckman hired Cubit as Illinois’ offensive coordinator in January.

A native of Klein, Texas, Ricker played center at Missouri from 2000-03. He holds the school record for consecutive starts with 47, and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2003.

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Illinois tabs Bellamy as wide receivers coach

Mike Bellamy was an All-American wide receiver at Illinois. (Photo: Illinois Athletics)

Mike Bellamy was an All-American wide receiver at Illinois. (Photo: Illinois Athletics)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]llinois head coach Tim Beckman will promote former Illini star Mike Bellamy to wide receivers coach.

Bellamy joined the Illinois staff last season as associate recruiting coordinator.

Bellamy was an All-Big Ten selection in 1989 and was drafted by Philadelphia in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Bellamy had a seven-year professional career the included stints with the Colts, Bears and Raiders as well as the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League.

Following his football career, Bellamy entered private business in Atlanta before becoming a coach. In 2008, he joined the staff at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Ga. as passing game coordinator, receiver and specialists coach and held that position until 2010. In 2011, he became the receiver and specialists coach at Clark-Atlanta.

Billy Gonzales coached the Illini receivers in 2012, serving as co-offensive coordinator with Chris Beatty. Beatty was fired in early January, and Gonzales was forced off the staff in February. Gonzales joined Mississippi State’s staff as wide receivers coach last week while Beatty will be receivers coach on Gary Andersen’s staff at Wisconsin.

Illinois finished 2-10 in 2012 and had the worst offense in the Big Ten Conference at just 16.7 points per game and 296.7 yards per game.

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Chris Beatty to be Wisconsin receivers coach

Former Illinois co-offensive coordinator Chris Beatty has been hired at Wisconsin. (Photo: AP File)

Chris Beatty, who has coached at Illinois, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, has been hired at Wisconsin. (Photo: AP File)

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]x-Illinois co-offensive coordinator Chris Beatty will be the new wide receivers coach at Wisconsin.

Beatty joins Gary Andersen after spending last year on Tim Beckman’s staff. He was fired after just one season, as the IIllini averaged just 16.7 points per game last season, last in the Big Ten during a 2-10 year.

Prior to Illinois, Beatty was wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt in 2011. Before that, he spent three seasons as running backs and slot receivers coach and director of recruiting at West Virginia.

Beatty was co-offensive coordinator with Billy Gonzales who accepted a position at Mississippi State yesterday. Gonzales was thought to be in consideration for the Wisconsin position, but he and Dan Mullen had coached together previously at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

Beatty said that he was not surprised by the firing at Illinois.

“Not really,” Beatty told IlliniHQ.com. “After the year we had, you know there are going to be some changes. Having said that, it’s disappointing. It is what it is. Accept it and move on.

“You never know in this business what’s going to happen day to day, much less week to week or year to year. Hopefully, my resume prior to this stop kind of speaks for itself because we’ve been successful wherever we’ve been. Everything will work out. Everything happens for a reason.”

Beckman hired former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit as his offensive coordinator last month.

There is one open spot on the Illinois staff, as Beckman hired ex-Millersville (Pa.) head coach Greg Colby to the defensive line. Colby replaced Keith Gilmore, who left for North Carolina.

 

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Billy Gonzales to join Mississippi State staff

Billy Gonzales, who coached at Illinois, LSU, Florida, and Utah, will be Wisconsin's new wide receivers coach. (Photo: LSU Athletics)

Billy Gonzales, who coached at Illinois, LSU, Florida, and Utah, will be Wisconsin’s new wide receivers coach. (Photo: LSU Athletics)

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Illinois co-offensive coordinator Billy Gonzales will join Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State.

Gonzales, who is known as an excellent recruiter, spent last season on Tim Beckman’s staff at Illinois as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Gonzales worked with Mullen on Urban Meyer’s staffs at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

It was announced last week that Gonzales would not return to Illinois. He was also thought to be a target of Doc Holliday at Marshall and was mentioned as a possible receivers coach on Gary Andersen’s staff at Wisconsin.

An official announcement concerning the hire is expected to be made later today or Wednesday.

Mullen will have to make room for Gonzales as the Bulldogs currently have nine on the field assistants. The most likely scenario is a current assistant moving to an administrative role.

According to Brandon Marcello of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Gonzales was on the MSU campus today. At Illinois, he shared offensive coordinator duties with Chris Beatty in 2012, but Beatty was fired after the Illini averaged only 16.7 points per game.

Gonzales coached at LSU in 2010-11 as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. Prior to LSU, Gonzales coached under Urban Meyer at three different schools – Bowling Green, Utah and Florida .

He coached for two years at Bowling Green under Meyer and alongside Beckman before moving on with Meyer to Utah for the 2003-04 seasons. Gonzales was part of national championship teams at Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Gonzales will be the third new member of the Bulldogs’ staff since the end of the 2012 season. Mullen hired former NFL assistant Deshea Townsend as the team’s cornerbacks coach in January after Melvin Smith left for a similar position at Auburn. Geoff Collins was promoted to defensive coordinator and David Turner joined the staff when Chris Wilson left State to coach Georgia’s defensive line in January.

At Illinois, Gonzales shared the offensive coordinator title with Chris Beatty, who was let go after the season. Illinois averaged only 16.7 points per game last season, last in the Big Ten during a 2-10 year.

Beckman hired former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit as his offensive coordinator last month.

There is one open spot on the Illinois staff, as Beckman hired ex-Millersville (Pa.) head coach Greg Colby to the defensive line. Colby replaced Keith Gilmore, who left for North Carolina.

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Greg Colby returns to Illinois as DL coach

Greg Colby is the new defensive line coach at Illinois. (Photo: Millersville Athletics)

Greg Colby is the new defensive line coach at Illinois. (Photo: Millersville Athletics)

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]reg Colby is returning to Illinois.

Colby, who spent the past five seasons as head coach of Division II Millersville (Pa.), will be defensive line coach on Tim Beckman’s staff. He replaces Keith Gilmore, who left on Feb. 5 to become defensive line coach at North Carolina.

Colby posted an 11-44 record at Millersville.

A former football and baseball player at Illinois, Colby was an Illini assistant coach from 1988-95 coaching outside linebackers and special teams. Colby was part of a Big Ten Championship season in 1989 and six bowl appearances in seven years.

Colby 34 years coaching experience, including 27 years as a collegiate coach and 10 years as a D-I defensive coordinator. He has recruited in most of the country during his time as a coach with an emphasis on the Midwest, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Canada.

Prior to Millersville, Colby spent six years as defensive coordinator at Northwestern University (2002-07). It was one of the most successful periods in Northwestern football history, with three consecutive six-win seasons for the first time in 70 years and a pair of bowl appearances. He was defensive coordinator at Kent State from 1998-2001.

From 1995-97, Colby coached defensive line, outside linebackers and was co-special teams coordinator on Nick Saban’s Michigan State staff. The Spartans appeared in three straight bowl games.

Millersville has named defensive coordinator Ron Rankin, a 14-year Marauder assistant, has been named interim coach.

“The University stands firmly behind our football program, and we will work quickly to conduct a national search for a new head coach,” said Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Aminta Hawkins-Breaux.  “While we’re sad to see Coach Colby go, we know our student athletes will be in good hands with Coach Rankin.”

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