Just about any time he's been asked about Tim Beckman's job security, athletic director Mike Thomas has been supportive of the man he hired. He showed that support following last season when, with plenty of cries for Beckman's head coming from a vocal portion of the fan base, Thomas let cooler heads prevailed and kept Beckman around for another season.
Thomas talked to the team on Wednesday and offered his support, as you'd expect him to do, but afterward he stopped by the Tay and J Show and talked a bit more about Tim Beckman's job status. According to Thomas, the number of wins will not be the deciding factor in Tim Beckman's fate, but rather what kind of improvement we see from the team this fall.
"Everyone wants to ask the questions about wins, and I'm not going to get into is there a magic number," Thomas said. "It's really about are you seeing improvement. Are you seeing improvement in the different phases of the game. Are you relative in the games? Are you being competitive? Certainly, the other things we've done well you don't want to take a step back.
"I mean you got to give us high marks for what our kids have done in the classroom, what our kids have done in the community and the way they've gone about business, including the coaching staff. So those things I think they've done very, very well. But at the end of the day, it's not mutually exclusive. You can win football games and do those things that well, and that's the key."
Now, personally, I'm still of the belief that unless 2013 is an utter and complete disaster, Tim Beckman will get a third season. I feel like any coach should get a minimum of three years before a decision is made on whether or not he can run a successful program, and with Wes Lunt entering the fold next season, it's only fair that Beckman gets a shot at running things with a possible star on the roster.
We've seen a philosophical change to what the Illini are looking to do on offense this offseason and while I don't think that's reason enough to punt the 2012 season from Beckman's resume, I do believe it's a reason to consider giving Beckman a third season. Changing the identity of a team isn't something that you can do in such a short amount of time, and firing Beckman after the season could possibly force the program to start over once again.
And that's not a way to go about finding success.
Hopefully the team improves on the field this year and we don't even have to think about it.