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How Tim Beckman Changed The Game Of Football

This is the story of how Illinois coach Tim Beckman changed the sport of football forever.


It was back in June 2013 that the future of football truly began. That was when news broke that Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was no longer enrolled at the school due to an academic violation. The news caught the college football world by surprise, but in his office in Champaign, Illinois, Tim Beckman began planning.

Beckman decided then and there that he would go after Golson because quarterbacks who lead their team to the national championship game as freshman just don't come along all that often. Though Golson wasn't the only target that Beckman had. He'd spent the prior weeks trying to lure Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt to Illinois.

A commitment he'd get from Lunt in early June 2013.

Still, even with Lunt in the fold, Beckman knew he needed one more quarterback on the roster. You just couldn't have enough talent. So he went to work on Golson, and eventually, in a surprise bigger than the original news that Golson was no longer at Notre Dame, Beckman convinced Golson to come to Illinois.

Then Beckman bided his time.

Neither Lunt or Golson were eligible to play in the 2013 season, and Beckman's Illini team went 4-8. In 2014, with Lunt eligible, the Illini had a much stronger season as the Illini had one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten, averaging 32.3 points per game. The Illini would finish the season 10-3, ending the campaign with a 41-24 win over Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.

But this was all just a precursor to history as well.

You see, after the success of the 2014 season, Illinois' offensive coordinator Bill Cubit was a hot coaching target. He would leave Illinois to become the head coach at Michigan State after Mark Dantonio was fired. A move which left Beckman looking for another offensive coordinator for his program.

An offensive coordinator Beckman no longer needed.

He spent his entire coaching career as a defensive coach, but for the last few years Beckman had been working on his own brand new offense. An offense that he could finally run with Everett Golson regaining eligibility in the 2015 season.

The Triple-Quarterback Offense.

Beckman's new offense found a way to have Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Everett Golson all on the field at the same time. Lunt was strictly a passing quarterback, but when he was combined in the offense with the dual-threats of Bailey and Golson, opposing defenses had no idea how to stop the Illini.

In that 2015 season the Illini would average 65 points and 950 yards of offense per game, en route to a Big Ten title and berth in the College Football Playoff. It was there that the Illini would easily take care of Stanford in a 77-14 curb-stomping to move on to the championship game.

In the title game the Illini would put an end to Alabama's four-year reign as national champions with a 63-3 victory. Afterward Nick Saban would retire because he claimed Beckman's Triple-Quarterback Offense was "ruining the game, and I don't want any part of it."

The national championship wasn't the only hardware the Illini brought back to Champaign. The school would win its first Heisman Trophy when Lunt, Golson and Bailey became the first three players to share the award, as each quarterback received a third of every first place vote from Heisman voters.

The Illini would go on to repeat as champions in 2016, setting more offensive records along the way, and all three Illini quarterbacks repeated as Heisman Trophy winners. The first three to do so since Ohio State running back Archie Griffin.

Sadly, that's when the greatest stretch of football in Illinois history would come to an end. After replacing Nick Saban for the 2016 season, Bobby Petrino's Alabama team stumbled to a 4-8 record and he was dismissed. Alabama then came calling for Tim Beckman, offering him $100 million to take over the program.

Beckman would take the job, but unfortunately for him the folks at Alabama found his offense to be an affront to God -- God being Bear Bryant -- and forced him to run a boring pro-style offense. Beckman's teams at Alabama weren't nearly as successful as those he had at Illinois, and he'd be fired after three seasons with a record of 24-15.

He would then return to Illinois, but never find himself able to rekindle the magic of West Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Everett Golson. He'd still retire years later as the winningest coach in Illinois football history, but he'd never again win a national title.

As for the three quarterbacks, all three would go on to the NFL and for the next 15 years a team quarterbacked by one of the three would win the Super Bowl. They'd all be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Triple-Quarterback offense would take over football on both the college and professional levels, revolutionizing the game and making it more popular than ever.

And it was all thanks to Tim Beckman. The man who changed football.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.