Take it from me, somebody who does this kind of thing for a living, that just about any list that a writer or blogger comes up with is stupid. Particularly when it's a list related to college football during the summer, because they're really nothing more than "shit, I have to get something written and absolutely nothing is going on worth writing about."
They're filler. They serve their purpose, but they don't actually mean anything.
So I wouldn't take Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel including Tim Beckman on his list of the five worst coaches in college football all that seriously. Mandel includes Beckman with Kirk Ferentz, Lane Kiffin, Charlie Weis and Ron English.
Here's what he had to say about Beckman.
I may be jumping the gun here, but Beckman -- hired at Illinois following a pair of eight-win seasons at Toledo -- has done little to inspire confidence either on the field (2-10 in 2012) or on the recruiting trail with the Illini.
I don't think you might be jumping the gun, Stew, I know you are.
Trust me, after the 2012 season, I get why you'd put Tim Beckman on this list. In fact, I'm guessing that you came up with your other four coaches and were stuck trying to figure out who your fifth coach was and you just thought to yourself "well Illinois was terrible last year, so I'll go with Beckman."
It makes sense, it really does. But it's not right. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Tim Beckman is a great football coach. The truth is I don't know yet. Nobody really does. All we know is that 2012 was a terrible start, but as I've said on this blog many times in the past, the entirety of the 2012 season cannot be pinned on Tim Beckman. Sure, the chewing tobacco on the sideline and tripping on the sidelines during the Northwestern game make him an easy target, but as for what happened on the field, only some of that blame lies at his feet.
You can't blame Tim Beckman for the injuries. You can't blame Tim Beckman for the lack of depth on a roster he had no hand in putting together. You can blame him a bit for the coaching decisions on the sideline, though, and Beckman seemingly -- hopefully -- corrected those problems with changes on the staff this offseason.
But you should not just look at Beckman's two eight-win seasons at Toledo and dismiss them outright as Mandel did in that blurb.
Toledo went three straight seasons without a winning record before Beckman took over, and following a 5-7 mark in his first year he put together those eight-win seasons, including a 14-2 mark in the MAC Conference. He also left Toledo in pretty good shape as the Rockets went 9-4 last season, though they dropped off a game in conference play going 6-2.
So he took over a program that was going through a rough patch, fixed it up and left it in a lot better shape than it was when he got there. Which is exactly what Illinois fans are hoping he does in Champaign. Will he? Hell, I don't know, but I tend to think Illinois fans have more confidence in his first recruiting class than Mandel does, though.
I know I'm excited about guys like Aaron Bailey, Caleb Day and Paul James among others.
Last season was a hard one to deal with, no Illinois football fan will tell you any different. But calling a coach one of the five worst in the country after one bad season following a couple of really good seasons just seems idiotic to me. Mandel may be proven right in the long run, but at the moment he's just wrong.
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