Today had been such a wonderfully nice day. The 2015 recruiting class was finalized and it turned out to be quite the humdinger. So you'd think this would make for a pretty easy afternoon's press conference, right?
#illini Beckman now challenging the media to be more positive. "How important is the University of Illinois to you?"— Jeremy Werner (@WernerESPNCU) February 4, 2015
I get it. I really do. The media (and I'm including us in that grouping) as a whole has not been particularly kind to Tim Beckman. It's completely understandable that he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. But here's the thing:
IT IS NOT THE JOB OF THE MEDIA TO SELL YOUR PROGRAM FOR YOU.
Beckman made a very bad first impression during his first year at Illinois. Shy of being caught of committing an actual crime, there wasn't much worse he could do. His press conferences were painful. He bungled the Penn State situation. His coaching hires almost all failed spectacularly. He dipped on the sideline when not tripping over refs. And the team finished 2-10, one year after a bowl game.
He's basically been digging out of that hole ever since. And that's not completely fair, but that's life. If you walk into your first day of work and knock over the desk causing coffee to spill on all your coworkers, they're probably going to take longer to warm up to you.
POSITIVITY HAS TO BE EARNED.
The general media is not a PR firm for the university. That would be awful and compromise the entire point of having external media. We aren't employed by the University of Illinois. Would I rather see Illinois succeed? Of course! But I'm not their hype man.
When there is something good or positive to write about, we write about it. When Becks killed it at Big Ten Media Days this summer, we gave him glowing praise. Go back and read what I wrote about the 2015 class this morning. The media is capable of positivity.
But when your conference record is 4-20 over three seasons, it's not going to be the default setting. Today was a perfect opportunity to help change the narrative about himself and the current state of the football program. All he had to do was give a standard Crash Davisian press conference about how happy he was to land all these fine young men. Call out the media for their negativity after a winning season. Today was not the right time for it.