"We’re focused right now on the 2015 football team. We took off last year after a great end of the year, and we’ve been focused since January on becoming a better football program."
- Tim Beckman (Media Day Press Conference), ESPN
On Thursday, Tim Beckman publicly addressed media members for the first time since the football program was first accused of player mistreatment by former offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic. The fourth year head coach was peppered with questions throughout the day, but he was able to dodge them with ease. The Illinois public relations team did a great job of getting Beckman ready and it was obvious that he took his preparation seriously.
Of course, the press conference didn't go without incident as Beckman struggled to explain the team's 'OSKEE' acronym during his opening statement. But that's OK. Compared to some of his other media outings, yesterday was one of the best he's had at Illinois.
"I truly believe we wear integrity on our sleeves. That’s the foundation of our program. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to hear it, because they think we’re diverting from these other issues — we got a lot of great things going on."
- Mike Thomas via Chris Emma, CBS Chicago
Mike Thomas was a member of the Illinois contingent in Chicago and he addressed the media as well. Like Beckman, he deflected the attention away from football and women's basketball by highlighting the success of some of the other programs.
Although he did go on to state that he doesn't know the timeline of the ongoing independent investigation by Pugh, Jones and Johnson law firm. It's possible that Thomas does have a timeframe, but if we're taking that at face value it's completely insane. This law firm is being paid millions of dollars by the University--they should be giving the athletic department updates every damn hour.
"The Abrams loss is a disheartening blow to an Illini team that was already ranked below at least seven others in the conference."
- Loren Tate, Jacksonville Journal Courier
Illinois football is bad, but Big Ten Media Days have been a welcome break from the constant onslaught of bad news concerning the basketball program. The loss of Tracy Abrams really can't be overstated right now because John Groce's team is down to just one true point guard on the roster. Even if Jaylon Tate improves, someone else will still need to step up because he can't/won't play 40 minutes per game.
Similarly to our piece yesterday, Loren Tate laid out a few of the teams options. Hopefully one of Jalen Coleman-Lands, Kendrick Nunn, Aaron Jordan, or D.J. Williams is able to make the transition.
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