"Erasing the stigma left by Beckman might not be as hard as rebranding Illinois as an attractive place where a coach can win."
Shannon Ryan hit it right on the head in her latest column on the Illini. Before Illinois can even consider hiring a new football coach, a lot of things need to change in Champaign. For starters, the school needs to establish that it's secure destination for prospective candidates.
That isn't the case right now. School administrators are facing pressure to resign, the university chancellor already has resigned, and the athletic director is on the hot seat thanks to several sports-related lawsuits. I mean, what up-and-coming coach in their right mind would want to enter this toxic situation?
Things to need change across the board at Illinois, and they need to start changing fast. All we can do is hope that it happens by the time the coaching search actually gets underway.
"We're really excited. We're playing a Kent State team, one where I wouldn't just look at the record, but I look at how they played their games rather than the end result. Outside of the Ohio State game, [Kent State] averaged about 12 points per deficit. I don't think they ever lost a MAC game by more than 10."
Could the Illini have their work cut out for them? Tough to say, but the good news is that things seem to be transitioning well under interim head coach Bill Cubit. We really can't even begin to imagine how tough this whole process has been on the players, but according to Cubit, everyone is doing their best to get prepared and adjusted to the system.
"On Friday we had a really great practice; the kids were very enthusiastic. We came out there on Saturday and had another good day. We changed some things, not things right or wrong, just things I'm used to, but I thought it was a good practice," noted Cubit.
While football season rears its, dare I say ugly, head around the corner, the Fighting Illini seem to be moving in the right direction after hitting rock bottom just last week.
"Illinois should beat Kent State at home, but who knows what to expect after the school shockingly fired Tim Beckman a week before the season."
Thanks to Buckeyes' efforts in the first-ever College Football Playoff, the Big Ten is riding a huge wave of momentum into the 2015 season. But the league still has a lot to prove. With matchups against Alabama (Wisconsin), TCU (Minnesota), Utah (Michigan), Stanford (Northwestern), BYU (Nebraska), and Virginia Tech (Ohio State), Week 1 will provide the conference another prime opportunity to silence critics.
Illinois should be able to take care of business and beat Kent State, but it remains to be seen how exactly the coaching change will impact the team's on-field performance. For the Big Ten's sake, hopefully it doesn't matter too much.