Athlon sports looks at the coaching candidates to take over at Illinois, for the fired Ron Zook.
Tim Beckman, head coach, Toledo – Beckman is a rising star in the non-BCS ranks, leading Toledo to a 21-16 record over the last three seasons. The Rockets fell just short of winning the MAC West title this year, but have earned a bowl trip for the second season in a row. Beckman also has coaching stops as an assistant at Bowling Green, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.
Ron English, head coach, Eastern Michigan – Coaching in Ypsilanti at Eastern Michigan is arguably one of the toughest jobs in college football. English has made steady improvements, starting 2-22 through his first two years, but leading the Eagles to a 6-6 record in 2011. While six wins may not seem like much, before this season’s record, Eastern Michigan had only two seasons of at least six victories since 1988. English has Big Ten coaching experience, working under Lloyd Carr at Michigan from 2003-07. He may not be the flashiest name, but he’s a no-nonsense coach and someone who can get results at a bigger program.
Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Oklahoma – Venables is regarded as one of the top assistants in the nation. He does not have any head coaching experience, but has worked under two of the best in college football: Bill Snyder (Kansas State) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma). While Venables is likely to come up in this search, he could be more interested in the opening at Kansas.
Out of the candidates listed, I think these three are the best options. But, I'd respectfully like to add a candidate close to home, that they neglected to mention.