OT: Illinois coaching candidates

Submitted by MGoCooper on December 1st, 2011 at 12:39 PM



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.




December 1st, 2011 at 12:43 PM ^

EMU must truly be a terribly difficult program to win at; English has yet to have a winning season there and is being considered for all manner of jobs from ASU to Illinois.

Good luck to him!

Six Zero

December 1st, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

Judging by your title, are you telling me that TRUNG CANIDATE is going to be the next HC for the Illini???

Sorry, I try not to be a grammar nazi but also find myself unable to resist the urge to reference any Auburn running back with the first name TRUNG.  Seriously.


December 1st, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

I would think Chryst and Narduzzi would be somewhere on the list. And, in fact, this would even be a step up for someone like Charlie Strong. Illinois has a much stronger history in football than Louisville and way more money. Strong also might want to extricate himself from the sinking Big East before it truly has morphed into CUSA 2.0. If I were the Illini (or any of the schools with job openings in the South or Midwest), Charlie Strong would be on my very short list.


December 1st, 2011 at 1:18 PM ^

that Narduzzi is a name definitely in the mix.  Their focus of attention is Butch Jones, however, because of the AD's Cincinnati connection.

If it's Narduzzi, there would be room for hatred of the Illini in my heart, something I never came close to before.


December 1st, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^

God please let it be Ron English.  I would love to beat the shit out of the guy most responsible for the 2006 loss to OSU and the loss to Appalachian State on a regular basis. 


December 1st, 2011 at 2:31 PM ^

He definitely deserves blame for the team not being prepared for Appy State, sure. But I put English's schemes down the list for the reasons the defense failed against OSU in 2006. I'd put it something like this...

1. Troy Smith's great day

2. Jamar Adams's injury early on (I think it was Adams), forcing us to play Barringer in the base defense, eliminating the nickle lineup we'd used all year. 

3. The failure to have three competent cornerbacks on the roster, forcing English into a choice between Johnny Sears or Chris Graham to cover the slot. Both choices were wrong. Blame Justin King, Jai Eugene, Les Miles, English for failing to develop someone fast enough. But we were crippled against a spread passing attack because only  Hall and Trent could cover for longer than 1.5 seconds.

4. The field for slowing the pass rush for longer than 1.5 seconds.

5. Schemes that left the middle of the field wide open for big plays.


December 1st, 2011 at 1:23 PM ^

With Rodriguez AND Meyer now gainfully employed as coaches again, my ability to speculate has become somewhat hampered, but of all three, I would have to say that Beckman might be the most likely (and I am sure other names will come up soon enough, of course).

I don't know if English is quite there yet when it comes to his resume and experience (I feel as if he needs to take EMU to a step or two above 6-6 first), and I think Venables would rather stay close to where he is. Beckman is a midwest guy for the most part and has managed to get Toledo competing well in its own conference, at the very least. I thought about English for a moment, but Beckman is a couple steps ahead of him in developing a team. Granted, look at the team English inherited - when EMU is competing for something in the MAC, I have little doubt he'll get serious consideration for bigger jobs.


December 1st, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

I have meet beckman and he's a classy guy. I really hope he doesn't leave Toledo any time soon. Toledo fans have been waiting for success ever since the scooter mcdougal crap came out. On top of it all this man can recruit and can coach. He has had 3 4* with bcs offers commit to Toledo in the last 3 years. Honestly I can't think of another Mac school that has landed that high of a recruit. He also gets high quality transfers. Vlad emilien, the Hayden brothers, and a big wr from Illinois ( name is slipping my mind). He also seems to identify talent young. Every time you see a Michigan offer going out, it's usually one of the first right next to Toledo. When this man gets a big gig I hope it's no where near here.


December 1st, 2011 at 2:00 PM ^

I get that Kansas is closer to Venebles' Okie base. But Illinois is easily the better job. It's on the cusp of Big 12 country. And while both schools are overshadowed by regional powers, far more home-grown talent comes out of Illinois than Kansas. The Illini have a decent fan-base and roster; Kansas has neither. Plus, does Venebles really want a scenario in which his former team, OU, routinely thrashes him?

Then again: He's one of the worst negative-recruiters, so let him get bitch-slapped.



December 1st, 2011 at 2:14 PM ^

If English fails miserably I can point at laugh at all the morons who conveniently forget his defenses' multiple, consecutive, shit the bed moments. If he succeeds, then maybe they knock off Ohio State a few times.


December 1st, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

Ferentz has either the 5th or 6th highest (depending on source) salary for college football coaches.



I'm guessing that Illinois, and other mid level schools, have realized that they aren't going to be able to pony up the cash to pry him away from Iowa.



December 1st, 2011 at 2:52 PM ^

As I said yesterday in the MAC Coach of the Year thread, I think English has the potential to be a coach at a bigger program, but he might want to build up his resume first. He's in a comfortable place where he's shown good improvement. There's no need to jump into a bigger head coaching job just because it's there. If he fails, it's damaging to his reputation. I'm sure his goal to coach a big time program for a long time, so what I'm saying is that he should make sure he can stick.

Going to the PAC might be a better decision if he can build a defense that can stand up to some of the higher powered offenses. I feel like Illinois has to compete with too many other strong programs to win championships. As far as I'm concerned, after this year, it'll be USC and Oregon as the two established PAC programs and the rest are up for grabs. We'll see though. It's hard to pass up a big job offer.


December 1st, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

He's at a shitty program with a very low ceiling.  He could do everything right at EMU and still put up 3-4-5 win seasons in the near future and lose some of his luster.  You're also never going to go from EMU to a super elite job.  If you get a shot at a bigger job at a middle of the pack BCS school I think you have to take it.

Just imagine if Hoke had stayed at Ball State and they win just a handful of games the year after Nate Davis graduates (as was the case).