Toledo head coach Tim Beckman has been a popular named tossed around as a possible replacement for Ron Zook at Illinois.
Currently, Beckman's Toledo Rockets are 8-4 and headed to a bowl game for a second consecutive season.
Beckman's experience with football began as a player at Forest Park High School in Beaumont, Texas. He finished his final two high school years at Berea High School in Berea, Ohio.He then began his collegiate football career at Kentucky, later choosing a transfer to Findlay, where he lettered in 1984 and 1985 on two teams that qualified for the NAIA playoffs. He graduated from Findley in 1985 with a degree in Physical Education.
Beckman began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn, where he also earned his master's degree in education. He then moved on to his first full-time job at Western Carolina from 1990-1995, where he served at secondary coach and recruiting coordinator. Then, from 1995-1996, Beckman played a role as defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Elon College.
Things really started to take off for Beckman after that. From 1998-2004, Beckman took over as defensive coordinator at Bowling Green. He also had the luxury of coaching alongside Ohio State's new head coach Urban Meyer.During his years there, he was a three-time nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach--which included being named one of five finalist in 2001. Also, College Football News named him one of the country's top defensive coordinators. Throughout his seven years with Bowling Green, the Falcons won two bowl games, a MAC division title and finished ranked in the national poles three times.
Beckman then became cornerbacks coach at Ohio State from 2005-2006. In 2005, Beckman helped coach a defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing defense and fifth in total defense. In 2006, Ohio State ranked No. 12 nationally in total defense (280.5 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (12.8 ppg).
During Beckman's two years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes went 22-3 and made an appearance in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and 2007 National Championship. He was also responsible for coaching six All-Big Ten defensive backs, including Antonio Smith, who was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.
After a loss in the 2007 National Championship against Florida, Beckman became defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2007-2008. The Cowboys posted a record of 16-10 during this period, including a 9-4 record in 2008, where Oklahoma State ranked as high as No. 7 in the AP Poll. In four of the Cowboys's victories, the defense held its opponent under 14 points.
Beckman finally got a much deserved head coaching offer at the age of 46 from the Toledo Rockets, inheriting a team that finished 3-9 in 2008. In his first season with Toledo, Beckman helped guide the Rockets to a 5-7 record, even after the loss of four-year staring quarterback Aaron Opelt due to injury.
Things continued to go uphill for the Toledo program in 2010 under the guidance of Beckman. After losing several key seniors, many did not expect Toledo to make much noise. However, the Rockets went on to win eight games (8-5), finished second in the MAC West, and gave the university it's first winning season and bowl berth since 2005.
Once again in 2011, Beckman and Toledo continued its winning ways, thanks to two straight recruiting classes ranked #1 in the MAC by Scout.com. The Rockets finished the regular season at 8-4, guaranteeing a second straight bowl game. They also finished tied for first in the MAC West.
WHY HE WOULD BE A GOOD IT AT ILLINOIS: Beckman can recruit, as shown by his experience as recruiting coordinator and highly ranked classes at Toledo. Also, he has prior head coaching experience. It must also be noted that Beckman has been a part of some top-notch programs and has done well while there. And many former players have commented on his great personality, a quality that players and staff members always adore.
WHY HE MAY NOT BE A GOOD FIT AT ILLINOIS: Just like many of the other possible candidates for the job, there is a concern as to how Beckman would hold up in the rugged Big Ten, a big step-up from the MAC. It has also been said that Beckman sometimes makes head-scratching decisions, something former Illini coach Ron Zook was often heckled for.