COACHING SEARCH: Tim Berkman

While he may not be the big name some Memphis fans are clamoring for, Tim Beckman has landed on the radar of a handful schools for turning around a wayward Toledo program in just three years.

While he may not be the big name some Memphis fans are clamoring for, Tim Beckman has landed on the radar of a handful schools for turning around a wayward Toledo program in just three years.

Illinois' list is the latest Beckman, who will lead his 8-4 Rockets into a bowl game for the second straight year, has found his name on. His name has also been mentioned for the opening at Tulane.

Beckman became the head coach at Toledo three years ago to the day, inheriting a program that went from being a perennial Mid-Atlantic Conference contender as recently as 2005 to 3-9 in 2008. A Berea, Ohio native, Beckman won five games in his first season and won eight his second, earning the Rockets a berth in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. Toledo lost 34-32 to Sun Belt champs Florida International in their first bowl game in four seasons.

Beckman has also delivered the top-rated recruiting class in the MAC each of the last two years.

Now 46, Beckman arrived at Toledo after spending two seasons as Mike Gundy's defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. Before that, he coached cornerbacks under Jim Tressel at Ohio State in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, the latter a 12-win, BCS Championship Game season. The Buckeyes lost the title game to Florida, which was coached by Urban Meyer, another of Beckman's mentors.

Beckman served as defensive coordinator in Meyer's two seasons at Bowling Green. In total Beckman, who's had stops at Elon and Western Carolina and was a graduate assistant at Auburn, has 24 years of collegiate coaching experience. NFL players Beckman has coached include Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Stephen Williams and San Francisco safety Donte Whitner.

Beckman, 21-16 as a head coach, has proven he can resuscitate a struggling mid-level program. Though he may view Memphis as a lateral move, if the U of M can lure him to the Bluff City, Beckman's brief history as a head coach suggests he can turn Tiger football into a winner fairly quickly.

Why Beckman makes sense: He's taken a Toledo program that fell apart under its previous coach and returned it to winning ways in just three years. And he did so in a conference heavy on skill players at a school that sits in the shadows of two in-state BCS schools. At a superficial glance, Memphis and Toledo don't seem so different.

Why Beckman won't work: Memphis might not be able to draw him out of the Midwest – at least without grossly overpaying him. He's had success in his young head-coaching career, but by no means is he proven, either. And odds are Illinois and other suitors will continue calling, too.


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