I probably wouldn’t have written anything about Tim Beckman’s dismissal, and certainly not something insulting, if Tim Beckman had gone quietly. Instead, he issued a statement threatening “I will vigorously defend both my reputation and my legal rights.”
Thus, I feel obliged to examine Beckman’s reputation and legal rights.
Beckman’s reputation among football coaches, at the high school and college level, is not known to me, with one exception. I got this in an email from a friend who worked in the MAC during Beckman’s tenure at Toledo:
When he was hired (by Illinois) and I was still at (a MAC competitor), the football crew there was telling me what an unsavory lad he was. They knew his staff well, and talked about how none of them wanted to go to the big bad B1G to work with him.
My friend now works in a different conference out east, but preferred that I use this quote without attribution.
In the larger community, observable in online fora and reputable media outlets, Beckman’s reputation is bad. It’s not a reputation he should seek to burnish. At best he’s viewed as mediocre. From there it’s downhill.
Bumbling, incompetent, buffoonish.
One fan expressed his frustration in a classic work of graphic design:
When Beckman’s mentioned, it’s usually a gaffe that gets attention. A Boolean search for [“Tim Beckman” + embarrassing] renders immediate fodder. [“Tim Beckman” + respected] produces inconclusive results.
Did, or indeed could Beckman’s firing further tarnish his reputation? Beckman was fired for cause, which arguably bolsters his reputation. It makes him seem sinister, rather than incompetent.
What about his “legal rights?”
It’s clear that the University’s position, beginning with the initial announcement of Beckman’s dismissal, is that Beckman was in material breach of his employment contract. That document is 23 pages long, but the relevant passages are sections 2.3.b and 4.2
To recover monetary damages, Tim Beckman would have to prove that he never acted in a manner threatening to the health and well-being of student-athletes. That seems unlikely, given the testimony already on record against him.
It’s hard to overstate the negatives. Listening to Beckman was discomforting, even painful. The only thing I ever wrote about the man was that he’s not as stupid as he seems.
After that, I just stopped writing about football. It was too depressing.
And now, that’s all changed. Bill Cubit: A Love Story is an ongoing narrative that began the day Cubit arrived in Champaign. He’s regarded as an offensive guru, and labels himself a football junkie. The media adore him because he’s honest, candid, forthcoming.
A couple of years ago I fell into the habit of recording everything Bill Cubit had to say, even though that meant ignoring the other coaches and players. I called it “The Complete Cubit.” There are a few of them.
I’d like to add that I feel good about Tim Banks for the same reasons. He’s candid, too. But I couldn’t pull the camera away from Cubit. He’s just that good.
Last Friday Cubit told assembled media “believe it or not, I love you guys!” and “I love being around you guys.”
I do believe it, because he’s always treated us that way.
It’s such a relief to write a positive thing about Illini Football and its coach. Whether you like it, hate it, or ignore it; football is important to the local economy. Maybe Cubit won’t be named permanent successor, but for now, Illini Football is in competent hands.
I hope Tim Beckman will go quietly. Surely he can find a job in football, at some level. He’ll never attain a head coaching job as good as Illinois, and he shouldn’t. There’s more than just X’s & O’s to being the state’s highest paid employee.