Summer Conversations: Tim Beckman (Part II) June 15, 2012
The second half of my conversation with Tim Beckman, which marks the end of this summer series. And it isn’t even summer yet.
Who is the best recruiter you’ve ever been around?
I don’t know if there’s just one guy. Coach (Jim) Tressel did an outstanding job in certain areas. Coach (Urban) Meyer, he does a great job. And Coach (Mike) Gundy. If you look at a program, recruiting-wise, that has gone from where we are to the top-5, it’s Oklahoma State.
And it’s not always about just recruiting, it’s about the evaluation. If I had to say who I learned how to evaluate players from, it’s my father. He was a player personnel guy in the NFL.
Is he the one you learned to watch film from?
No question. That’s what he did. That’s what he was involved with when I was in my high school years – that’s when he got involved with player personnel in the NFL, and that’s when I got involved with that. So got to learn by going to combines. I got to go to the Senior Bowl. All of those things.
What about coaching? Tactical, schemes, who did you learn from?
I’ve been asked that question more than the recruiting question. And I don’t say it’s any one coach. I’ve learned something from each coach I’ve been under. Just think of the coaches I’ve been blessed with working under. Urban Meyer is a heck of a competitive guy. Jim Tressel is so organized. Mike Gundy is a player’s coach. So all of them have shaped my philosophies.
OK, an off the wall question. How important will Keith Gilmore’s ball-on-a-stick be to the future success of this football program? He carries that thing wherever he goes, and he’s put a lot of linemen in the first round with it, so how important is ball-on-a-stick in your program?
(laughing) Hey, as long as they come off the football, that’s what I care about.
On the snap and not the sound?
Yes. And it’s proven now. We’ve had outstanding defensive linemen here. Like I say all the time, every coach at our school is the GM for his position. So you need to identify and recruit players for your position. Well, I think Keith Gilmore has done a pretty good job recruiting and developing.
Alright, I’m going to read you a statistic. And I’m a bit obsessed with this statistic. Last 15 non-conference FBS opponents for Illinois: 123-57, for a .683 winning percentage. Northwestern’s last 15 non-conference FBS opponents are 47-133 for a .261 winning percentage. Illinois has had the most difficult non-conference schedule in the nation the over last five years. To me, it’s always seemed strange that we’re trying to build something here, but we’re playing an Ohio State-like non-conference schedule. What is your philosophy on scheduling? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to play a non-conference schedule where the opponents are 123-57 while you’re trying to build something. Or, maybe, you’re interested in testing your team before the conference schedule.
I’d be interested to see what are opponents were at Toledo the last three years. Because last year, our non-conference opponents were Ohio State, Syracuse, and Boise State.
I think you want to make sure that you have a competitive non-conference schedule. You know, sometimes, you plan these games so far in advance that you schedule them when they’re down here, but look where they are when you play them. So yes, you want it to be competitive, but you also want to be successful.
Last year was probably the hardest schedule that I’ve ever been through. We lost to Ohio State, and we had a chance to win at the end, we lost to Boise State where we played pretty good, and then we go play Syracuse where we really won the football game (ed. note: Toledo lost to Syracuse in overtime. But replays showed that Syracuse’s extra point with 2:07 remaining was wide. The Big East issued the worst kind of apology, admitting that the kick was no good and blaming the replay official for reviewing the wrong angle.) And then the next week we had to go to Temple, who had just beaten Maryland. That was on the road in the Eagles stadium. So we really had to keep our focus. A gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State, the Syracuse situation… and then we really got after Temple. (a 36-13 win)
So do you like this schedule? At Arizona State, plus Western Michigan and Louisiana Tech.
Western Michigan is a good football team. La. Tech is proven. It’s very competitive, so we’ll have to play our A game. We’ll really have to be prepared for those first four football games, and then be prepared for Penn State.
Last question. Wisconsin is known for their offensive lines. Alvarez built it, Bielema has continued it – when you think of Wisconsin football, you think of their offensive lines. At Ohio State, it was Tresselball – we’re going to play conservative, you’re not going to move on our defense, and we’re going to wear you down. Do you have something that you want to build this program around?
I want it to be our competitive nature. Everyone knowing that we’ll compete for four quarters. We’re going to compete in everything we do all year, and we’re going to compete in four quarters on the football field.
You know, I saw on Twitter that Evan Wilson was bragging about beating his mom in Connect Four, so…
(laughing) Alright! Competitive.
I think it’s a second nature that you can build. We can compete against ourselves, because we do that academically; we compete against our teammates in practice, and that makes us better, that makes practices better, and that makes me a better coach; and then we’ll compete on Saturdays – that’s what this game is all about. That’s why we do it.