Illini closing in on Beckman, from Toledo
Rejected by Houston's Kevin Sumlin, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas is closing in on Toledo coach Tim Beckman, a defense-oriented coach who has worked for Mike Gundy, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, multiple sources said Thursday morning.
Beckman is in his third year at Toledo, which was 8-4 this year, including losses to Ohio State, Boise State, a wild 63-60 loss to Northern Illinois and a controversial 33-30 overtime loss at Syracuse.
Beckman, 46, fits Thomas' leanings toward hiring someone with head-coaching experience and looking to his Mid-American Conference roots. The MAC has been a fertile league lately, spawning Meyer, Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, among others.
Toledo, which will play Air Force in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28, was 8-5 last year and 5-7 in 2009, Beckman's first season as the Rockets coach.
Beckman was Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator in 2007-08 and cornerbacks coach at Ohio State in 2005-06. He was defensive coordinator at Bowling Green in 1998-2004.
Many Illini boosters were enthusiastic about Sumlin because of his dynamic Houston offenses and because Illinois and Purdue are the only Big Ten schools that have not had a black head coach in football or men's basketball.
Beyond Sumlin, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones reportedly turned down the Illinois job. And a source said others also were said no.
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