It's no surprise that Billy Gonzales has left Tim Beckman's football staff. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen announced Wednesday that his former Florida Gator colleague will be joining him in Starkville.
Rather, the surprise is that Gonzales didn't leave earlier.
A highly regarded recruiter, Gonzales was lured away from LSU a year ago to be an offensive coordinator. As it turned out, Gonzales wound up being Illinois' co-offensive coordinator, Chris Beatty.
But Beatty ended up being the senior co-coordinator in responsibility, and sources said Gonzales never settled into a comfortable role in Champaign. Beatty took the fall for Illinois' sluggish offense, and was dismissed by Beckman to make room for fired Western coach Michigan Bill Cubit, who looks like a very promising addition.
The hiring of Cubit, a veteran with a good track record of reviving ineffective offenses, left Gonzales even further from the coordinator role he coveted.
To make room for Gonzales and his recruiting upside, Mullen bumped his tight ends coach to coordinator of scouting, and moved receivers coach Tim Brewster to tight ends. Which was Brewster's position when the former Minnesota head coach was a star on Illinois' 1983 Rose Bowl team. Brewster also received an assistant head coach title.
``I've had the chance to work with Billy, and the opportunity to add him to our staff was one we couldn't pass up,'' Mullen said in a statement released Wednesday. ``His experience in developing receivers speaks for itself and he has consistently and relentlessly recruited top players at every stop of his career.''
The coaching-staff ball once again is in Beckman's court.
Only Tuesday, Beckman welcomed in Greg Colby as defensive line coach to replace respected Zook holdover Keith Gilmore, who left for North Carolina, where he'll be reunited with Vic Koenning and Dan Disch, who also were on Zook's Illinois staff.
A Danville native who was a three-year starter in both football and baseball in the early '70s at Illinois, Colby was an Illinois assistant from 1988 to 1995, when he worked with outside linebackers and special teams.
For the last five years, Colby has been head coach at Millersville (Pa.) University, a Division II school.