Every time I talk about the Northwestern-Illinois rivalry, I point out that it is a poor excuse for a rivalry. I hold little ill will towards Illinois as a school, or its sports teams really. But it is the closest thing we have to a "rivalry," since we're both in the same state.
But as long as Tim Beckman is Illinois' head coach, I will have no problem belly-laughing about things Illinois does, especially when he talks about Northwestern.
Signing Day press conferences are a moment for coaches to pretend everything is good in the world. Your class is really talented, you filled the holes you needed, the guys you got are high-caliber guys, and you're proud of XXXX School football. It's not really a day for potshots.Unless you're Tim Beckman:
"We signed four football players out of the ‘state' of Chicago, as we call it. And that is more than the actual team that is in Chicago signed," Beckman said. "So we're proud, and we want this state to understand that we're proud of the high school football in this state."
a) Chicago is a state? I'm so geographically confused by the rhetoric of Northwestern and Illinois' athletic departments. Is Northwestern the State of Chicago's Big Ten Team? When Illinois says "Our State, Our Team," what state is that? Does it include Chicago?
b) Thank you, Tim Beckman, for making "beating Northwestern at recruiting" seem like an accomplishment rather than something other schools simply do. Of course, Illinois did not actually beat Northwestern at recruiting, which makes this much, much funnier.
c) It's true, Illinois landed four Chicago-area players as opposed to Northwestern's three. This is an enormous win. It is not at all proportional to Northwestern only having 15 spots available while Illinois was able to get 19 players.
In actuality, Northwestern kicked Illinois' ass in recruiting. The Wildcats offered scholarships to eight players from Illinois, including the top-rated QB, Clayton Thorson, and the top-rated RB, Justin Jackson. Illinois offered scholarships to 30 players from Illinois, also including Thorson and Jackson. Northwestern got four commitments out of eight offers, including Thorson and Jackson, as well as Illinois target Blake Hance. Illinois got five commitments out of 30 offers. None of those five had been offered by Northwestern.
- Northwestern hit .500 on players from Illinois
- Illinois hit .167 on players from Illinois
- Among players with offers from both schools that picked either Northwestern or Illinois, all three picked Northwestern
- Northwestern took three of the top 10 players from Illinois.
- Illinois only got one of the top 25 players from Illinois, per 247's composite, and that was No. 25.
This is a beating.
There are very few sports figures who make me happier than Tim Beckman. In two years, his team has won one Big Ten game, and it came against an 0-8 team. His team is the sole reason Northwestern did not lose every conference game this year. Bad results are acceptable for a new coach if they're bringing in quality talent, but in this, Beckman's third recruiting season, Illinois finished 13th out of the 14 teams in the Big Ten.
And despite all that, he's taking potshots at Northwestern.
Thanks, Tim. Being a Northwestern fan is rarely fun. But when everything goes wrong, we still have Tim Beckman to laugh at. He makes it seem like we're the big brother, and I hope Illinois employs him forever.
PREVIOUSLY, IN TIM BECKMAN LOLLERSKATES: