Tim Beckman was retained this past season, seemingly for finishing the year with a win against a Northwestern team that was basically playing a bunch of backups. He followed up that news with an embarrassing loss to Louisiana Tech in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, but after a decent recruiting class, Beckman seems to think things are looking up in recruiting.
This year's Illini class is average at best and still behind Northwestern in average rating — NU has an 247 average rating of 84.03, good for 9th in the Big Ten, while the Illini's class rates at 83.50, good for 10th in the conference — but it's still by far the best class of the Beckman era.
Beckman has bragged about recruiting players from Illinois and the Chicago area in the past, and last year, he seemingly took a shot at Northwestern when bragging about his class, saying that he got more players from Chicago than NU. That was technically true, but also ignored the fact that NU didn't want any of the players that Illinois got:
- 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.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at how Illinois and Northwestern did head-to-head against each other in recruiting this year. And once again, it was no contest.
Of the players both schools wanted, five committed to Northwestern, while none committed to Illinois.
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Maybe Illinois will keep getting better, and maybe the Illini will keep moving up the recruiting rankings. But to do that, they will have to continue with the strategy of getting JUCO recruits who likely could not get into Northwestern. (The academic structure, including the quarter system and academic requirements at NU, makes it nearly impossible to get JUCO players, even though Beckman thinks his academic restrictions are tough).
Northwestern has a lot to fix on the field, and the Wildcats could take a recruiting hit due to the on-field struggles. But right now, it's clear that in recruiting between the Big Ten's two Illinois schools, the Illini are little brother.