Nearly a year ago today, Illinois found the results of an outside review into Tim Beckman’s football program so compelling that it fired him, just days before the season was to begin and before the full review was even complete. The final review found Beckman guilty of pulling off an overwrought impression of an Oliver Stone character: pressuring concussed players to play, threatening to yank his players’ scholarships for missing time, saying he “doesn’t believe” in hamstring injuries.
And now he’s back in the game, not even a full year later.
North Carolina welcomed Beckman as a volunteer assistant, and Heels head coach Larry Fedora defended the move on Wednesday.
“I don’t believe everything I read, all right,” Fedora said, via the Raleigh News & Observer. “I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn’t have been, obviously I wouldn’t have brought him. I wouldn’t have allowed him to be in our program.
“But I was very comfortable with it. I don’t have any issues with it at all.”
Fedora, who managed to come within eight points of an ACC championship without Beckman by his side last season, argued that Beckman’s value outweighed the negative publicity that comes with this move.
“And I know (criticism is) going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won’t be news,” Fedora said. “I mean, I promise you, I didn’t see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know?
“I mean, the guy didn’t win enough games. That’s all it was.”
According to the law firm hired by Illinois to review the Illini football program, Beckman “attempted to instill a belief system in players to… return too quickly from injuries to benefit the team by pressuring or influencing players to not report injuries” and “criticized players who sought medical treatment or were not playing because of injury with demeaning comments and other communication tactics.”
To bring a guy back so quickly from allegations that harsh — when player safety is the No. 1 issue facing the sport right now, and there’s not a close second — well, it says Art Briles may be more spot on than anyone realizes when he says with confidence that he, too, will coach again soon.