Beckman blows it.

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 07/26/2012 7:30 PM
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Football
Beckman - Penn State Situation Leaves You Wondering
By John Porentas

Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman seemed just a little nervous when he took the podium at Big Ten Media days.

He wasn't fidgety, and he didn't stutter, but he seemed to be talking fast, like a guy who was trying to get straight in his mind what he was going to try to say and how he should say it.

Beckman didn't waste time getting to the point. Almost immediately he "confronted" the reports that he had sent upward of six coaches to Happy Valley to solicit Penn State roster members for Illinois. He confronted the issue because, as he put it, "I'm a proactive guy."

Sitting there, my first reaction was that this was going to be a really lame attempt to polish a turd.

Beckman was quick to point out that none of his coaches were actually on campus at Penn State.

"We did not go onto their campus," said Beckman. "We only talked to individuals that would be willing to meet with us. We did not go after them. They had the opportunity to come to us if they would like to come to us and speak to us. And that's how we handled the situation."

Right. That's like saying that a coach from Illinois standing on the east side of High Street in Columbus at 15th Avenue isn't on campus. Technically I suppose that's true. Maybe Beckman's guys were in local restaurant or hotel and not really on campus, which is a pretty lame distinction, but Beckman made things worse when later on when he explained what "not going after them" really meant.

"We were in State College, but we did not go on campus. We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals and if they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by."

We didn't go after them, we just called them? That's a line that's so fine that's it's really almost impossible to see it. It's like that time when you really didn't go after your roommate's girl friend, you just called her up to ask her if there was an off-chance she wanted to go out with you, but once again, lets give Beckman the benefit of the doubt that is getting harder to give him with each passing minute.

So where does that leave us? Illinois has half a dozen coaches adjacent to but not on campus. They are there on the off-chance that the Penn State players they happened to call might like to talk to them about a transfer. But wait, that would be an NCAA violation, because anyone wanting to recruit Penn State players has to inform Penn State's compliance department. Here's what Beckman had to say about that.

"We provided Penn State with the names of the people that -- prior to us even going there. Our compliance coordinator, Ryan Squire, and Mike Thomas, our athletic director gave him a list of people that -- so that they were aware of, before we got there, of who those individuals might be."

Forgive me, I'm getting slow in my old age. There must be some way to reconcile the fact that six Illini coaches were there adjacent to but not on campus on the off-chance that a Penn State roster member wanted to talk to them, but at the same time Illinois had provided Penn State a list of names of people they were going to talk to "prior to us even getting there".

Does that seem like a confusing paragraph to you? Me too. That's usually the result when somebody tries to concoct a story to justify something they did that is now biting them somewhere below their belt line and above the back of their knees.

Beckman's rationalization was really disappointing. Had he just said, "Yeah, we went after those guys hard because that's what we felt was best for Illinois" there may have been some people who disagreed with the tactic, but that's as far as it would have gone. The actions were, after all, within NCAA rules and guidelines. He was just being, as he described himself, that "proactive guy" who was capitalizing on Penn State's situation for his new employer, the University of Illinois.

Instead, Beckman took it to another level, a lower one to be sure, when he tried to dance around the truth and make it sound like he didn't do what he actually did.

It was disappointing. You would think that people in the college football world would have learned from recent events that cover ups of any kind are almost always as bad or worse than the crime. (Please note the bold and italics "almost". Jerry Sandusky is an obvious exception).

At best, it was that lame attempt to polish a turd. At worst, it was more of the same old flim flam that has worked so long and so well in the world of college football.

Does this give you the same headache it gives me?

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