After dismissing former head football coach Ron Zook in the wake of a disappointing season, Illinois has been completely focused on finding its next head coach. University of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has been interested in Wisconsin Badgers' Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst, but now Illinois is "zeroing in on" Toledo Rockets' head coach Tim Beckman, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune. Beckman will reportedly meet with the Illini on Thursday, and is meeting with his Toledo staff on Thursday morning as well.
Beckman is 21-16 in his three-year coaching tenure at Toledo, including an 8-4 record this season and a 14-2 record in the Mid-American Conference over the past two seasons. He is currently preparing his team for a 2011 Military Bowl matchup against the Air Force Falcons on Dec. 28.
It may not be a glamorous name to add to the mix, but Beckman might be a cheaper option than other candidates. Consider the following note from the Chicago Tribune:
According to USA Today's coaching salary database, Beckman makes only about $400,000. It's thought Illinois is willing to pay up to $2 million, but Beckman may not make that leap from his current salary.