Report: Illinois' Beckman to return in 2014

Tim Beckman basically ensured he would return to Illinois for a third season when the Illini ended a 19-game Big Ten losing streak Nov. 23 at Purdue.

Now it's official: Beckman will be back, athletic director Mike Thomas told WCIA-TV's Matt Wettersten on Monday. Beckman is just 1-15 in Big Ten play and 6-18 overall at Illinois, but he has three years left on his contract and Illinois has had to pay buyouts to Beckman's predecessor Ron Zook as well as basketball coaches Bruce Weber and Jolette Law.

"I'm confident that Tim can get us to where we want to go," Thomas told WCIA.

The Illini doubled their victory total from two to four in Beckman's second season and made significant strides on offense under new coordinator Bill Cubit, rising from 119th nationally to 52nd. The defense backslid this fall, ranking 110th in yards allowed and 116th against the run.

Beckman's staff went through a significant overhaul after the 2012 season, as he hired five new assistants. More changes likely are on the way, especially on defense, as Illinois must improve a young unit next fall.

There was talk of dumping Beckman after his first year on the job, and that chatter isn't going away until he shows significant progress. But every coach deserves three years to get things on track, especially at a program that has struggled for consistency.

Beckman will get that chance in 2014, a pivotal year for himself and the Illini.