Illinois is on the rise…at least that’s what making a bowl game will tell you. However, a 6-7 season would suggest there are still plenty of things to work on. That has led to much speculation over changes coming to the Illini staff.
The speculation can end as of Thursday afternoon, as head coach Tim Beckman announced he was letting assistant coaches Tim Salem and Greg Colby go.
“This is the toughest thing you have to do as a head coach,” Beckman said in a release by the athletic department. “Both Tim and Greg are very good coaches, but I felt we needed to make these changes to help our football program move forward. I want to thank Tim and Greg, along with their outstanding families, for all they did during their time as part of the Fighting Illini football family. I wish both of them the best of luck in their next career step. We’ll move forward with replacing them on the staff as soon as possible.”
Salem was the special teams coordinator in 2014, an interesting move considering the Illini were third in the Big Ten in punting. However the team wasn’t great in any other aspect of the special teams game. Illinois ranked last in field goal percentage and were next to last in kick returns.
Colby was the defensive line coach the last two years under Beckman, but that group has failed to really develop much at all. The Illini finished 11th in sacks this past season and were near the bottom in rushing defense.
While some change was needed, it may not be enough for some in the fanbase, as Illinois continues to stick by Tim Banks as defensive coordinator.
Banks has a job despite his defenses ranking 14th, 10th and 11th in scoring defense each of the last three years and 14th, 11th and 10th in total defense in that same time frame.
It’s a wonder more heads didn’t roll in order for the defense to have a shot to improve. Will these subtle changes be enough to spark both dormant units?
Time will tell, but this was a mild move for a team in need of something big to happen.