Tim Beckman said leaving Toledo was the ‘hardest thing I’ve ever done’

Dr. Saturday

When a coach leaves a program, he rarely goes back to talk to his former players. Sure, he'll hold a meeting, maybe some tears will be shed, but once the office is cleaned out and the car pulls off the lot, the coach is gone leaving a slew of angry tweets from players in his wake.

This could have been the way Tim Beckman left Toledo, but he didn't want that to be the Rockets' lasting impression of their coach.

So he went back to the senior banquet, even though players were hurt and said he wasn't welcome, to make sure he said a proper goodbye.

In an interview with Gerry DiNardo of the Big Ten Network, Beckman shared his feelings about making things right at Toledo.

"Terrible. Hardest thing I've ever done," Beckman said of leaving Toledo after three seasons. "I guarantee you that I'm one of the only ones that went back. I went back to the senior banquet because I needed to say goodbye to parents. I needed to say goodbye to those seniors. Those seniors won eight football games. They are the reason that I'm here."

When Beckman was hired after the 2008 season, he inherited a team that was 3-9 and hadn't had a winning season since 2005. The Rockets went 5-7 in his first year, but nearly won the Mid-American Conference West Division in 2010 and 2011. When Beckman decided to leave for Illinois, players were understandably hurt and went to Twitter to vent their frustrations.

"Probably one of the toughest things, too, was reading some of those tweets. I had a couple players that were crushed and those players understand why, now, that I made the decision to become the head football coach at Illinois."

Even though the players might not have wanted to see Beckman, him returning to campus to see seniors and parents showed a lot of class (looking at you, Todd Graham). And no doubt will help him as he continues to recruit for Illinois.

Beckman also spoke to the recruiting war that's been going on between a couple Big Ten coaches and new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, and Beckman admitted that after he took the job at Illinois, he called every recruit in-state — committed or not — and asked if they wanted to come to Illinois.

"I felt like it was my responsibility to call every in-state player and ask them if they were interested in the University of Illinois, committed or not committed," Beckman said. "One of the things that we're going to try to do is we're going to e involved in what we call Illini Nation, and that's a four-hour radius circling around Champaign. That's going to be our home base and I want our coaches seen in every one of those schools in that area."

Beckman goes on to talk about the difficulties of turning around an Illinois program that's only had three winning seasons since 2001 and how it will compare with the turnaround he orchestrated at Toledo.

It's early and Beckman hasn't coached a game yet, but right now it seems like he is a coach that players and fans can really get behind. He not only says the right things, but he does them, too. And that's pretty refreshing considering some of the ways coaches have left their former teams this past year.

- - -
Curtsy (female version of the hat tip) to coachingsearch.com.
Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

What to Read Next