CHICAGO First-year Illinois football coach Tim Beckman spent a lot of fall afternoons rolling around on the Kinnick Stadium grass.
“I used to go to practice every day at Nile Kinnick,” Beckman said Friday at Big Ten media days. “I’d stand on the sidelines and shoot the players. Pops got pissed off because the players ran over us.”
“Pops” was David Beckman, who served as an assistant coach under Bob Commings from 1973 to 1978.
The younger Beckman went to Lemme Elementary School and then South East Junior High in Iowa City and spent a lot of free time at Hawkeye football practice.
“My mother would take us to practice every day,” Beckman said. “Every day we’d go to practice because we wouldn’t see him.
“She’d have us at practice so we could see dad. We’d see dad after practice, we’d go home, and he wouldn’t come home until later.”
Beckman filled water bottles, played catch with the likes of Dan Matter and Jon Lazar, and generally did what kids do.
Beckman’s said his first memories of football were scouting with his dad for Hubbard High School (Youngstown, Ohio) when he was just four.
“We’d sit on the hill and watch the game,” Beckman said. “Matter of fact, we climbed the fence one time!”
But his time in Iowa City cemented his love for the game.
“Dad’s profession gave me the life to do what he was doing,” Beckman said. “And my mother was the one that gave me the opportunities.”
College football wasn’t a booming business like it is today. Beckman remembered his mother hosting get-togethers at their house with the coaches every Saturday and players on other days.
“Mom was the one making spaghetti when the offensive line came over,” Beckman said. “I was playing Pong against them.”
Beckman got the full Iowa experience, too.
“Mom would pick me up at South East in seventh grade and take me to Iowa,” Beckman said. “And Dan Gable would help me.
“Maybe that’s one of the perks you got with your dad being a coach, here’s Dan Gable telling you how to wrestle.”
But Cummings was fired following the 1978 season and the Beckmans — like many football families — went back on the road in search of the next job.
Beckman said it bothered his father he couldn’t help Commings turn the Hawkeye program around. That staff went 18-37 over five seasons, including just 2-9 in that final season.
“It was tough on him, no question about it, because he had won so many places and he never got over that hump,” Beckman said. “Bob Commings was a great person.”
Beckman’s return to Kinnick Stadium as Illinois coach isn’t scheduled until Oct. 31, 2015, but he already got to experience it as an Ohio State assistant in 2006.
“It was cool to go back there,” he said. “That back pathway that goes up to the press box, I used to run that when I was a kid.
“That’s tough. It’s all uphill underneath the stadium.”
No. 1 Ohio State won that day 38-17. Revitalizing Illinois, that’ll be uphill, too.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football