TEMPE, Ariz. - Less than eight months after moving to Columbus from Bowling Green, Tim Beckman finds himself standing on the well-irrigated practice fields at Pinnacle High School, his visor tugged low on his forehead to shield his eyes from the unfiltered desert sun.
It is quite a leap from Perry Stadium, where for seven seasons Beckman worked with the Falcons as a defensive coach, recruiting coordinator, defensive boss, and then as assistant head coach.
But after joining the Ohio State staff in May, the whirlwind that followed has landed Beckman here in the Sonoran Desert with the Buckeyes, coaching the cornerbacks and preparing for the Fiesta Bowl matchup with Notre Dame.
"We went from recruiting to camp, then we were in the process of moving, and then right into preparation for the season. You never really had time to hit the ground," Beckman said yesterday. "It's a real thrill, being here in this setting, and playing in a BCS bowl game. You feel honored, privileged to be a part of it all, but it still comes down to coaching the kids and doing the best job you can to get them ready to play."
No matter the setting, Beckman is still barking at his players, refining their technique, coaxing and cajoling. Even with the move to the Big Ten, that aspect of his profession changes little.
"The key is always getting the kids to perform what we call, and always be in position to make the play," Beckman said. "It's really not any different than what the kids did for us at Bowling Green. I love working with college football players, and the opportunity to coach at Ohio State has just given me the chance to do that job on a bigger stage."
Beckman, a University of Findlay grad who played defensive back for the Oilers, came to Ohio State with a clear-cut coaching pedigree, and one that linked him to Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.
Beckman's father, Dave, coached in the Big Ten at Iowa, was an assistant in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers, and head coach with Hamilton in the Canadian Football League. Beckman's dad played his college football at Baldwin-Wallace for Lee Tressel, the father of the Ohio State coach.
"The first thing you always look for when you add someone to your staff is a good person, and I have known Tim Beckman for years and years, and always knew he fit that part of it," Tressel said. "He gained a lot of experience as a young coach, and then worked his way up the ladder at Bowling Green.
"Then you look for his expertise, and where can he recruit. Tim was the right choice for both of those - the right fit. We wanted expertise in the back end of our defense, and we wanted a guy who had coordinated the defense and would bring a lot of maturity to our staff. We also wanted a guy who could recruit northeast Ohio, so it has worked out well with Tim on all fronts."
Safety Donte Whitner said Beckman has had an immediate impact on the entire Ohio State secondary, not just the cornerbacks.
"Coach Beckman came in and said a lot of things that made sense, and really helped the secondary as a whole," Whitner said. "It was obvious right away that he had a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge, and sharing that made everyone on our defense better, not just the corners."
Beckman, who has also coached at Auburn, Western Carolina and Elon during a 17-year career, said the move to Ohio Stadium came at the right time - professionally and personally.
"This profession is tough enough on your family, so you want to pick your spots very carefully, and you want to minimize the impact on your family," Beckman said. "But at the same time, everyone is aware that movement is part of the job. In so many ways, this was an ideal move for us. We're still in Ohio, still in familiar territory, and only two hours away from all the family and friends we have in Bowling Green and around the state."
The opportunity to go to Ohio State came up at a time when Beckman's oldest son, Tyler, was preparing to start high school, so a lot of study and research went into the decision.
"Being a coach's son myself, I understood it," Beckman said. "My father moved me when I was going to be a junior in high school, and it was tough. It was real tough.
"We moved seven times when I was a kid, but that was part of being in a coaching family. I went to two different high schools, and two different junior highs. As a coach's son, you learn a lot about meeting new friends."
His family has assimilated well into the Ohio State fold, and as he coaches one of the top defenses in the country, Beckman said a win over Notre Dame on Monday would make this a very successful first season for him.
"In my opinion, if you are involved in college football, coaching at Ohio State is one of the top two or three jobs in the country," Beckman said.
"Growing up in Ohio, I'm sure I'm kind of biased about it, but if you grow up a Buckeye it's always in your blood. I couldn't play here - I wasn't good enough - but I've had the opportunity to coach here and be a part of something like this, and it is awesome for both me and my family."
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