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Published: Friday, 12/9/2011

UT's Beckman accepts head coaching job at Illinois

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE STAFF

At a 7 a.m. team meeting Friday, University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman announced to his team that he had accepted the head coaching position at Illinois, multiple players and school officials confirmed as they were walking out of Larimer Athletic Complex.

UT will hold a 1 p.m. news conference with athletic director Mike O'Brien and select players to address Beckman's departure and who will coach the Rockets in the Military Bowl against Air Force on Dec. 28 in Washington. UT offensive coordinator Matt Campbell is the leading candidate to be named the Rockets' next head coach, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Players were instructed not to speak with the media by UT officials, but several posted on Twitter to express their support or disappointment in Beckman.

"I respect Coach Beck for what he did!" sophomore defensive end Jayrone Elliott wrote. "He had to do what was best for him and the fam (sic). Congrats and go get that ring!"

Others weren't so understanding.

"Wish ppl (sic) would practice what they preach," sophomore running back David Fluellen wrote. "Talk about finishing strong how are u (sic) finishing strong leaving before a bowl game."

As he left Larimer about 7:20 a.m. and walked to his personal car, Beckman refused to confirm he had accepted the Illinois job.

"I can't do that right now," he said.

Beckman said he was headed home but didn't say where he was going after that. Asked if he would be at the Rockets' practice later Friday, Beckman said, "We'll try to make it back. We'll see."

Beckman said he was not aware that UT would be holding a news conference later Friday afternoon and said, "we'll see" when asked if he'd be soon boarding an airplane bound for Illinois.

"Thanks guys," Beckman said before shutting his car door and driving away.



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