Beckman Announces Coaching Staff Changes
Dec. 14, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois head coach Tim Beckman announced Wednesday that interim head coach and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has decided to pursue other opportunities, and defensive line coach Keith Gilmore will be retained as a member of Beckman's staff. Koenning will continue to lead the Fighting Illini through their game against UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 31.
"We wish Vic nothing but the best as he decides the next destination in his career," Beckman said. "He was given the opportunity to remain at Illinois as defensive coordinator, where he has done fabulous work over the last two seasons. Vic's work as interim head coach in preparing the team for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has been excellent and I know he will remain focused on helping the Fighting Illini prepare for the game."
"Inevitably when a head coaching change occurs, there are many emotions to deal with, and in this situation with the bowl game, it is especially not cut and dry," Koenning said. "I was very honored to be considered by Coach Beckman to remain at Illinois. After a great deal of prayer and discussion with my family, I feel it is best to explore other opportunities. Coach Beckman could not have been better during the process. I know the reason we had success the past two years was the players and coaches who all shared common goals and work ethic. It will be a positive for the returning players to have a new beginning with Coach Beckman and his new staff. The support of the Illini Nation has been tremendous and hopefully they will continue to support this team in San Francisco and in the future."
Illinois currently ranks seventh in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense and fourth in pass defense. The Illini also stand at No. 5 in tackles for loss, No. 9 in sacks, No. 21 in scoring defense, No. 26 in pass efficiency defense and No. 42 in rushing defense. In 2009, the year before Koenning arrived at Illinois, the Orange and Blue ranked 91st in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 84th in TFLs, 89th in sacks, 96th in scoring defense, 103rd in pass efficiency defense and 76th in rushing defense.
"I am very happy to have Keith Gilmore agree to remain on our staff as defensive line coach," Beckman said. "If you studied the Illinois team this year, the defensive line was the strongest area of the team and Coach Gilmore did a great job. Whitney Mercilus' improvement this season under Keith was obvious, as he has been named an All-American by just about everyone. He also played a big part in Corey Liuget's development into a first-round draft pick last year. He is a strong recruiter and will be a great asset for the program."
Gilmore has been instrumental in Illinois' recent success on the defensive line, producing a 2011 first-round NFL Draft pick in defensive tackle Corey Liuget and a 2011 consensus All-American in defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Liuget led Illinois with 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks among his 63 tackles last season, while Mercilus leads the nation with 14.5 sacks, 1.21 sacks per game and nine forced fumbles this year.