Illinois OL coach Luke Butkus leaving for Florida Int’l
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com January 10, 2013 10:14PM
Offensive line coach Luke Butkus (left) is leaving Tim Beckman to join his old Illinois coach, Ron Turner, at Florida International. | AP
Updated: January 11, 2013 12:24AM
Offensive line coach Luke Butkus is leaving Illinois to take a job at Florida International, where he’ll be running-game coordinator as well as offensive line coach, FIU announced Thursday.
Butkus’ departure is the latest in a series of offseason moves Illini coach Tim Beckman is making to bounce back from a discouraging 2-10 inaugural season.
Butkus will be reunited with his Illini coach, former Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, who recently was hired at Florida International.
Beckman fired Chris Beatty, one of his young offensive co-coordinators, last Saturday and is expected to make his other co-coordinator, Billy Gonzales, a position coach. Bill Cubit, who was fired after eight years as head coach at Western Michigan, is expected to be named Illinois’ new offensive coordinator next week.
It wouldn’t be surprising if there are more changes on the Illini staff.
Illinois, which has lost 14 consecutive Big Ten games, finished last in the league in scoring (16.7 points) and yards (296.7) per game and was near the bottom in most other categories. And the defense, which was 11th in points allowed (32.1) and 10th in yards allowed (387.6), also struggled.
Cubit, 59, was 51-47 at Western Michigan. He was fired in November after the Broncos went 4-8. In 2011, Western averaged 35.3 points, 18th in the nation, and 458.5 yards (19th) while going 7-6.
Hiring rules usually require a job at Illinois to be posted for two weeks, but the athletic department has been given a waiver that would allow it to announce Beatty’s replacement on Monday.
‘‘Chris Beatty is an outstanding person and a good coach,’’ Beckman said. ‘‘His family will always be a part of our Illini football family. I wish him the best.’’
A talented young coach, Beatty, 39, was in a role of increased responsibility, as were Butkus, 33, Gonzales, 41, and defensive coordinator Tim Banks, 40. Cubit would be a move toward experience.
‘‘After the year we had, you know there are going to be some changes,’’ Beatty told the Champaign News-Gazette. ‘‘Having said that, it’s disappointing.’’
Considering the heat Beckman could be facing if Illinois continues to struggle next fall, Butkus’ move provides more job security than he would have had staying in Champaign.
Turner was hired Jan. 3 by FIU, which is moving to Conference USA. Reuniting with Turner was irresistible, Butkus said.
‘‘Ron Turner gave me my first opportunity to play college football, then the chance to coach with the Chicago Bears,” said Butkus, the nephew of Dick Butkus. ‘‘I can’t wait to get started with him again.’’