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Illinois coach Tim Beckman, Purdue’s Darrell Hazell will feel the heat

Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell talks mediduring Big Ten football medidays Chicago Monday July 28 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell talks to the media during the Big Ten football media days in Chicago, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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Try finding a college football coach who doesn’t like his team heading into training camp. One doesn’t exist.

It’s the players, such as Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic, who sometimes are the most brutally honest. Cvijanovic understands why a dark cloud looms over Tim Beckman’s third season at
Illinois.

‘‘Yeah, it’s fair,’’ Cvijanovic said at Big Ten media days Tuesday. ‘‘We’re losers right now.’’

At the end of the 2014 Big Ten season, the coaching carousel could spin so fast that commissioner Jim Delany might develop vertigo.

Purdue’s Darrell Hazell and
Indiana’s Kevin Wilson join Beckman on the list of Big Ten coaches whose jobs are in jeopardy after losing seasons in 2013.

Hired to help their respective programs climb back to relevance, none seems to be able to get a grip.

‘‘We’re measured on one thing: the scoreboard,’’ Hazell said. ‘‘I know that, and we all know that. You can do all the other things well and not win, and what’s going to happen to you after a certain
period of time?’’

The clock isn’t ticking exclusively for those three, either. Hazell’s question isn’t reserved for those staring at sub-.500 seasons.

Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Michigan’s Brady Hoke produced seasons that would keep their jobs safe in Champaign, West Lafayette or Bloomington.

But at schools in the business of hoisting trophies, their shoulders haven’t been worked enough.

‘‘It’s always a Big Ten championship,’’ Hoke said. ‘‘That’s where it always starts. So that part of it is something that we embrace.’’

That’s the absolute minimum.

Both schools have national championships to their names, and it doesn’t take too many reminders of days past to turn up the heat. No one really cares if they’re slightly better in the standings.

If the conversation were truly about philosophical mumbo-jumbo, there wouldn’t be a bunch of Big Ten coaches in this predicament. But fandom is about watching your team win and much less about
being able to say it improved.

‘‘As you see a program continually getting better,’’ Beckman said, ‘‘I think that’s what’s asked, and ours has continually gotten better every year. It’s not to where we want it by any means, but it’s gotten better
every year.

‘‘I don’t think it’s a number. It’s just, ‘Are we better?’ ’’

At the end of the season, allow us to check the standings for an answer.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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