Football is not a way of life for Tim Beckman. It is his life.
Practically since the day he was born, Beckman has either been playing or coaching football. As the son of a football coach, Beckman received an early education in all aspects of the sport. He never seriously considered anything other than coaching as his chosen profession.
Beckman, 46, likes to say he has 46 years of coaching experience. It's an exaggeration, but not by much. His father, Dave Beckman, coached football on all levels, exposing his sons to every aspect of the game at an early age.
"I've been around football and football coaches all my life," said Beckman. "I was born with a football. My dad coached high school ball and up to college ball and the pros, so I've had a chance to see it all."
All that experience helped Beckman as a player in high school, then in college at the University of Findlay under Dick Strahm, and then began his climb up the coaching ladder. That climb began with a graduate assistant's position under Pat Dye at Auburn in 1988, and later positions under some of the finest coaches in the land, including Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel and Mike Gundy. And most recently, Beckman has focused his lifelong passion into his post as the head coach at the University of Toledo.
"I'm blessed that I've been able to learn from coaches like these," said Beckman. "I just love football. I love being around it. It's an important part of my life."
Following the "Plan" to Success
Now entering his third season as the head coach at UT, Beckman has taken many elements of what he has learned over the years to create his own coaching ethos he likes to call "The Plan." That plan appears to be on schedule, if not ahead of it, as evidenced by Toledo's 8-5 record in 2010 and a berth in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.
"We've talked about it since the day we arrived here," said Beckman. "Our players have bought into the plan, done all the right things on the field and off. Now we are seeing the results."
Inheriting a team that finished 3-9 in 2008, Beckman led the Rockets to a 5-7 finish in his rookie campaign, a season that had the excitement of a 54-38 victory over Colorado, but the disappointment of losing four-year starting quarterback Aaron Opelt to injury.
Coming into the 2010 season, Beckman's squad was not expected to compete for the MAC West Division title, as the MAC Newsmedia Association picked the Rockets to finish in fourth place in the West. UT had lost numerous key senior starters, including NFL players Barry Church (Dallas) and Stephen Williams (Arizona), and lacked experience in many key areas. Nevertheless, the Rockets surprised many observers by winning eight games (7-1 in Mid-American Conference play), and securing UT's first winning season and bowl berth since 2005.
The future looks even brighter. Beckman's last two recruiting classes were generally ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference by the recruiting services. And the 2011 Rocket squad returns 17 starters from a year ago and looks primed for another MAC title run.
Beckman Becomes a Rocket
Beckman became the 25th head football coach in UT history in December of 2008 and immediately began transforming the program. He instilled a new enthusiasm and intensity that inspired players and Rocket fans alike. The Rockets improved by two wins and in most important statistical categories over the previous season. But more importantly, Beckman laid a solid foundation that puts Toledo in the position to be a dominant program in the Mid-American Conference for years to come.
Beckman's first task as head coach was to simultaneously assemble a coaching staff and a recruiting class. Within days of his hire, he had a core of coaches together and out on the road in an all-out effort to sign a top-notch group of recruits. Starting with just two verbal commitments from the fall, Beckman and his staff added 16 more recruits to give the Rockets a very respectable recruiting class of 18 signees. Many of the players from that first recruiting class make up the core of the Rockets' current starting lineup.
Beckman's other challenge was to begin to change the attitude and habits of the players. He started by instilling firm expectations for his players, whether in off-season training, in the class room or in the community. For example, Beckman requires his players to sit in the first two rows in their classes. He also requires players to make personal contact with each of their instructors outside of the class room at least once at the beginning of the semester. Beckman also began a program of community service in which the Rockets are required to take part in community activities on Fridays during the off-season.
As part of his plan to increase competitiveness and team-building, Beckman breaks his squad up into eight "teams," making them compete in everything during the off-season-in the weight room, in the classroom, during drills, even during fun social activities. The first-place team is rewarded each week, while the eighth-place team has to run early-morning drills.
"It's constant competition," said Beckman said of his off-season philosophy. "Peer pressure comes into play. Players aren't happy if they lose because their teammate was late for class."
Beckman's efforts to change the mentality of the program have paid dividends in the class room. In his first semester overseeing the program, the team's combined semester GPA rose from 2.370 to 2.922, an average increase of more than half a grade per player. UT's team GPA has stayed in the 2.9 range ever since. Also, the team's four-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) has risen to a school-record 943-well above the NCAA's "cut point" of 925-and includes a very impressive 981 score for the 2009-10 academic year.
2009: Laying the Foundation for the Future
Beckman's first season as head coach saw the Rockets improve by two wins and decisively defeat a Big 12 school. More importantly, perhaps, was the unquestionable feeling among the team and its fans that the Rockets were back on the path to success.
Despite losing four-year starting quarterback Aaron Opelt to injury midway through the season, the Rockets went from three wins in 2008 to five wins in 2009, the third-best improvement in the MAC. Toledo's biggest victory was a nationally televised 54-38 win over Colorado in the Glass Bowl. The Rockets also defeated defending MAC champion Ball State, as well as Northern Illinois, a team that earned a berth in the International Bowl.
The foundation for Toledo's future was further solidified by two developments. First, on Signing Day in February, both Rivals.com and Scout.com ranked Toledo's 2010 recruiting class as No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference, the first time a UT recruiting class received such recognition.
Just three days later, the Fetterman Training Center officially opened, giving the Rockets one of the finest indoor facilities in the country.
To Beckman, the Fetterman Training Center is more than just a building.
"When you walk into Fetterman, the first thing you have to say is, 'Wow.' I've seen a lot of indoor facilities in my life, but this is one of the best," said Beckman. "When we bring our recruits into this building, it tells them that this University is committed to our athletic programs, and has a vision for excellence."
2010: The Rockets Go Bowling
To the casual observer, the Rockets faced a rebuilding year in 2010. UT lost 11 senior starters from 2009, including a four-year starter at quarterback, an All-MAC running back and two All-MAC players currently in the NFL.
But Beckman and his team never saw it that way. Even though the Rockets were young and were facing a treacherous schedule, Beckman felt his team would thrive in Year Two of his tenure as UT's leader.
And thrive they did, going 8-5 and earning the team's first bowl bid since 2005. The Rockets also went 7-1 in league play, coming up one win short of a MAC West Division title. Of UT's five losses, four came to teams playing in bowl games.
Toledo's achievement is even more impressive when one considers the challenge of the Rockets' schedule, especially at the start of the season. Some pundits looked at the slate and wondered if Toledo might start the season 0-6. The first six games consisted of non-conference battles with Arizona, Purdue, Boise State and Wyoming, as well as conference road contests at Ohio and Western Michigan.
But following a season-opening loss to Arizona, the Rockets won back-to-back MAC road games at Ohio and Western Michigan, followed by a convincing 31-20 victory at Purdue, a feat that sealed Toledo's status as a team to be reckoned with. And though the Rockets were then humbled by losses at home to Wyoming and at Boise State, they bounced right back with three consecutive league victories over Kent State, Ball State and Eastern Michigan. The wins over Kent State and Ball State were notable for their comebacks. Toledo trailed the Golden Flashes at halftime, 21-7, before storming back to a 34-21 triumph, and recovered from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Cardinals, 31-24.
A 42-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Oct. 30 came with a price, however-the loss of Dantin for the season. However, redshirt freshman quarterback Terrance Owens stepped in and led Toledo to victories over EMU, Bowling Green and the regular-season finale against Central Michigan. Owens threw for 304 yards and three TDs in a 42-31 win over the Chippewas. But the biggest story of that game was sophomore Eric Page, who accounted for five touchdowns-two by receiving, two on kickoff returns and one passing.
Toledo was rewarded for its outstanding season with an invitation to play Florida International in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. The Rockets held a 24-7 lead in the third quarter before falling behind, 31-24. A last-minute touchdown by Owens and a two-point conversion put UT up, 32-31, with just over a minute to play. Unfortunately, FIU connected on a 34-yard field goal with no time on the clock to claim a 34-32 victory.
21 Years of Experience as an Assistant
Before becoming UT's head coach, Beckman had 21 years of experience as an assistant coach, mostly with winning teams. He has been a part of teams that made the top 25 in each of his final seven seasons as an assistant.
Beckman served as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State (2007-08); the cornerbacks coach at Ohio State (2005-06); the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Bowling Green (1998-2004); the defensive coordinator at Elon (1996-97); the secondary coach/recruiting coordinator at Western Carolina (1990-95); and as a graduate assistant at Auburn (1988-89).
Beckman's two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State were highly successful considering the ultra-competitive nature of the Big 12. During Beckman's time in Stillwater, the Cowboys posted a 16-10 record, including a 9-4 mark in 2008.
Oklahoma State ranked as high as No. 6 in the BCS rankings and No. 7 in the AP poll last season, with three of its losses coming to teams that were ranked in the top three in the country when they faced OSU (#1 Texas, #2 Texas Tech and #3 Oklahoma). In four of the Cowboys' victories, Beckman's defense held opponents to 14 points or fewer. In 2007, the Cowboys went 7-6, including a 49-33 win over Indiana in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ.
At Ohio State, Beckman mentored the Buckeye cornerbacks. In 2006, Ohio State ended the year No. 12 nationally in total defense, allowing just 280.5 yards per game. The Buckeyes were fifth in the country in scoring defense, yielding only 12.8 points per game, and Antonio Smith was a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.
In 2005, Beckman helped coach an Ohio State defense that ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run and fifth in total defense. The Buckeyes finished fourth in both major polls. During his stay at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were 22-3 with appearances in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and the 2007 BCS Championship game. Along the way he coached six All-Big Ten defensive backs. His final game as a coach with Ohio State was the 2007 BCS National Championship Game vs. Florida, where Beckman faced his former boss from his days at Bowling Green, Urban Meyer.
At Bowling Green, Beckman was a three-time nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, presented annually to the nation's top assistant coach. He was a finalist in 2001 when the Falcons led the Mid-American Conference in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, turnovers gained and scoring margin. The College Football News named him one of the country's top defensive coordinators. During his stay at Bowling Green, the Falcons won two bowl games, a MAC division title and finished ranked in the national polls three times.
Playing Days and Coaching Origins
Beckman began his coaching career in 1988 as a graduate assistant at Auburn, where he earned his master's degree in education. His first full-time coaching job came at Western Carolina, where he coached the secondary and served as recruiting coordinator from 1990-95. He coached two of the top defenses in the Southern Conference during his time with the Catamounts. Beckman then served as the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Elon College from 1996-97 before moving on to Bowling Green.
Beckman started his college playing career at Kentucky but transferred to Findlay and excelled under head coach Dick Strahm. A 1988 graduate of Findlay, Beckman majored in physical education and lettered in 1984 and 1985 on Oiler teams that qualified for the NAIA playoffs both seasons. He attended Forest Park High School in Beaumont, TX, for two years before completing high school at Berea (OH) High School near Cleveland.
Beckman is a native of Berea. He and his wife Kim have three children: Tyler (20), Lindsay (17), and Alex (13). Tyler attends the University of Findlay on a football scholarship.
Record as an Head Coach
Year School Record Bowl
2010 Toledo 8-5 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
2009 Toledo 5-7
Record as an Assistant Coach
Year School Position Record / Highlights
2008 Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator 9-4 / No. 6 BCS ranking
2007 Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator 7-6 / Insight Bowl
2006 Ohio State Cornerbacks 12-1 / BCS Championship Game
2005 Ohio State Cornerbacks 10-2 / Fiesta Bowl
2004 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 9-3 / GMAC Bowl
2003 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 11-3 / Motor City Bowl
2002 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 9-3
2001 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 8-3
2000 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 2-9
1999 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 5-6
1998 Bowling Green Defensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach 5-6
1997 Elon Defensive Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator 7-4
1996 Elon Defensive Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator 4-7
1995 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 3-7
1994 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 6-5
1993 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 6-5
1992 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 7-4
1991 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 2-9
1990 Western Carolina Secondary/Recruiting Coordinator 3-8
1989 Auburn Graduate Assistant 10-2
1988 Auburn Graduate Assistant 10-2
Bowl Games Participated in as a Coach
2007 Insight Bowl
2006 BCS National Championship Game
2005 Fiesta Bowl
2004 GMAC Bowl
2003 Motor City Bowl
1989 Hall of Fame
1988 Sugar Bowl
NFL Players Coached by Tim Beckman
Barry Church, Toledo (Dallas Cowboys)
Stephen Williams, Toledo (Arizona Cardinals)
Tyler Everett, Ohio State (Dallas Cowboys)
Brandon Mitchell, Ohio State (Houston Texans)
Nate Salley, Ohio State (Carolina Panthers)
Donte Whitner, Ohio State (Buffalo Bills)
Donovan Woods, Oklahoma State (Pittsburgh)
Ashton Youboty, Ohio State (Buffalo Bills)
College Football Playing Career
University of Kentucky, 1983University of Findlay, 1984-87
Bachelor’s degree in physical education, University of Findlay, 1988
Master’s degree in education, Auburn University, 1994
Date of Birth: Jan. 19, 1965
Hometown: Berea, OH
Family: Wife: Kim; Children: Tyler (19), Lindsay (17) and Alex (13).
What Players Say About Coach Beckman
“Coach Beckman is a fiery coach who wants the best out of his players. He’s coached in the biggest games. He’s been everywhere and he’s been with some great coaches. He’s a great motivator who is always finding ways to keep us competing against each other. The players adapted to him pretty quickly. He spent a lot of time with the players and built a close relationship with us. I am really impressed with him.”
- Former UT Quarterback Aaron Opelt
“Coach Beckman brings a lot of energy on the field and off the field. He cares about academics, and he treats everyone with respect. It doesn’t matter if you are a star or a walk-on, he treats you the same. That’s very important to players. I’m very glad I had a chance to play for Coach Beckman. ”
- Barry Church, Safety, Dallas Cowboys
“Coach Beckman is very motivational, pushing his players and coaching staff to strive for greatness and never settling for anything less. He has a strong belief in education and giving back to the community. His competitive nature is what makes him great. He taught us a great lesson about life: be great in everything you do. Coach Beckman helped me a lot with becoming a complete receiver. Everybody knows I can catch the ball, but he brought out a toughness to my game with blocking and becoming a more physical wide out.”
- Stephen Williams, WR, Arizona Cardinals