Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Battle to Avoid Bottom of Big Ten ; Boilers, Illini Both Look to End Massive Skids

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Battle to Avoid Bottom of Big Ten ; Boilers, Illini Both Look to End Massive Skids

Article excerpt

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Having once worked together at Ohio State, Saturday's football game at Ross-Ade Stadium won't be the first time Illinois coach Tim Beckman and Purdue coach Darrell Hazell have competed against each other. "We went against each other every day in one-onone drills, and it was a lot of fun," said Hazell, who was the Buckeyes' wide receivers coach when Beckman was the defensive backs coach on Jim Tressel's staff in 2005 and 2006. "Great battles."

Beckman also remembers those daily duels as being competitive, and while the two coaches haven't talked much since Beckman left to become the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, he said he has a "great relationship" with Hazell.

"We were friends, obviously; we were on the same staff," said Hazell, who was promoted to assistant head coach at Ohio State in 2005 and didn't leave Columbus until after the 2010 season to become the head coach at Kent State.

Now, depending on the outcome of Saturday's 11 a.m. CST contest, one of them could soon end up without a job.

Illinois is 3-7 overall, but has a six-game losing streak since conference play began. Purdue, also winless through six games in the Big Ten, has lost its last eight games overall and has a 1-9 record.

Beckman's office seat in Champaign, Ill., is much hotter, of course. A loss to Purdue would extend his winless streak in the conference to 15 games and doom the Illini to another season at the bottom of the division standings.

But Beckman, who has three years left on his contract, insists the Illini are making progress even if the results haven't appeared on the field.

"We are competitive," said Beckman. "It comes down to winning and losing, we all know that. But this football team has become competitive in everything they do. It's not about first downs and touchdowns; it's about everything they do. …

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