Beckman, entering his third season at the helm for the Rockets, is coming off an 8-5 season that included the team’s first bowl appearance in five years, a trip to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.
“Tim Beckman is not only an outstanding football coach, but he is also a tremendous leader and mentor,” O’Brien said. “He is determined to make the UT football program the finest in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), as well as a factor on the national scene. In addition to building a winning football program, he is dedicated to making sure our student-athletes graduate and having them participate in community activities. We are pleased to make this commitment to Coach Beckman and look forward to many more years with him as our head football coach.”
“I’m grateful for the support of President Lloyd Jacobs, Mike O’Brien and the entire administrative staff,” Beckman said. “I’m extremely honored and excited to be a part of what I feel is the best program in the Mid-American Conference.”
Beckman, 46, was named head coach in December 2008, inheriting a team that finished 3-9 the previous season. He led the Rockets to a 5-7 finish in his rookie campaign, a season that featured a 54-38 home-field victory over Colorado of the Big 12 before a national TV audience.
Coming into the 2010 season, Beckman’s squad was picked to finish fourth in the MAC’s West Division title by the MAC Newsmedia Association. Nevertheless, the Rockets surprised many observers by winning eight games (7-1 in league 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 ranked No. 1 in the MAC by most recruiting services. And the 2011 Rocket squad returns 17 starters from a year ago and is picked by most observers to be a strong candidate to win the MAC West title this season.
Beckman is known as a motivator who has firm expectations for his players, whether in off-season training, in the classroom 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 classroom at least once at the beginning of each 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.
His efforts have paid dividends in the classroom. 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 remained in the 2.9 range ever since. Also, the team’s four-year Academic Progress Rate 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.
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. He 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 started his collegiate 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 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics playoffs both seasons. He attended Forest Park High School in Beaumont, Texas, for two years before completing high school at Berea (Ohio) High School near Cleveland.
Beckman is a native of Berea. He and his wife, Kim, have three children: Tyler (20), Lindsay (18) and Alex (14). Tyler is a sophomore quarterback at the University of Findlay, while Lindsay will be a freshman at UT this fall.