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Thursday, July 10, 2014
Illinois loses O-line coach to Mizzou

By Brian Bennett

It's often said that the only news in the summertime in college football is bad news.

That usually applies only to players, but as Illinois learned on Wednesday, it can apply to coaches as well. Less than a month before the start of fall camp, the Fighting Illini are looking for a new offensive line coach after assistant A.J. Ricker left for the same post at Missouri.

Ricker is a Mizzou graduate who will take over for Bruce Walker, who retired earlier this month. And now Tim Beckman is making yet another change with his offensive line coaching position.

Beckman is now looking for his fourth O-line coach in four seasons in Champaign, as Ricker came aboard before last season. The Illini made great strides on offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Cubit in 2013, and Ricker had worked as an assistant under Cubit at Western Michigan for a couple of years, making that transition smoother.

It's not a great time to be trying to hire a coach. Then again, Illinois should be used to it, as Jim Bridge left for Purdue right before spring practice began last year. Ricker replaced him, and things worked out OK. The Illini obviously have less time to seek a replacement this time around. Beckman has to get someone in place in the next couple of weeks and hope that person can mesh with the rest of the staff and the line, where there are three returning starters.

This isn't the best situation, which is typical in the aftermath of college football news in the summer.