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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
No Jon Tenuta for Illinois, after all

By Brian Bennett

Jon Tenuta's tenure as the Illinois defensive coordinator lasted fewer than 24 hours.

The veteran coach was named an Illini assistant on Tuesday afternoon. But on Wednesday, Tenuta said he had a change of heart and will remain at NC State, where he coaches linebackers.

“From the top, I want to say that Illinois is a great program and I think the world of Tim Beckman,” Tenuta said in a statement. “I’ve known Beck for 20 years and I have no doubt that with the staff he is putting together, he will have Illinois at the top of the Big Ten very soon. However, my family comes first and I may have made a decision without fully thinking through the situation with them. My son is a senior in high school and has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at NC State, and it is something I just don’t want to miss. I was one of the first people to contact Beck and congratulate him on the opportunity at Illinois, and I wish him and the Illini nothing but the best.”

Coaches often use family reasons as an excuse not to do something they don't want. But for Tenuta to turn down a coordinator job and remain a position coach makes you think this is a little more sincere than most.

I had my doubts about Tenuta, anyway, after covering him at Notre Dame in 2009. I'm not sure his style is what Illinois needs.

This is the second known coach to turn down the defensive coordinator job at Illinois, as Vic Koenning opted not to remain on with Beckman. Koenning instead went to North Carolina.

In the end, it won't matter as long as Beckman finds the right guy. But now he has to start looking for another defensive coordinator with a prime recruiting period fast approaching.