Illinois coach Tim Beckman doesnt regret his aggressive recruiting of Penn State players after this past summers announcement of major NCAA sanctions against the Nittany Lions.
I stated what we believed in and what the NCAA allowed us to do, Beckman said during his weekly news conference Monday. We were contacted prior to any of this stuff happening by a young man and we pursued it. We didnt go and chase him.
Illinois coaches arrived in State College two days after the NCAA implemented a waiver allowing Penn State players to transfer and compete immediately at another school. Beckman and his staffs visible recruiting efforts netted reserve redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki.
Beckman said the only thing he regrets is the stir his staffs decision created. Beckman fielded multiple questions at the Big Ten media days in Chicago about his programs recruitment of Penn State players. With the Fighting Illini set to meet Penn State on Saturday in Champaign, Ill., Beckman is being forced to answer questions about the situation again.
When we had that opportunity to go out and ask young men, or if they come to us, and they would like an opportunity to speak to us, I think thats what college football is about, Beckman said. I regret that its being this much talked about, but it did give a young man an opportunity to make his decision on what he wanted to do.
Penn State coach Bill OBrien and Beckman spoke in Chicago. Beckman said he hopes there isnt any tension between the duo. Both coaches are making their Big Ten debuts Saturday. OBrien spent last season with the New England Patriots. Illinois plucked Beckman from the University of Toledo to replace Ron Zook.
This game is about the players and about playing it on the field and I know they will be prepared, Beckman said. I know Coach OBrien does a great job of getting his players prepared and ready. I think hes done a fabulous job with that program and we know it will be a 60-minute battle.
Both teams are 2-2. Penn State defeated Temple 24-13 this past weekend. Louisiana Tech blasted Illinois 52-24.
Illinois summer foray into State College will likely be a topic during OBriens weekly news conference today. OBrien responded with short, terse answers when pressed about Beckman and Illinois at the Big Ten media days.
Penn State players said after the Temple game they are treating Illinois like other Big Ten Leaders Division opponents.
I think the intensity will be the same, cornerback Stephon Morris said. Knowing that we cant go to the bowl game, but we can win this division, theres going to be a lot of intensity in every game we play.
Tailbacks Bill Belton and Derek Day are listed as probable for Saturday's game, according to the injury report released Monday night.
Belton hasn't played since injuring his ankle in the third quarter of the season opener against Ohio University. Day separated his shoulder the following week at Virginia and didn't play against Navy or Temple.
Left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle), defensive end Sean Stanley (back) and fullback Michael Zordich (knee) are also listed as probable. Defensive end Pete Massaro (shoulder) is listed as possible.
Back on national TV
Penn States Oct. 6 game against Northwestern (4-0) will begin at noon and be shown by either ESPN or ESPN2. The game is Penn States homecoming.
The game is Penn States sixth straight on an ESPN network. Penn State makes its first appearance on the Big Ten Network against Iowa on Oct. 20.
ESPN is broadcasting Saturdays game against Illinois, which begins at noon.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy