And there already is a faction that wants to kick Beckman and the man who hired him out of the house.
Some words of advice for those quick-trigger observers: Don't get your hopes up.
In an interview with the Tribune on Friday, Thomas said Beckman "absolutely" needs to be given more than one year to build the program and gave a definitive answer when asked if the hire was a mistake.
"No. I'm very confident in Coach Beckman and his staff," Thomas said. "… I've been in these situations before. There are a lot of successful coaches who went through some tough times early on."
Illinois' version of tough means going 1-5 and being outscored 215-83 in games against FBS opponents this season.
The Illini haven't won a Big Ten game in more than a year. Of 120 FBS teams, Illinois ranks in the bottom 10 percent in total and scoring offense. A defense thought to boast four returning NFL prospects from former coach Ron Zook's 7-6 team last season has dropped from 15th in scoring defense in 2011 to 85th in 2012.
That number is disconcerting because Beckman served as a defensive coach during his 21 years as an assistant. Critics point to statistics at Oklahoma State because when in his last season as defensive coordinator there in 2008 the Cowboys gave up 28.1 points and 405.5 yards per game. Oklahoma State was 9-4 that season, and Beckman was rewarded with his first head coaching job at Toledo.
On top of the Illini's ugly statistics, Beckman created a Big Ten uproar over conspicuously recruiting Penn State players and a national joke over using smokeless tobacco on the sideline at Wisconsin.
"I'm in this to win too," Beckman said. "We take it day by day. Our motto's 'Own the day' now. …"
Thomas wouldn't give a timeline for when Beckman needs to win consistently, but the state of athletic department finances supports the idea that patience could be in short supply.
In a financial fix?
According to its annual report on its website through fiscal year 2011, Illinois' athletic department has operated within a self-sustaining balanced budget for the last 19 years.
The cost of three coaching changes could make that more difficult to maintain, but Thomas said the athletic department expects to operate in the black again this year and hasn't burned through its reserve funds.
But there are doubters who question how long that will last, with one substantial athletic donor calling the department "a financial train wreck" because of potentially increasing expenses and decreasing revenue.
The expenses start with the $7.12 million in buyouts Illinois will pay to Zook, men's basketball coach Bruce Weber and women's basketball coach Jolette Law.
"Would we rather go through a situation where we weren't having to pay those kinds of dollars to buy out coaches' contracts? Sure," Thomas said. "But we are comfortable with where we are fiscally."
Beckman's five-year, $9 million contract is another expense. His annual compensation starts at four times his salary of about $400,000 at Toledo, a jump that either could be viewed as a necessary parallel with his jump to the Big Ten or a gross overestimation of the value of a coach that had a 21-16 career record. Toledo, under Beckman's former offensive coordinator Matt Campbell, was 6-1 heading into play Saturday night.