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Mark Tupper | Herald and Review | September 16, 2014

Leading by example

  Last spring, 51 Illinois players earned 3.0 grade-point averages.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- When a football program has an 8-19 record over two-plus seasons, the coaching staff is open to a bundle of criticism.

Whether it's recruiting, player development, in-game strategy or comments made in press conferences, Illinois head coach Tim Beckman attracts more than his share of detractors.

But the performance of the Illini football team off the field has drawn mostly rave reviews for everything from academic work to community involvement to an absence of behavioral problems or social issues.

In the wake of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson incidents that have plagued the National Football League in recent weeks, Illini coaches hope they've been proactive in setting a good example for the players.

Inside the Illini locker room there are posted guidelines for expected behavior, one of which says, "Respect Women."

But offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, a married father of two adult children, said he tries to show what respect means with his actions around the Illini football office.

"We talk about it at the beginning of every season," Cubit said. "But to me it's about setting an example. My wife Nancy is around all the time. The players see her all the time. And I tell them, 'I'm a nobody but there's a way you can have a great relationship with your girlfriend or wife and I'll show you that way.'"

The wives of many of the coaches are routinely seen around the football complex. After each post-game press conference, Nancy Cubit, Kim Beckman and Robin Banks (wife of defensive coordinator Tim Banks) are often there to greet their husbands with a hug or a kiss.

They seem to know all the players by name and players routinely greet them with a hug.

"Nancy comes around all the time and [defensive lineman] Jihad Ward says, 'Hey, Miss Nancy.' You can talk until you're blue in the face and I'm sure Ray Rice has had people talk to him. But if you show it, it's a little bit different." Cubit said.

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