Just one day after University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman fired the head football coach in Bill Cubit, there seems to be a new man in charge already; his name, Lovie Smith.
Bill Cubit Out, Lovie Smith in
When AD Josh Whitman fired head coach Bill Cubit there was a sense of shock and disbelief that surrounded the school and program. How and why could Cubit be canned already when he was just given a 2 year contract extension following the 2015 season? Cubit solidified his role as the lead man for the orange and blue a week prior to the start of the 2015 season following the firing of head coach Tim Beckman. Despite not making a bowl game, there was a substantial amount of improvement on both sides of the ball, defense was one of the best in the Big Ten and the offense was fairly solid. Cubits' success in his first season as the head man was the reason as to why the program inked the 62 year old to an extension. Cubit will surely be missed by the Illini faithful; with his success in the college game the now former Illini coach will most certainly have no problem finding another job.
With Lovie Smith now in charge what does this mean? The 57 year old Smith, who was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season, will most certainly bring excitement and relevancy back to the school’s football program. Tampa Bay fired Smith back on January 7 after he went 8-24 through two seasons as the man in charge down in Tampa. The Bucs' picked up four more wins in Smiths second season and they did so with the number 1 overall draft pick in Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner and national champ started all 16 games for Tampa, however the success wasn’t enough to secure Smiths spot as head coach.
"Smith and the UI have a six-year agreement calling for payments of $2 million annually for 2016 and 2017, $3 million for 2018, $4 million for 2019 and $5 million annually for both 2020 and 2021. He will have opportunities for performance incentives tied to team academic and athletic achievements. Smith's appointment will be presented for UI Board of Trustee approval on March 16."-via Illinois SID
College coaching is nothing new for Smith, he spent time with Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State and Kentucky as a linebackers coach and he spent time at Tennessee and Ohio State as a defensive back coach.
During his time in the NFL, Lovie spent time as the defensive coordinator for the Rams, the linebackers coach/head coach with the Buccaneers and the head coach of the 2006 NFC Champion Chicago Bears.
Lovie Smith will take over a Fighting Illini team that has been an average team in the Big Ten for the last eight seasons. Since making the Rose Bowl in the 2007 season, the orange and blue have not won more than seven games in a season. However, Illinois has made three bowl games during that span, winning two of them. He'll also have two offensive center pieces to work with in senior quarterback Wes Lunt and sophomore running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn.
Lovie said the opportunity is appealing because he gets a chance to work in young men's lives.
"I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini," Lovie said. "[Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman] approached me about this possibility, and I immediately seized on the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the young men who are part of the program today and in the future. I take this responsibility very seriously and can't wait to get a staff in place to start our move to make Illinois a contender for Big Ten titles. We will play an exciting brand of football that will make our fans, alumni, student body and members of the University community extremely proud."-via Illinois SID