Illinois Names Lovie Smith as new head coach

“Naming Lovie Smith as the Illinois head football coach is the first step in taking this program to a place of national prominence,” - Josh Whitman

Illinois has officially hired coach Lovie Smith. Smith replaced Bill Cubit, who was fired Saturday in athletic director Josh Whitman’s first day on the job. Whitman will hold a press conference Monday afternoon to dicuss the hire.

“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini,” Smith said in a statement. “Josh 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.”


Smith, who was recently fired after going 8-24 in two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has not coached at the collegiate level since 1996. His last collegiate job was a the defensive backs coach at Ohio State.

However, Smith is no stranger to the state of Illinois. He led the Chicago Bears to three NFC North titles and a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. He’s 89-87 overall as an NFL head coach.

Smith’s contract is for six years and $21 million, but it’s tiered as an incentive to stay with the program. Smith will make $2 million in 2016 and 2017, $3 million in 2018, $4 million in 2019 and $5 million annually in 2020 and 2021.

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