It's Official: Lovie Smith is the New Head Coach at Illinois

By Phil Cantor
Mar. 07, 2016

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

by: OSGPhil/@osgphil

Well....new, incoming Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman was looking to make a splash in the otherwise moribund existence of the University of Illinois football team.

Today he, officially, has done it... Depending on your feelings on the new head coach that is.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith was introduced to the players Monday morning as the new head coach for the Illini...

— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD)

Smith takes over for Bill Cubit who was let go last week after one season as an interim head coach and shortly after getting a 2-year contract extension from interim Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk.

Whitman, a former Illinois football player took over March 5th. His office nameplate had yet to be delivered before he fired Cubit. Smith takes over a program lacking in, well, almost everything- even as Cubit somehow managed to win 5 games in 2015:

“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 hasn't coached on the college level for more than two decades, but this move is being widely praised since the Illini have only won 17 games in the last four years under Cubit and Tim Beckman.

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