Lovie Smith responds to ESPN report of being ‘miserable’ in Champaign

lovieoneanddone

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg’s reported that Lovie Smith was “miserable” in Champaign.

That came as a bit of a surprise, to say the least. Smith is eight months removed from taking over the job, and by all accounts, he’s in it for the duration of his six-year contract.

But Rittenberg wrote this report based on three different sources close to Smith. Here was an excerpt from Rittenberg’s ESPN Insider story:

“But several industry sources say that Smith is miserable in Champaign. Yes, every 2-6 coach is miserable, but this situation is especially sour — and that the rebuilding job looks much greater than he anticipated. Could Lovie be one-and-done? A source close to Smith says no and that while the rebuild is extreme, Smith should be rejuvenated after signing his own recruiting class. Then again, if the NFL expresses renewed interest in Smith, all bets are off.”

On Monday night, Smith happened to tweet about how happy he was at Illinois:

Smith also addressed the matter during his Monday availability. Perhaps he didn’t think his comments earlier cleared up the matter.

“Am I happy right now with where we are? No, no one on our football team is happy with where we are right now,” Smith said. “My time in Champaign, it’s a little bit bigger than where we are right now. Our football team, we’re going to win a lot of games eventually, and there’s not much more than that. As I said after the game Saturday, not many of us should be happy with where we’re at right now, but we’re going to do something to fix it together here.

“I would not get into speculation at all,” Smith said when directly asked about the whole “one-and-done” phrasing. “You’re hearing it from me. I would go on what you’re getting from me right now.”

Smith can’t say much more than that. Obviously a 2-6 coach isn’t happy, and given Smith’s lack of college ties, it would be natural for people around him to make those connections.

Even if Rittenberg’s sources were correct in their assessment, being “miserable” doesn’t mean he’s losing sight of the long-term vision. For now, it doesn’t appear that Illinois will have to find its fourth coach in a year-and-a-half.

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Photo Credit: Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

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