Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman added to his workload on Sunday when he announced the decision to fire head football coach Lovie Smith.

Besides now having to help the football program get through next week’s game against Penn State, he also now has to conduct a coaching search and find the person who will be tasked with turning things around in Champagne.

The decision didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone with Smith’s contract situation and the poor performance this season. Now, Whitman has to convince someone that this spot is the right one for them.

That might be a stretch from Whitman but not totally surprising given his next task. He also might have said that not knowing that the Auburn job also opened up on Sunday with the firing of Guz Malzahn. Other power-five jobs that have opened up this season include South Carolina and Arizona.

It seems that whenever we’re discussing an opening at Illinois we hear a lot about potential. That seems to be true but it seems like no one has really cracked open that potential. Ron Zook got the Illini to Pasadena, but that’s as close as we’ve seen anyone find potential in this program.