When Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman brought Lovie Smith in to change the program, he didn’t expect to see a magical change overnight. He knew it was going to be a process.

Heading into Year 2, Whitman told reporters that he’s still committed to that process.

“We have to keep reminding ourselves we’re 15 months into this,” Whitman told the Illini Inquirer. “This is a process. This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.”

Smith’s first season didn’t go particularly well in Champaign, with the Illini posting a 3-9 record and winning just two B1G games. But the former NFL head coach was a late hire and Illinois was forced to adjust very late in the game.

Moving forward though, Whitman is optimistic he’s got the right guy to turn this program around.

“Do I want to go out and win 12 games this year? Of course I do,” Whitman said. “But I also am just so committed to the process and supporting Coach Smith and our student-athletes every day.

“I’m as bullish about the future of Illinois football as I ever have been,” Whitman said. “I hope our fans continue to share in that enthusiasm, as well.”

The Illini open the season on Sept. 2 against Ball State.