It seemed like the Lovie Smith firing at Illinois was inevitable at this point. But that doesn’t mean that the decision wasn’t met with some disappointment.

That was especially true for some of the players who had played their entire college career under Smith. Jake Hansen, a senior linebacker for the Illini, was one of the players who is dealing with the exit of a head coach they knew quite well.

Hansen had a lot of nice things to say about his now former head coach during a press conference Monday, giving the coach some big praise.

Though Hansen is sad about the decision to fire Smith, he seems to understand the reality of the situation.

As Hansen notes, he believes Smith put the program in good shape for whoever takes over next.

Honestly, you could’ve said that quote is from a preseason press conference this year, and I would’ve believed it. The talk that continued to surround Illinois heading into this season was that the roster was so improved. But we just haven’t seen it yet. The next Illini coach could prove that Smith did build things up. We’ll just have to wait and see.