Illinois players react to firing of head coach Lovie Smith
Illinois is moving on from Lovie Smith after five seasons.
The news came down Sunday with the university make the announcement after a 2-5 season heading into the B1G’s Champions Week matchups. Illinois will face Penn State in Week 9 but only with a chance to reach 3-5 just one year after being bowl eligible.
Even in 2019, the loss in the bowl game dropped Illinois to 6-7. That means Smith will finish without a single winning season during his time in Champaign.
Though the results on the field never materialized, there is no denying that Smith was highly-respected his entire time with the Illini. After the news broke, many Illini players took to social media to recognize Smith and offer their thanks for his work with the program.
Thank you for taking a chance on me at a camp 4 years ago. Much Respect.. pic.twitter.com/IO0LNmGVa2
— Jordyn (@Slaughter66_) December 14, 2020
— Doug Kramer Jr. (@illini_doug) December 13, 2020
— L U K E F O R D (@lukeford82) December 13, 2020
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/vl9UKUbdNo
— Casey Washington (@cwash82) December 14, 2020
— Josh Imatorbhebhe (@JoshBhebhe) December 13, 2020
— Kendrick J. Green (@The_fridge53) December 13, 2020
Can’t thank Coach Smith enough for what he has done for me. He took a chance on someone who had never played football and has changed my life forever. Grateful for the opportunities he has given me! @LovieSmith @IlliniFootball pic.twitter.com/ZT57XCvgyB
— Blake Hayes (@HayesBla1) December 14, 2020
From here, it will be interesting to see where Smith and the Illini go. A return to the NFL always seems like a possibility for Smith, either as a head coach or defensive coordinator. For Illinois, AD Josh Whitman will start a search for his next head coach.