There’s no question Lovie Smith loves football. He’s been a coach in some capacity for nearly 40 years of his life. And when you include his playing days, it’s even longer.

The game will always be special to the Illinois head football coach.

Knowing Smith has been involved with the game in some capacity basically his whole life, Smith was asked for his thoughts about the 150th anniversary of college football. He loves how the game brings people closer together.

“Football just does so much for society in general,” Smith said. “You know our country right now, it’s not like we’re [close]. Football, though, everybody can seek common ground on the love of the sport and what it does. If you just look at a football team and see how people come from all different parts and blend together and caring for each other.”

Smith has been a head coach at every level of the game, jumping from high school to college to the NFL. He’s entering his fourth season at Illinois, after spending 12 seasons in the NFL.

While the grind for a football coach can be rigorous, Smith says by being around the game, he’s never had to work a day in his life.

“I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life,” Smith said. “Just being a part of football, playing it and all that. We can talk a lot about football. Just don’t see anything bad.”

Smith’s fourth season with the Illini begins on Saturday, Aug. 31 when Illinois hosts Akron.