Just like head coach Bret Bielema, new Illinois outside linebackers coach Kevin Kane believes in the Fighting Illini program. He expects this new regime to do big things in Champaign and the B1G.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, Kane talked about his belief in Bielema and building a strong program in the B1G West. He made it quite clear that he believes the Fighting Illini can have tremendous success, even in a tough conference.

“I just think this is a sleeping giant,” Kane said, according to Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer.

Kane also said he’s “fired up” to get started in Champaign as the team prepares for winter workouts and to begin the first spring season of the Bielema era. And there’s going to be quite a bit of work to do.

Last season, Illinois finished with a 2-5 record with the lone wins coming against Rutgers and Nebraska. The Fighting Illini only played in one bowl game under previous head coach Lovie Smith and struggled to recruit the state over the course of his tenure.

Bielema wants to change that. And Kane believes it can be done. When he was an assistant at Northern Illinois, Kane said the program was able to recruit in-state talent pretty well, but when the Fighting Illini offered someone, the Huskies had “no shot” to land that prospect.

Illinois wants to get back to that place on the field and in recruiting.