Illinois fires Lovie Smith after 5 seasons in charge
Illinois has reportedly moved on from head coach Lovie Smith after five seasons at the helm.
That’s according to Adam Rittenberg at ESPN. Bruce Feldman also confirmed the news.
Hearing the Lovie Smith era is over at #Illinois. Could be an announcement soon.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 13, 2020
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 13, 2020
Illinois has confirmed the firing:
— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) December 13, 2020
Smith went 17-39 overall and 10-33 in Big Ten play during his Illini tenure.
Illinois took another step back this season, going 2-5 in the shortened season. It represented a departure from Smith’s small steps forward in 2019 (6-7) and 2018 (4-8).
Smith’s last game was a 28-10 defeat against Northwestern. Smith never beat his in-state rivals.
Prior to coaching the Illini, Smith was the head coach of the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had success with the Bears, making a Super Bowl in 2006-07, but left the Tampa job after just two seasons in charge.
Illinois is now the fourth Power 5 program to fire its coach this season. South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arizona have also moved on from their head coaches. So far, the Gamecocks are the only program to make a hire.
Other Power 5 openings are still expected in this cycle. Michigan, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech could all potentially open in the near term.
Replacement candidates will begin to surface soon, but Army’s Jeff Monken, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Iowa State assistant Nate Scheelhaase are the early names being floated by fans and media.
Illinois’ Week 9 opponent is expected to be announced later in the day on Sunday.