It's official: Lovie Smith to become next Illinois coach
Well that didn’t take long.
Illinois, two days after it announced the firing of Bill Cubit, announced the hiring of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith.
CBS Chicago’s Ryan Baker first reported the news as a possibility after new athletic director Josh Whitman’s press conference, and the team confirmed the news on Monday.
— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) March 7, 2016
“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini,” Smith said in a release. “Josh approached me about this possibility, and I immediately seized on the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the young men who are part of the program today and in the future. I take this responsibility very seriously and can’t wait to get a staff in place to start our move to make Illinois a contender for Big Ten titles.
“We will play an exciting brand of football that will make our fans, alumni, student body and members of the University community extremely proud.”
The contract is for six years with $2 million per season in 2016 and 2017, then it increases to $3 million in 2018, $4 million in 2019 and $5 million for both 2020 and 2021.
Smith was most recently in college football in 1995 when he was a defensive backs coach at Ohio State. Since then, he’s had stops exclusively in the NFL.
He spent 11 years as a head coach in the NFL, nine of which were for the Chicago Bears and the two most recent years were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Smith is set to be introduced by Whitman at 2 p.m. CT.