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University of Illinois Hires Lovie Smith as Football Coach
- Updated: March 7, 2016
Champaign, IL – The University of Illinois has hired former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith as their new football coach.
Athletic director Josh Whitman fired Bill Cubit two days ago. Cubit was promoted to interim head coach a week before the season started to take over for Tim Beckman and was hired with a two-year contract before the season finale against Northwestern.
Smith signed a six-year, $21-million deal, according to reports.
“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini,” Smith said in a statement on the university’s website. “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.”
Smith, 57, went 81-63 in nine seasons as head coach of the Bears, winning three division titles and one NFC Championship, leading the Bears to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season. Overall, he has a 92-90 record, including playoffs, as a head coach in the NFL, including nine seasons with the Bears and two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His Bears teams went 3-3 in the playoffs.