Illinois Set To Hire Lovie Smith As Head Football Coach?

Ryan Phillips

Lovie Smith coaching college football? According to CBS 2 Chicago’s Ryan Baker, sources have told him Smith will be the next head coach at Illinois.

The Illini fired head coach Bill Cubit on Saturday just a few months after signing him to a two-year extension. Cubit replaced Tim Beckman a week before the start of the 2015 season. Obviously hiring Smith – who spent the past two seasons as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – would be a massive upgrade for Illinois.

Smith last coached in college back in 1995, when he was the defensive backs coach at Ohio State under John Cooper. Since then he has bounced around the NFL, most notably spending nine seasons as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. He guided the Bears to Super Bowl XLI where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith had to deal with having Rex GrossmanKyle Orton and Jay Cutler as his quarterbacks during his rocky tenure in Chicago, for that alone the man should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Smith has a career head coaching record of 89-87 in 11 NFL seasons.

Multiple outlets have confirmed that Smith is indeed a candidate for the opening, but there has been no official word of a hiring or even an interview.