Illinois hires Lovie Smith
In a surprising move this weekend, the Illinois athletic department fired coach Bill Cubit just months after signing him to a two-year deal, replacing him with former NFL coach Lovie Smith.
The move to fire Cubit was made this weekend by new athletic director Josh Whitman, who cited the need to establish immediate stability with the program. Whitman was just hours into his new role with the university.
Cubit was 5-7 last season as an interim coach, replacing Tim Beckman prior to the start of the season. Cubit was signed to a 2-year deal on Nov. 29, but that proved to not mean much. Still, Illinois will have to pay Cubit nearly $1 million. The school then announced the decision to hire Smith this morning for a six-year deal. He will make $2 million this year and the number will grow up to $5 million by the end of the contract.
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Illinois isn’t likely to make a run at the playoffs this season, as they are getting odds of 1000/1 to win the championship. However, that doesn’t make the move any less surprising.
With the firing of Beckman back on Aug. 28, Illinois now has had three coaches in under a year. Smith has never been a head coach in college but has spent 11 seasons as an NFL head coach. He went 81-63 in eight years with the Bears and 8-24 in two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.