Lovie Smith to be named Illinois' coach

By The Sports Xchange   |   March 7, 2016 at 12:58 AM
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Longtime NFL head coach Lovie Smith reportedly will be hired as the head coach at the University of Illinois, multiple media outlets reported Sunday.

The Illini fired head coach Bill Cubit on Saturday, just three-plus months after he signed a two-year contract.

Smith, 57, coached the Chicago Bears from 2004-12 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014-15. He compiled an 89-87 regular-season record and a 3-3 postseason mark, leading the Bears to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.

The Bucs fired him in January following a 6-10 season.

WBBM-TV made the initial report about Smith heading to Champaign. The Chicago Tribune reported that new Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman met with Smith on Sunday.

Cubit led the Fighting Illini to a 5-7 record on an interim basis last season after taking over just before the start of the season when the school fired Tim Beckman.

Cubit will receive his full pay for the 2016 season -- his remaining balance owed is $985,000. His son, Ryan, the offensive coordinator, also was dismissed.

Smith is still owed $10 million by Buccaneers over the next two years. However, his contract includes offset language that would reduce the amount owed by the amount he makes on another job.

Smith has college coaching experience at Tulsa (linebackers coach, 1983-86), Wisconsin (linebackers coach, 1986), Arizona State (linebackers coach, 1988-91), Kentucky (linebackers coach, 1992), Tennessee (defensive backs coach, 1993-94) and Ohio State (defensive backs coach, 1995).

He was the Buccaneers' linebackers coach from 1996-2000 before spending four seasons as the St. Louis' Rams' defensive coordinator.

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