Former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith will be named the next head coach at Illinois, the school announced Monday.
Smith replaces former Illini coach Bill Cubit, who was fired Saturday, barely three months after from the removal of his interim tag. The school also fired Cubit’s son Ryan, who served as offensive coordinator.
His contract will be worth $21 million over six seasons.
“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini," Smith said. "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.”
Whitman, who is new to the AD role, played football for the Illini under Ron Turner, who was the offensive coordinator on Smith’s Chicago staff from 2005–2009.
Smith, 57, coached nine seasons in Chicago and was fired by Tampa Bay in January after going 8–24 in two seasons there, which included a 6-10 mark this past year. He went 81–63 with Chicago from 2004–2012 and led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006 and three NFC North titles.
Smith last coached at the collegiate level with Ohio State in 1995.