CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois head coach Lovie Smith spoke to local and statewide media for his weekly media conference via Zoom video on Monday, Oct. 26.
The topics included the season opener at No. 14 Wisconsin last Friday following the 45-7 victory by the Badgers. Smith also discussed the home opener vs. Purdue (11 a.m., BTN) on Halloween.
Smith, who is 15-35 in his fifth year at Illinois, is coming off a 2019 season where he led Illinois to the Redbox Bowl, the program’s first bowl in five years. The 2019 season included wins at Purdue, Michigan State and upset home win against then-No. 6 Wisconsin where the Illini entered the day as a 30-point underdog before James McCourt's 39-yard field goal as time expired sent fans rushing to the Memorial Stadium field in one of the greatest Homecoming scenes in school history.
Smith is the 25th head football coach at Illinois, and the second to move directly from an NFL head coach position (John Mackovic went from the Kansas City Chiefs in 1986 and was hired by Illinois in 1988). With Smith’s appointment to lead the Illini football team, he became the Illini’s first African-American head football coach.