Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman released an announcement today that Love Smith is not in danger of losing his job, in fact, they’re finalizing a contract extension for the head coach who just wrapped up his third year on the job.
Smith led the program to a 4-8 mark this fall, an improvement from 3-9 in 2016 and 2-10 in 2017.
Citing the importance of stability, the improvements made on offense and the youth on the roster that saw significant action, and the quality of coach he’s observed in person, Whitman shared the following in their press release.
“…a growing narrative around our program is that Illinois Football has failed to progress and that head coach Lovie Smith is in jeopardy of losing his job. If I allowed that narrative to continue unchecked, we would risk damaging the foundation we have worked so hard to construct over these last years. Thus, today we put it to rest and get back to the business of building for the bright future of Illinois Football. We are not firing Lovie Smith. In fact, with the blessing of Chancellor Jones and pending Board of Trustees approval, we plan to extend his contract.”
“As such, we are finalizing terms to extend Coach Smith’s contract by two years, through the end of the 2023 football season. By doing so, we intend to send a strong message to current and prospective players and coaches that Illinois has a bold vision, needed stability, and a commitment from the highest reaches of the university to build a winning program.”
It is worth noting that Lovie just finished his third season as a college head coach and previously hadn’t coached at the college level dating back to being the defensive backs coach at Ohio State in 1995. From there he spent nearly two decades in the NFL, including head coaching stints with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Bucs.
This fall had shown flashes of some really good things, including a 55-31 trouncing of Minnesota. But the Illini had found themselves on the other end of those type of games as well, losing 63-0 at home just over a week ago back on November 17th against Iowa.
Head here to read the full release from Illinois.
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