Lovie Smith and Illinois part ways
Former NFL head coach Lovie Smith and the University of Illinois are parting ways. The Fighting Illini have fired Smith after five seasons in Champaign.
Smith came to Illinois in 2016 after 12 seasons as an NFL head coach with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His most successful tenure was in Chicago, where he lasted nine seasons and led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2006-07 season. He was fired in 2012 after a 10-6 season.
Coach Smith was hired by the Buccaneers in 2014 and did not find the same success as he did in Chicago. He won just eight of his 32 games and was fired after the 2015-16 season.
At the time of his hiring, this was a big move for the university and was expected to pay big dividends. NFL coaches, especially with local ties to major recruiting areas like Chicago, can establish advantages. Unfortunately, it did not work out in this case. Smith's teams held an overall record of 17-39 and were just 10-33 in conference play.