By Chris Emma–
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CBS) — Lovie Smith walked into Illinois’ student union expecting to shake the hands of a few students passing between classes and perhaps pose for some pictures.
Instead, Smith got a taste of what’s to come as Illinois’ new football head coach. He got the rock star treatment.
Hundreds of students mobbed the union, adding about 20 degrees more to the packed room. Illinois’ Marching Illini band greeted Smith as he entered the room as a hero for the Fighting Illini.
“I’m so honored to be your new head football coach,” Smith said to the room, greeted by a loud ovation.
Lovie greeted with the marching band, a mob of fans and loud cheers. Full hero's welcome to Champaign. https://t.co/epd3M4iLji—
Chris Emma (@CEmma670) March 07, 2016
Hours after being named head coach, Smith showed a new side needed to be a Big Ten head coach. He asked students for their support, and even their advice in reshaping the program. He worked the large crowd to take selfies with students and sign autographs. Smith seemed right at home.
Smith will have a lot of work to do in bringing Illinois out of the rut created by Tim Beckman’s disastrous tenure, but he showed the willingness to reinvent himself in Champaign.
In closing to the large crowd, Smith expressed the goal at hand.
“Winning Big Ten championships,” he said, “that’s what it’s all about.”