CHICAGO (CBS) — The University of Illinois has hired former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith as the next Fighting Illini football coach.
Two days after athletic director Josh Whitman fired Bill Cubit, the university officially announced Smith has been hired to take the reins of the football team.READ MORE: High Ranking Cook County Sheriff's Office Official Resigns Amid Complaints Of Inappropriate, Unsolicited Sexual Comments To Colleague
Smith signed a six-year, $21-million deal, according to reports.
“I am extremely excited to be named head coach of the Fighting Illini,” Smith said in a statement on the university’s website. “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. We will play an exciting brand of football that will make our fans, alumni, student body and members of the University community extremely proud.”READ MORE: Another Delay For Bid To Create Database For CPD Misconduct Files As Aldermen Question Cost, Frustrating City's Top Watchdog
Smith, 57, went 81-63 in nine seasons as head coach of the Bears, winning three division titles and one NFC Championship, leading the Bears to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season. Overall, he has a 92-90 record, including playoffs, as a head coach in the NFL, including nine seasons with the Bears and two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His Bears teams went 3-3 in the playoffs.
Smith was an assistant coach at the collegiate level from 1983-’95 but hasn’t coached in college since becoming the Bucs’ linebackers coach in 1996.
“Naming Lovie Smith as the Illinois head football coach is the first step in taking this program to a place of national prominence,” Whitman said in a statement. “We will build a program that contends annually for Big Ten and national championships. The timing for this move was extremely tight, and we needed to move quickly. A coach of Lovie’s caliber would not have been available to us if we had waited until after the 2016 season. Lovie’s reputation as a coach, and even more so as a person, made it clear it was an awesome opportunity for the University of Illinois.”MORE NEWS: Expert Breaks Down The Seconds Before Adam Toledo Was Shot In Body Camera Video
Whitman and Smith were scheduled to have a press conference Monday at 2 p.m.