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Illinois fired Lovie Smith today. Given Smith’s record with the Illini — 10-33 in the Big Ten, 2-5 this season — this news is not altogether surprising. What’s kind of savage, though, is how the university highlighted that poor record explicitly in their statement announcing the news:
— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) December 13, 2020
It was pretty surprising, as Smith is a coach with a pedigree of having reached the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, that the team had not really started to build positive inertia by his fifth season in Champaign.
Smith’s biggest victory at Illinois was probably a win over my alma mater Wisconsin last season, in which the Badgers were favored by four touchdowns and got stunned on a sloppy day.
I think the right coach could win at Illinois, the question is who that person would be and if Illinois will land him this offseason.