The Illinois Fighting Illini made a huge coup earlier this week by locking up former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith. It now looks like Smith wants to not only continue his career with the Illini, but finish it as well.
Smith, who has been coaching in some form since 1980, spoke with NFL.com and talked about his career. He said that he has no intention on leaving and wants to finish his career with the Illini.
“I’m signing — no, I signed — a six-year contract. I’m not going anywhere,” Smith said. “This is the start of the third quarter of my career. This is where I want to finish up my football career.”
Smith was fired by the Buccaneers in early January after leading the team to a turnaround 6-10 season. He says that he hopes to help turn the Illini, arguably the worst team in the Big Ten, sooner rather than later.
“If we recruit the way I know we will, there’s no rebuilding as far as I’m concerned,” Smith said. “We’re going to try to put the best football team we possibly can on the field as quick as we possibly can. Simple as that. And in time, whatever time it might be, we will be competing for Big Ten championships.”
Smith hasn’t held a head coaching position at the collegiate level and returns to that level for the first time since 1995. He was last a defensive backs coach with Illinois Big Ten rival, Ohio State.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports