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Illinois' Bill Cubit Is the Most Valuable Assistant in the Big Ten

Sep 7, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) talks with offensive coordinator Bill Cubit (right) before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew CoppensContributor IDecember 20, 2013

On Wednesday, University of Illinois head coach Tim Beckman announced the signing of nine new players, but it was another announcement that stole the show. 

Beckman announced a raise and contract extension for offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. He'll be with the team through the 2015 season and is now making a shade over $500,000 per year. 

The raise puts Cubit inside the top eight of assistant salaries (based on this season's numbers). 

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 16:  Head coach Tim Beckman of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches as his team takes on the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was a well-deserved raise for perhaps the single most valuable coordinator in the Big Ten. Valuable enough that other schools apparently took notice, according to Mark Tupper of the Herald & Review

Cubit, the former head coach at Western Michigan, decided to stay loyal to a place he likes instead. 

“I believe in these kids and what we’re doing and I just wanted to be a part of it,” Cubit said in the Herald & Review article. “(AD Mike Thomas) was good to me and Beck was really good to me. I’m a loyalty guy.

“I’ve been dating the same girl since my sophomore year in high school. That’s just what I do. I’m really happy being here.”

Pop on a game from the Illini this year and you'll see exactly why Cubit enjoys it and why the Illini paid him handsomely.

Cubit made this offense very different than the anemic version that went out there in Beckman's first year. 

The numbers simply speak for themselves.

2012 vs. 2013 Offensive Performance
Category20122013Difference
Scoring16.729.7+13
Total Offense296.7426.7+130
Rushing127.8139+11.2
Passing168.8287.7+118.9
FightingIllini.com

No one benefited more from Cubit's arrival in Champaign than senior Nathan Scheelhaase. He threw for 3,272 yards and 21 touchdowns, while completing 66.7 percent of his passes on the year. 

This season he set career highs in completion percentage, yardage, touchdowns, completions and attempts. In fact, his 3,272 yards are over 1,000 more than his previous career high at Illinois. 

Beyond the pure numbers, it was the near-instant belief in Cubit from the players that mattered most. 

Coming off a season in which the Illini won all of one game, belief in yourself and your teammates can be a fleeting thing. 

Cubit made this offense look confident by the time it was unveiled to the public in a blustery and cold spring game. 

Scheelhaase looked different, throwing for 210 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-32 passing in horrible conditions. Additionally, the offense looked confident, and the defense couldn't stop them at any point in time.

That sounds a lot like what took place in a 4-8 season this year for the Illini. 

Cubit transformed not only the offense, but the mindset of the Illini in 2013 and was rewarded for that.

With Scheelhaase leaving, it will be on Cubit to make sure this offense isn't a one-hit wonder moving forward. 

 

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.

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