The University of Illinois announced the dismissal of head football coach Bill Cubit on Saturday following one year as the program's interim boss.
The team's official Twitter account relayed a statement from new athletic director Josh Whitman:
Illini Football @IlliniFootball
Statement from @IlliniAD on dismissal of Bill Cubit at #Illini football coach. https://t.co/DlIMpq8Umi3/5/2016, 5:08:57 PM
Freshman quarterback Eli Peters expressed his shock at the decision:
Eli Peters @the_eli_peters
Are you kidding me...3/5/2016, 5:12:30 PM
Meanwhile, offensive lineman Joseph Spencer thanked the coach for his work:
Joe Spencer @IlliniJoe71
Thank You to @CoachCubit A Great Man and Coach. Forever Thankful for the Opportunities He Gave to Me #Illini3/5/2016, 5:21:34 PM
Cubit took over as interim head coach last August after former head coach Tim Beckman was fired in the midst of an NCAA investigation into the reporting of injuries and the medical treatment of members of the football team.
The Illini went 5-7 under Cubit during the 2015 season, and as USA Today's Erick Smith noted, the dismissal came on Whitman's first day as the school's athletic director.
However, ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg theorized Whitman may not have made the move in hasty fashion:
Adam Rittenberg @ESPNRittenberg
Whitman must have replacement ready to go. Otherwise, program will keep getting set back. Timing is just awful. Feel for the players.3/5/2016, 5:08:36 PM
Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel provided another perspective through the prism of Cubit's appointment to the position of head coach:
Stewart Mandel @slmandel
Awkward timing, but the Cubit situation was awkward to begin with. Might as well address it now.3/5/2016, 5:10:32 PM
Illinois also announced Ryan Cubit was relieved of his duties as the program's offensive coordinator, while all other assistants currently with the team will be afforded a chance to retain their jobs via interviews with the next head coach.
The school's statement mentioned that Bill will receive the remaining $985,000 on his deal, while Ryan will take home $361,000.
With the 2005 MAC Coach of the Year out in Champaign, the team will need to find a replacement fast. As Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted, the Illini are scheduled to start spring practice in six days.
And with the personnel shuffle just beginning, Illinois could be in for another long year as it searches for stability that has long been elusive.