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Illinois Head Coach Search: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Vacant Position

A general view of Memorial Stadium during an NCAA football game between Illinois and Ohio State Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.  Ohio State won 28-3.  (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb)
BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press
Adam WellsFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2016

A tumultuous time for the University of Illinois football program may have a promising ending as the athletic department opens its search for a new head coach. 

Continue for updates. 

Illini Targeting Lovie Smith 

Saturday, March 5

According to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, citing two NFL sources, Lovie Smith "will be [a] candidate" for the Illini's head coaching vacancy. 

Per Ryan Baker of CBS 2 in Chicago, citing "credible sources," he will be named Illinois' next football coach. 

It's been an interesting day for the Illini, as new athletic director Josh Whitman announced the firing of Bill Cubit. The 62-year-old took over as Illinois' football coach on an interim basis in August before he received a two-year contract to remain the head coach in November. 

Cubit originally took over after Tim Beckham was fired in August following an external review of the program brought up allegations of player mistreatment, including forcing players to play despite injuries and efforts to discourage injury reporting. 

Smith, who was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January, is familiar with the Illinois area and program after coaching the Chicago Bears for nine years from 2004-12, leading the franchise to an NFC championship in 2006. 

Illinois' football program can certainly use a spark after posting losing records in each of the last four seasons and not winning more than seven games in a season since 2007.  

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